Episode 30: A Bard Days Night

‘So in total that will be 418 Euros for the three excursions, are you paying cash or card?’

I never thought as myself as much of a sales person before starting our Andalucían adventure but it appears I’m really rather good at making money for TUI.  Swiping the MasterCard through the wireless machine with a flourish, the transaction is instantly confirmed and I hand the coach tickets over to the sun kissed tourists and watch as the more elderly of the two adventurers  carefully places the receipts underneath her bikini top for ‘safe keeping’.

Stretching, I look up at the hotel reception clock and realize I should have finished work over half an hour ago.  Reaching over to my flipchart, I carefully write what daylight hours I will be working the following day and make my way out the front door, bidding farewell to the doe eyed Spanish cleaners as I leave.

‘Be Careful’ is sat waiting patiently in the MOTO bay alongside several other battered steeds and I hastily fire her ancient engine up.  Gingerly I place my continuously ample buttocks upon the scorching black leather seat and roar off down the seafront, trying to avoid the impromptu stag party which has taken up residence in the middle of the carriageway alongside their inflatable sheep and half consumed bottles of Jagermeister.

The beach is awash with sun seekers, greedily soaking up the heat and applying factor 50 to already pre baked skin. Children and pensioners sit side by side on pedalo’s, trying to avoid teenagers on Jet Ski’s who appear intent on never reaching their 21st birthdays.

Kevin & Perry, BBC1

Within minutes I’m parked outside my home and I happily make my way up the communal spiral stairs. The thermometer on the balcony has reached its peak and I let myself in the sweltering flat and drop my ruck sack on the floor while calling out a greeting to whichever inhabitants are still encased indoors.

 My son, now age 13, has morphed from an outgoing young lad into a gangly monosyllabic teen who appears to have his phone surgically attached to his hand.  Stumbling from the bedroom into the lounge he falls onto the sofa and without any acknowledgement of my previous absence, asks what’s for lunch.

Sighing with parental resignation, I make my way into the circa 1973 kitchen and throw a few ingredients into the last two remaining slices of bread and add a couple of carrot sticks in way of compensation for my lack of culinary imagination. Grunting in my general direction, the ‘Kevin’ (minus Perry) incarnate staggers back into his bedroom clutching the food and slams the door without a backward glance, no doubt to resume destroying all of the undead on his Xbox1.

Slipping out of my 100% polyester ensemble I lazily head into the shower and let the cool water cascade down my rubenesque torso.  Lathering my hair up into vosene frenzy I vow to start on my low carb diet once the weekend is over and after I’ve polished off the 2 scotch eggs hidden carefully at the back of the fridge.

Rubbing the soap along my unshaved Velcro legs I half heartedly hunt around for a razor then remember I used it to defluff the wayward bobbles on the sofa blanket the previous week. Closing my eyes under the spray I allow my mind to wander back over the past 16 months of our life in Spain and all the hurdles we’ve encountered and overcome, none of which was ever mentioned by the shiny eyed presenters on all of the relocation programmes back in the UK.

Comedy and Tragedy

With resignation I turn the cold tap off and step out back into the humidity, patting myself dry and trying to avoid my middle aged naked reflection en route.  Grabbing a sarong from behind the bathroom door I stroll into the lounge and immediately see my husband emptying his work bag on the table, shoulders hunched and lips devoid of whistle.

‘You ok?’ I ask without real concern, mind already subconsciously devouring the eggs of Scotchness.

‘They’ve let me go’ he mumbles into the silent air

‘Whose let you go where?’ I reply, confused, all thoughts of savoury products forgotten.

‘The Theatre, they’ve let me go’ he finally looks up, green eyes searching mine for an answer to his own question.

‘I’ve been made redundant’.

To be continued…

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 29: A Tail of Two Biccies

She’s putting on that sky coloured outfit again, the one that smells of sausages and old people.  It must be her favourite thing ever as she wears it most days now, although it does get taken off each night and hurled into that big white noisy thing which spins crazily around the kitchen until it exhausts itself.  She opens it’s mouth and the dress comes out smelling of flowers!  I like flowers.  I like to wee on flowers but I don’t wee on her dress because I know when she comes back from that place she calls her ‘work’ the outfit will smell like it did before she put it in the hungry thing;  like pensioners, pancakes and Paula.

in MY chair

I’m watching her from my chair.  She looks smiley and is humming as she puts some bright red stuff on her mouth and brushes her hair.  I love my mum. She lets me have bits of food when she is cooking and takes me for a swim in the sea when everyone else is still asleep. When we come back dad stands with his hands on his hips and says ‘Has he been on that beach again? You know you’ll get fined if they catch him on there’ but mum just shrugs and helps herself to a biscuit from a big jar.  She sometimes talks to the biscuits saying they are naughty just before she eats them.  I like naughty biscuits.

I stretch and put my legs in the air.  I have my own armchair.  It’s very comfortable.  I sometimes try and sit on other peoples big chairs but I’m not allowed because apparently I shed which confuses me as I’m a Brian, not a shed.  No one sits on my chair but me and occasionally silly strangers who walk in and plonk themselves down on it. When they get up they look annoyed as there’s a lot of me on them apparently.  I don’t mind, they can share me and my shed.

My mum pats me on the head and then goes out the door and gets on that shiny blue thing with 2 wheels that I think is called ‘Be careful!’ Dad shouts that whenever mum is on it but she just waves and overtakes cars.  Dad shakes his head.  Dad does that a lot when mum is on ‘Be careful’.  My brother asked if he could have a ‘be careful’ when he’s older and mum said something about it being over her dead body.  My brother then slammed the door and my mum ate another biscuit.

‘Be Careful’ at the beach

Dad farts in the bedroom.  I get down off my comfy chair and wander in to see him. He pats me on the head and says ‘Do you want to come with me to work today?’ and I wag my bottom.  We both have breakfast.  Dad never has any of mine but I sometimes get some of his as he drops crumbs when talking to mum on his little black box.  She makes dad laugh.  He calls her a pain in the arse but is smiling when he says this.

“Go and get your lead then” dad says putting the talky machine down but I’m already at the front door, waiting and wagging.  I like the park, it has a lot of smells and I like to potter about but Dad walks around behind me sighing and telling me to hurry up, holding a sandwich bag as we’ve run out of MY bags apparently.  Once I’ve recycled my breakfast on the grass we head towards the big noisy building with lots of chairs and a stage where everyone’s name is ‘Darling’.  I quite like it here.  Lots of people pat me on the head when I walk through and sometimes I find a misplaced crisp on the floor. My dad works here in the night making everyone look shiny.  Mum says he pushes buttons for a living but dad just gives her ‘the look’  and says if she wants to look shiny next time she’s on stage then she better stop pushing his buttons.  Mum just laughs, she likes pushing his buttons herself sometimes.  I like chocolate buttons but I’m not allowed them.

Me and my man pet go outside and sit with some smiley people with skin resembling my chew bone. They pat dad on the back and ask him to make sure that they look FABULOUS on stage.  I tilt my head; I didn’t know dad was a magician too.  Good job my mum wasn’t here, she would snort into her drink and dad would have to kick her under the table.

Not a shed

I can feel my eyes growing heavy, the air is getting really warm now and I close my eyes and lie down under the table. When I was very small mum got very sad as I have something called Hip Dysplasia. She says we moved to Spain for me as it would make me feel better as being cold made my legs hurt a lot.

As I drift off to sleep, surrounded by the laughter of strangers I sigh and remember how very lucky I am to be a New Bri in the Sun.

To be continued… Episode 30

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 28: Tui Story

“Good morning, welcome to the Hotel Blah-de-blah, I’m your TUI team leader and my job here is to make sure you all have a fantastic holiday here in Fuengirola”

And so the welcome speech begins, again.  I’m sat watching from the sidelines, smiling like a Madame Tussaud’s waxwork and trying not to spill the complimentary Orange Juice down my blouse.  There are six of us clad in Blue, awaiting our introduction alongside the Blanket Trip representative sporting a canary yellow ensemble whom I fear may be nodding off before our team leader even reaches the merits as to why you need to book your trips with us as opposed to the half price bucket shop down the road.

Our TUI Team

I look around the room. The average age of the clientele is around 93 and there’s no guarantee all of them will make it to the end of the 50 minute speech.  The air conditioning unit wheezes into life and jolts awake several elderly patrons, reminding them that they are on holiday and need to stay conscious for at least some of their pensioner’s vacation.

I catch the eye of one of the entertainments team and we wink at each other in unison. These youngsters are the glue that holds the hotel together, performing west end worthy shows in the evening after a day of interacting with the guests in various activities around the pool.  They know the score; all of them have been hired following extensive auditions in the UK to ensure everyone has a great time onsite.   Scores for the hotel must remain high because if they chose to do another season with Tui, their next curtain call could be in Florida as opposed to Fuengirola.  Point’s makes prizes; the constant carrot dangled in front the TUI employee’s nose.

I’m sure when they applied for the roles; wide eyed and fresh out of drama school they didn’t envisage a day of shuffleboard and French boules adorning their crispy white untarnished CV but this is the reality of most actors worlds and like all professionals, they rise to the occasion with a smile and a caffeine laden drink.

I look up towards the ceiling and wipe sweat off my menopausal brow.  The meeting is well into its stride.  Pickpockets and prickly heat have been touched upon, train timetables are being hastily noted down on welcome packs and we are rapidly heading towards the bread and butter of the speech, excursions.

I think back to the past month and try and remember which inland adventures I have attended, each one morphing into the next.  Museums, mosques, mountains, information overload.   Sitting on a coach at 8am each morning, watching the younger reps vomit into their rucksacks after an alcohol fuelled outing the night before.  Patting their inexperienced backs and trying to keep them away from the incredibly young area manager who joined us each day on the tours.  Fighting the desire to yell ‘I’ve got cheese in my fridge older than you’ whenever he pointed out an obvious fact regarding how we were expected to behave in front of the paying guests also on the tour.

“And now Paula is going to come up and tell you about Romantic Ronda! Gentleman, you can go to sleep now”.

My name breaks through the deluge of memories and drags me back into reality.  I stand up and brush invisible crumbs of my skirt and head over to the rostrum and smile encouragingly towards my ever deflating audience.  All these people who sit before me have come for a nice holiday and not to listen to middle aged reps wax lyrical on how they should spend their money.  With this in mind I take a deep breath and perform a short comedy monologue on Riotous Ronda and then return to my seat, applause rings around the room as the team leader brings the meeting to a close.

Dragging my Tablet out of the bag I fire it up and stand at the table nearest to exit awaiting the arrival of any guests that fancy spending their hard earned cash on a trip to Morocco or Marbella.

Barbary Macaque – Gibralter

An elderly lady pushes her way through the ever decreasing crowd and waves a shaky finger in my direction

“Jane Macdonald, that’s who you remind me off, I bloody love her on that cruise programme”

Smiling I lean down and whisper conspiratorially “It’s a shame I haven’t got her money.  Now, can I interest you in a nice day trip to see the apes in Gibralter?”

To be continued… Episode 29

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 27: Banger Management

8 months  later…..

“No seriously, does my arse really look like a giant blue beach ball in this TUI uniform?”

My husband, always grateful that the subject matter isn’t about doing any more unnecessary DIY in the apartment turns towards me and looks me carefully up and down

“It’s definitely more flattering than the yellow one you wore last year on that bed promotion thing you did.  Anyway, stop preening or you’ll be late on your first day. Have you charged the tablet up and downloaded all those Apps?”

I nod nervously.  Me and technology aren’t the closest of allies. I can work out Face Book, E mails and how to buy crap on Amazon but apart from that I’m useless.  My palms start to sweat with the thought of a thousand unhappy tourists staring at me while I jab helplessly at a computer screen that insists on saying ‘no!’

Looking into the mirror I smooth down the man made fibers and hoist the Rep bag over my shoulder. Amongst all the truly talented bilingual candidates, 51 year old me was offered the position of part time representative for TUI in one of the biggest hotels in Fuengirola and I was not going to let my larger than average posterior put me off my new career.

“Right, I’m off then, see you after you finish work at the Theatre” and I happily head downstairs to my trusty Vespa.

Within ten minutes I’m standing uncertainly outside the entrance of the hotel. I had worked the same place last season, but that was promoting free blanket trips to elderly people but this season I was the face of TUI.  The buck stops with me.  Painting a smile on my heavily made up face I march through the front door and spot my Team leader lounging on the sofa, writing out welcome packs.

Clearing my throat I hold out my hand and become the person I know the company wants me to be.

“Hello, I’m Paula; I’m your part time team mem….”

“Whoa  whoa whoa…Part time? Part time? I need a full time rep here, this just isn’t on!” and with my hand left hanging in mid air he grabs his works phone and marches past me through the front door and out of sight into the street.

This wasn’t exactly the reaction I had been hoping for so I stand uncertainly by the desk, fingering the various flyers and looking at the airport departure board for divine inspiration.

“Oh hello, can you help me?” an elderly voice cuts through my reverie

Pasting a smile upon my lips I turn around to see a lady of about 90 years old sporting a tiny fluorescent bikini and wearing the brightest pink lipstick (albeit mainly on her teeth) that I have ever seen.

“I appear to have lost my husband. I sent him down to get me a sausage over half an hour ago and he’s not returned to the room. They ran out of sausages yesterday, I had to have bacon, I don’t like bacon, to be honest, I don’t really like sausages but I don’t like to queue for an omelet”

Placing a look of concern on my face I nod in sympathy but before I have chance to solve this modern day dilemma  I see my colleague march back in through the front door, anger etched into his olive skin.

“Er….. This lady appears to have lost her husband on the way to the buffet breakfast; he went for a sausage and hasn’t been seen since.”  I smile beseechingly for help from my mentor; I’m not yet au-fait with the protocol of missing OAP’s, or the lack of reformed Pork if I’m honest.

“Have you looked in the lift Mrs. P? He was in there yesterday morning wasn’t he? Talking to the chambermaid on the 14th floor about the benefits of Aloe Vera?’”

The guest looked confused and then realization dawned like the early morning sun through heavily advancing hazy clouds.

“Oh so he was, I’ll go and have a look for him up there, I do hope my sausage hasn’t gone cold though….”  and off she wanders, mumbling to herself about pork products and wayward husbands.

I turn to my colleague who has resumed his position on the sofa and take a deep breath

“Look, I don’t know what you were expecting but I can promise you this, I’ll work hard and the guests will love me.  Surely it’s better to have a really good part timer than an utterly rubbish full time one?”

He looks at me through narrowed eyes then takes a deep breath of resignation.

“Those welcome packs won’t fill themselves”

Smiling to myself I lift the mountain of leaflets from the table, salute with a cheeky grin and get to work.  

To be continued… Episode 28

A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.