Hotel Management.....Why Do I Do This?

25 October 2008

Suffer The Little Children.

K8 has posted a most eloquent plea on behalf of St. Catherines School in Wicklow.

Click on the title to take you to it, please read it.

I would like to urge anyone who sees this, to make a donation, however small, or buy the beautiful Christmas cards produced by the school.

It is outrageous that centres such as St. Catherines are allowed to get into this situation, they are an essential part of our educational/healthcare system, and without St. Catherines K8s' son may not receive the care and support he needs and deserves.

If you don't have children, you will find it hard to understand the depth of feeling involved, but please, just think about it, it could be you writing this one day.

If you have children, you will have some understanding of the need to protect and care for them, and the importance of placing them in a school that is serving them well.

If you have a 'special parcel that got a bit crumpled in the post' reading her words will give you the gut wrench that we all feel when we see essential services being snatched away.

Please do what you can, without wanting to sound like a crusading do gooder, it's important, important enough to get me off my lazy arse and write this, because my own little parcel is going to school soon, to a fabulous new unit, in a brand new school, and as exciting as is, I always have the fear that a few years down the line, I could be the one asking for help.

Thank you.

03 September 2008

The Tears Of Walesa.

There's a helicopter circling above my head, probably just bringing the 'one who shall be obeyed' for his lunch, or a new sommelier being shipped in from France, or it might be a food parcel for one of our American VIP guests, because they 'just can't get good coffee in Ireland'.

Imagination, your friend, and sucker of time better spent.

We have become a family department. My supervisor, a lovely, feisty, ambitious young lady, married the linen porter, the other supervisor, her sister, was bridesmaid.

The wedding guests included an aunt who works in the back office, two cousins who are waiters, and the funny little guy from the bars who haven't figured that one out yet.

I have noticed this trend with workers from Eastern Europe, there are it seems a lot of hotels with family groups making up the housekeeping departments. It reminds me of London in the 70's and 80's only then the immigrants were Irish.

Quickroute in his superb blog reminded me of a time when most of my colleagues and friends were economic migrants from Ireland, having come to England because they had to, just as many of their grandparents had done years before, mine included.

Being a *bit* younger and maybe not so worldly wise then, I couldn't fully understand the implications of having to leave your home and family, out of necessity, surely there were jobs?

I now know that's why I get a bit twitchy and defensive when I hear comments from Irish people about the 'Poles, taking over the country...' etc, of which I hear many. I find it immensely amusing and satisfying to abuse the abusers, I make my feelings very clear about how I will not tolerate racism of any shape or form, and how I find people who make racist noises the most ignorant and pigshitthick people on earth.

I tell them that I remember signs in B&B windows, that stated 'no blacks, no Irish, no dogs', you couldn't get a job if your name was Murphy unless it was with an Irish construction company, and you couldn't earn enough money to send home because any job you could get was so underpaid it just about fed you, let alone the family back home.
I am occasionally the target of clever dicks who have the privilege of calling themselves Irish born, not 'returning' like my family, I always find these morons the most amusing, as they usually kick off with the old '400 years of oppression' chestnut, Jesus, they don't even know that we English were murdering their children and nicking their land for at least 800 years, didn't they learn anything at school?

The Bride looked fabulous, the Groom looked worried, the vodka flowed, and everyone was so pleased to see a young couple so in love and so happy.

A young couple, who left their families in Poland, and came to Ireland for a better life, not to send all their money home, but to settle here, and raise a family of their own in a country that is very similar to theirs.

A few days prior to the nuptials, the bride-to-be cooked for all the housekeeping staff, she made some pastries, some cakes, and some pretty little sweets. We all celebrated with them and wished them a happy and long marriage, and then the Polish ladies burst into song, singing a very pretty song of obvious significance as it made a few of them cry...leaving myself and another Irish colleague looking at each other with fixed smiles, and humming along like we knew what were doing!

The Bride presented everyone with a slice of a beautifully made cake called 'The Tears Of Walesa' and we presented them both with a very well filled envelope of cash, and a couple of VIP Spa Passes to indulge themselves and wash away the crap they have to work in every day.

The Bride is twenty years my junior, as are a lot of the ladies in my place of work, and I couldn't help but wonder how many of them knew the significance of a name given to a cake.

The older ladies are very familiar with the history of Solidarity, and the strikes, and the protests at Gdansk that were led by Lech Walesa, but they found it quite amazing that I knew too. I followed what happened in Poland very closely at the time, I had great respect for the Solidarity party and watched the reports, open mouthed, at the courage of ordinary men and women who stood up to tyrants and changed the World.

Strange to think that over twenty years later I would be standing in a kitchen in Cork, with fifteen Polish people remembering a man who had a cake named after him

We all have history. One day, the twenty-somethings grandchildren will go back to Poland, to reclaim their heritage, to raise their children in the country they consider home.

Some will be met with ignorance and abuse, and a resentment that their families dared to leave all those years ago, but most, as in this country, will be met with open arms, like long lost friends, and made to feel welcome and safe.

Cead Mille Failte.

09 July 2008

The Life We Choose.

The familiar beep of a text message, as I threw my coffee down my throat, and looked for my car keys, I read that one of my housekeepers would 'not be coming to work today', as 'things are a bit awkward at home right now'.

I was, I admit a bit pissed off, I don't like letting co-workers down, and I hate being let down myself, so I answered with a sarcastic 'will you be in tomorrow?' type reply, and headed off for my hour long commute to work.

I spent the day whizzing around like a blue arsed fly, we are at full occupancy, and a tiny bit understaffed, so when someone can't get out of bed after a night in the pub, it causes us major problems and huge bad feeling.

She's new, but we missed her, she's good at the job, loads of common sense, and great craic, gets on well with the girls, the guests like her, I like her.

Later in the day, after many mumbled curses about unreliable staff, one of my supervisors told me she wanted to speak 'in secret' with me...a quick look at the translator on her WAP phone, (handy little gadget), told her that 'private' was a better option!

She had just been speaking to our absent friend, and what she told me had me feeling guilty for the rest of the day.

Our housekeeper had arrived home from work the previous evening, to find her husband asleep on the sofa, he had been drinking in the pub all day Sunday, and now she had come home to find that he had done nothing, no meal for the children, the house a mess, and she was understandably annoyed. She told him to stop snoring and go to bed, although knowing her as I do, she must have thrown in a few expletives...words were exchanged and he took this as an excuse to kick seven kinds of shit out of her.

She wasn't taking any calls, so when she finally came in to see me, I was relieved to see that she was ok, bruised, hair missing, in pain, but 'ok'.

She told me a tale of a woman, married to a man for 14 years, two children, who left her family in another country to be with her husband, who miscarried twins.

A woman finally able to go out to work for a little bit of independence, a woman trying to do her best for her children.

A woman with a burst eye.

A woman worried about losing her job.

Unshockable me just could not believe what I was had she not hit him with the frying pan, or ran out of the house, or had him thrown in jail? All the questions that you want to ask someone who is pouring out their life to you, but you don't because it must be hard enough to tell the tale without expanding on the misery.

She didn't ask for advice, and I didn't offer any, she is a strong 40-something, she has family support, all I could do was listen and gaze a little too long at her injuries, although most were hidden.

After a week or so off work, she was able to come back. She told me that she had not gone to the Gardai because she didn't want her kids to be ashamed of him, that she was sure he wouldn't do it again, and it was all recorded on her medical files, so that..

... 'if it did happen again, and she died that they would know that he was a wife beater and throw away the key'

She has been making beds as well as anyone today, apart from the discolouration on her face, you would never guess she had been thrown down a flight of stairs.

We all have a choice, how we live our lives, what job we do, who we live with, how do you tell someone that chooses to be a victim that they deserve to be happy?

How do you tell a whiny, freeloading guest to stop complaining about the rotten weather....?

For anyone outside of's raining....hard....every day....*blub*

07 July 2008

'Another Satisfied Customer'

Hmm, long time no blog...

There is never a dull moment in my job, but a combination of my appalling memory, appalling Internet connection, trying to stay sort of anonymous, and age catching up with me means that I don't keep up with the rest of the prolific bloggers who keep telling me off for not writing!

I'm making no promise about how I will sit and write every night before I fall asleep, because I won't keep it, but as it has been pointed out to me many times by certain individuals, I really should document my experiences as I am heading into senility big time, my memory is awful as it is... God knows what it's going to be like in a few years time! (Just had *another* birthday...gulp!)

Recently, something happened that I want to record, and I would appreciate any comments about how I handled it, especially from other hotel workers.

I have a very strong Housekeeping team, and although I am not an Accommodation Manager these days, I still run the Department and, try to, look after them.

We are very busy, running at about 95% occupancy, which is amazing considering the 'credit crunch' and how families are opting for cheaper holidays abroad. Other managers who are friends have told me this week that they wish they were turning over the same as us. Some days I wish we were empty, the days that are manic, and we can't see an end to it, but then you have to remember that it's money in the bank, and the girls are getting good hours.

I like the pressure, I thrive on the mania, some of my best ideas have come out of total disaster, I'm not proud of that, I want to be a mouse, quiet, unassuming, keeping my head down, but at a certain age you have to accept things about yourself, and a mouse cannot run this operation.

However much experience you have, whatever the job throws at you, you cannot deny your personality, your morals, or your opinion of dickheads.

The housekeepers were just finishing up for the day, and were unloading the van, and generally getting sorted out for the next day. As I was inspecting the lodges and was close by, I saw a guest at his front door speaking to our linen porter. I thought our guy looked a bit taken aback, and the girls too had shocked looks on their faces.

Once we were all back in the safety of our department, I asked them what had gone on.

The guest had shouted over to the linen porter asking him for some toilet paper, some dishwasher tablets and some towels, now we provide a good stock of these things on arrival, but some people are too posh to shop, and rather than cause a fuss, I always give them a few bits and pieces if they ask.

On handing the items over, the guest asked our linen porter where he was from, the conversation went like this.....

"Where do you come from"? (in his best Dublin brogue)


"When are you going back"?

"I don't know, I am getting married this year and we are settled here"

"Well YOU should go back NOW" (sneering into his face)

At which point he went back inside leaving all that were in earshot a bit upset.

It took me a while to establish what was actually said, my Penglish is getting better, but I needed to be sure before I did anything, I mean, was there some confusion, did he mean that the downturn in the economy was affecting the Polish workers to the point of making them return home, was he anti marriage, catching a glimpse of the dragon within, I thought this a possibility, or was he, as my zen inner voice told me, a fucking racist knob?

Never being one to jump to conclusions, especially as it involved a live, paying guest, I decided to pop down to have a chat with him, just to check everything was ok. I went with the intention of making sure that our guy hadn't got it wrong, that the guest was being misread, but by now too many people had told me that he had been racially abused.

She answered the door, dragonesque in stature and smell, making a mental note to wash the duvets after their departure, I asked for her husband. She shouted at him to come hither and promptly went back to her TV.

I put on my best 'speakingtocustomersyouthinkaretwats' voice, polished my badge, smiled...

"Hello Mr F, I am just calling to check everything is ok, you had a chat with one of my housekeepers earlier. Did you get everything you asked for, as there seems to have been a problem. can I ask you what you said to him?"

"I haven't got a problem, apart from not having enough toilet paper, and I didn't say anything to him"

He looked triumphant, he had made a sarcastic remark, whilst looking down aggressively, on a mere hotel employee, someone who will have to clean up after him....what a man. Instead of walking away and wishing him a comfortable stay, words came out of my mouth, words that are not in the 'exceeding the guests expectations' manual.

"Unfortunately I have a problem in that I have a very upset young man in my office, and I am trying to establish what he said to you, I want to ensure that my staff conduct themselves in a professional manner, and if something untoward has happened, then it is my responsibility to resolve the situation" blah get the picture?

I think it was at this point that he either couldn't understand what I was talking about or knew he had made racist comments, or his burger was getting cold and he wanted to get back to his fragrant blob, now sitting legs akimbo in front of 'Deal or no deal' he did what any self respecting neanderthal would do and launched himself into a no holds barred torrent of abuse.

It's amazing the different colours someones face can go when they're off on one, I think his best line was

"What the fuck do you care anyway, you're not from here either"...

...referring to the fact that I am English, two races in one hit! Clever as well as stupid.

Words, the words, not an argument exactly, but I'm afraid my mask slipped and my badge was less shiny than it had been a few minutes earlier.

I didn't sink to his level, but I wouldn't win any corporate 'employee of the month' prizes either!

The upshot was that he was going to 'have your job' and 'speak to your boss'and 'how dare you speak to me like that'

I took that as a signal to get back to work, so I decided to get everyone off home, and sort it out in the morning.

I came in next morning to a call from 'my boss' wanting to see me. 'Here we go' I thought, P45 for me.....what I actually got was a 'don't worry about it' and 'you're doing fine'

One day, someone will push that little bit too far, and I will have to go and work in a zoo or something, but until that day, I shall continue to serve my beloved Great Unwashed.

21 May 2008

Leave Your Problems At The Door.

Sometimes when I come to work, I wonder why some people bother to get up in the morning. Have they made it their mission to be an arse to all and sundry or did the day just pan out that way?

This morning was a prime example of how some people should take two Mogadon and go straight back to bed.

"Good Morning...."

it costs nothing, you don't even have to mean it, but it makes everyone you say it to feel good, they think that yes, maybe it is a good one, positive vibes, warm fuzzys call them what you will.

"Hmmp, growl...."

again it's free, although it does have a price, maybe you don't mean it, but it makes everyone you say it to feel like shit, they know that they are going to have a bad day with you, and with everyone else if they get the same greeting, and are made as miserable as you.

Because I come to work with a positive attitude, I make the mistake of expecting that everyone else will too. I understand that we all have problems, and illness, and we just don't feel like being nice....but leave it at the door!! We work in the Service Industry, 'treat your colleagues as you would treat your guests' blah blah!

I have developed a fantastic team of housekeepers, they don't read this so my reasons for saying it here are to illustrate that I think the world of them and they are the best team I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Today, I nearly hung one of them from a tree.

My lovely ladies (I can't stop calling them that after 'Father Ted') had been working away quite happily this morning, with no problems, not too much work, and they were heading for an early finish.
My supervisor mentioned to me that one of the girls was a bit 'down', and was 'snapping' at the other ladies. I went and had a private chat with her to try to see if I could do anything, or if it was a problem she had with work.

She explained that she was a just feeling a bit fed up today and didn't want to work with the girls. This was easily remedied by just moving her sideways to other duties so that she didn't have to be around anyone, we all get like that sometimes, so it's no big deal to change staff around. I am their Manager, not their mother, and I have enough children of my own to know that petty arguments are forgotten about within minutes, so I let it go.

Making a mental note to keep a close eye on her I left her to beat up the dirty laundry!

Usually if one of my ladies has a crisis, or is ill, I just send them home, there is no point making someone stay to do their shift if they are not up to it, luckily this only happens occasionally, and it is easy to spot, you know when someone is having a bad day, and if you can't fix it, and they don't want to then they go home.

So, we trod on eggshells all morning, trying not make things any worse, she was already as miserable as sin, and we were all having a good day.....the problem was, as I had moved her to the laundry, she was now coming into contact with all of the team, and not just the two she was working with in the morning!! Silly me.

I'm not a violent person, but I had little visions of myself pushing her off the stepladders, and poisoning her tea. How can one person ruin the day of so many?

I toyed with the idea of sending her home, but as she had driven in with one of the other girls she had no transport to get back, and anyone who knows Ireland will laugh if you suggest public transport. The day progressed, with us all popping into the laundry to collect clean linen, drop off the soiled, and try to cheer our co-worker up....her day then progressed with snapping, shouting, and generally being a pain in the neck.

My point is, if I have one, is that everything we say or do, however small it seems, has a direct effect on all around us, you can kill with the stroke of a pen, but you can do worse with an ill timed joke, or a snide remark. I have worked with many people who enjoy the confrontation, the fact that they can destroy the good mood of your team, and we don't have it here I'm glad to say.

I suppose we are spoilt in that we all get on well, if we didn't then we wouldn't notice if someone was being horrible.

When it was time to go home, I was pleasantly suprised at how clean and tidy the normally chaotic laundry was, she had got through so much laundry that I realised that we need her in there full time, at least while we are busy, so something good came out of today, she's happy about changing jobs, and I'm happy that she keeps the linen in order.

Duck tape isn't something I would have lying around normally, but I soon found some when her lift asked me for a reel.....I wonder what they are going to do with it?

23 April 2008

The Hotel Inspectors...'no such thing as a free lunch!'

We've been inspected...again.

We have a lovely little certificate up on the wall to say that we are worthy of the all the attention, that we are fabulous, that we provide one of the best 'experiences' in Ireland, that we have beds to die for and when you see the bill you probably will, die, that is.

I have no problem with inspectors, as such, they do a great job telling us all what we're doing wrong, and we 'welcome' their input, so that we can use it to improve...what I find difficult is the inspector who can't separate job from sadism.

Some inspectors enjoy seeing Managers squirm, they love the power they have, and the fact that they can destroy your property with the stroke of a pen, and quite frankly, it goes to their heads.

She arrived on the Resort in a flurry of enthusiasm, rather windswept due to the fact that she has a convertible, and is 'damned well going to use it...even if this IS Ireland'! Once she had wiped the dead bugs from her horned rimmed glasses, she began stomping around like a bull in a china shop.

Lipstick (??) in one hand, clipboard in the other, she proceeded to pull my 5 star lodges apart. Out came the pots and pans, out came the silverware, wine glasses held up to windows, hands plunged into dishwasher filters.....she knew where to look alright, toasters turned upside down and banged on the work surface in case of any missed crumbs....denting them in the process....on and on she went....toilet seats lifted and after she ran her manicured fingers under the rim, checking for dirt, she then used the same fingers to check the tumblers on the vanity unit!!!

Imagine a very badly choreographed musical, 80's style, mad hair, lots of twirling around, badly fitting costumes, over made up, loud, offensive to the got it. Couple this with manners of a warthog, and you have the whole picture.

I followed this obnoxious person around for over two hours, without losing my temper, which for me was amazing, and in all that time she said nothing of any importance, she found nothing significantly wrong....the one or two faults she highlighted, in a very personal belittling way, were things that you can't do a great deal about in self catering accommodation which is in constant use.

She objected to the faint smell of cooking in a microwave oven which is in a large housing unit with the cooker, even with the old 'boiling lemon juice' trick, there is still a whiff however faint, she told me to cure this by leaving the doors open!! (At head height, just right to knock a big hole in your head).

This is just one of her little nuggets of advice, another was to use Brillo pads on soft faux metal, to use pan scourers on the glass shower screens to remove the builders' grout etc, and to boil wash the curtains if they got emulsion paint on them, I kid you not!

I objected to her comments, and didn't do what you are supposed to do when you are being inspected which is smile and nod your head a lot whilst taking lots and lots of notes....I argued with her, well not argued, but whenever she remarked that something was wrong, I asked her 'where?' or 'which bit'. This got her nerves after a while, and she got steadily more manic.

She took a filter down from a cooker hood and, using an inspection keyword of 'DIRTY' threw it onto the worktop, so I did what any Accommodation Manager who gives a shit would do, I picked it up and said 'No, it isn't' and made squeaky clean noises on it by running my finger along its edge, reveling in the fact that this one has never been used.

She was a little put out by the fact that the lodges she had come to look at were not quite finished, from a building point of view, she had been advised of this and still, even though there was no deadline to meet, chose to come, knowing that she would earn Brownie points with the owners, as she would have no problems finding fault in an unfinished house....who couldn't? So, she decided that she would go and look in the finished, certified, passed lodges, which she had no reason to do other than the fact that she enjoys intimidating people, but as I was by this time, thoroughly disgusted with her language, and her manner, and her unprofessional approach, her lack of knowledge or method....I had no patience with her at all, and did nothing to hide it.

If someone is employed by an official body to inspect your property and give their opinions of your standards, they should surely be able to demonstrate a superior knowledge of this subject.

After her tornado's approach to the inspection, she flounced off towards the Hotel restaurant to be wined, dined, and definitely nothing else by the GM, who was waiting, smiling with a bottle of strychnine behind his back!!

Her words of,

"I'm sending some friends down here next week, and I'm expecting it gratis" ringing in my ears.

I brought this up at the next meeting with the Management team, and voiced my disgust that these people think it's right to freeload in the name of improving standards! My GM, who is at times quite forthright and occasionally seems to 'speak first, engage brain later', said,

"They're ALL at it, anything for free, just give them what they want and get rid of them, they annoy me so much, that woman annoys me, but we are stuck with her, she's so far up the owners arses that we just have to put up with her".

I can work with this guy, he's normal, but I had better not say too much, every time I find a boss that I think I will be able to work with, something happens and they leave.....*sniffs armpits* it's not me, honest!

Shortly after her visit, three of her girl friends arrived, booked into the best lodge we have, comp of course, I refused to put the flowers and wine in for them, so concierge did it, and they stayed for three nights, to 'experience' the Resort

They 'lurrvved' the place, and will certainly be recommending us...gee thanks, the also loved the spa of course they did, it was free, they paid for NOTHING, not a drink, not a movie, nothing. Did they find anything wrong with the lodge? Well, they didn't find the little presents that I left for them to find...but they did find that they couldn't sleep because the water pump was noisy, shame.

The list of her 'recommendations' arrived today. Mostly they are for the builders, there is a lot of 'snagging' which is ongoing and will be finished in due course, half of the lodges are still being built, and were not even due for an inspection, but it would seem our lady is a law unto herself!

As a colleague and I sat and went through the list today, she turned and said to me,

"I would love to be an inspector, I would be such a bitch"

I just laughed, I actually wanted to ask her if that's what she thought was the most important aspect of the job, being a bitch? I'm ashamed to say, I just laughed.

The point is, it's just all someone elses' opinion, I could find fault in an empty room, as I am sure our lovely lady could, but I wouldn't report it if it was not constructive, because then it it's pointless.

16 April 2008

Personal post...not a guest in sight.

There is a line in a Counting Crows song that goes;

"We only stay in orbit for a moment of time...."

It has other connotations, about unrequited love, but whenever I hear it, it always makes me realise how short our time is, and that unless we have done something quite remarkable in our lives, and made a difference, that life will go on, just as before, only our nearest and dearest will notice we have gone.

I don't worry about getting older, and I certainly don't obsess about dying, but now and again life slaps me in the face and tells me that I had better start getting things right.

Getting older is fabulous, I enjoy the extra wisdom, and the confidence I have now, after years of hiding behind something or someone. I'm of the opinion that we are all capable of anything, we can achieve all and more that we set out to do, that the only person holding us back is ourselves, which I know has been written already by someone far more literate than I.

If I had had the outlook, and the confidence that I have now, say, twenty years ago, I would have given Bertie a run for his money, and we all know he liked to run with the Punt.

Life for me and mine, has taken some weird and wonderful turns over the last couple of years, new country, new house, new jobs, new friends, new schools, and along with that came bewilderment, fear, frustration, confusion, and 101 questions every day about whether it was the right thing to do, to create such huge changes, remove us all from our comfort zone.

Now, just when I thought we were safe for a while, settled, the slap has stung again.

My beautiful miracle baby, my little fighter, my youngest, the child that shouldn't be here, has autism.

Two summers ago, I stood with my husband at the foot of Croagh Patrick, looking at the summit, we had no doubts about being able for the climb, confident that we would get to the top, but I still found myself wondering if I would be fit enough, how long would it take, and how the hell would we get down with broken legs?

That's how it feels now, standing at the foot of another climb, anyone who has done the 'Reek' will know how steep and rocky it is, and how easy it is to fall. We didn't have to do it, we wanted to, we had good boots on, waterproofs, and prepared for it, not like the girls in flip flops that had to turn back less than half way, or the old dear sat on a rock, smoking a Silk Cut because she hadn't the breath!

This time, we have no choice, getting up this steep 'hill' is the only way to get the little miracle the help that he needs.

I know we don't have to cope alone, there are many more parents in the same situation, willing to help, and give advice, and many wonderful healthcare professionals waiting to take him to the next step, but anyone in this position could be forgiven for feeling that they are totally alone. It will pass, I know, and the practical side of my nature will take over, and I will start getting through the the HSEs' red tape, and start finding the right people to deal with.

But not this week. He's four tomorrow, and he doesn't know it's is birthday.

The view from the top of the Reek is worth every minute of that pain and breathlessness.

Work can wait.

16 March 2008

Sweet, indispensable you.....

How did we all gossip before mobile phones were invented?

Text received this morning from an ex colleague..."some news for you, R has been sacked, is leaving at end of, party!"

R is worth a post all of her own, but I would end up confusing myself, as I never could work her out, as GMs go, she is one in a million, thankfully.

My Industry is an ever changing one, it is at the mercy of all the shifts in fashion, taste and the economy, and is a constant reminder that no one is indispensable, however good you think you are, or however often you tell everyone that the place would fall down without you!

We have two less staff than we had this time last week, one quit, the other was sacked. I then find out that the one who quit did so because of the one who was sacked...but she has now agreed to come back and work when we are busy.

You would have to be a special kind of sadist to enjoy giving a member of staff their P45, no Manager with an ounce of compassion would sack anyone without first giving all the options some consideration, unless it's for gross misconduct, or theft or thumping the concierge, (who probably deserved it anyway, smug little git).

After months of hand holding, back patting, giving more support than a wonderbra, I finally had enough.

I came into work to find all my ladies sat on their bums awaiting the return of their supervisor, who had gone to speak to the GM or anyone else as long as it wasn't me....!

"What's going on"?

I asked, and one of the girls started to explain that the supervisor has called them all up the night before to tell them that I had accused them of theft and they were not to start work until it was sorted out! Jesus! To say I was a tad annoyed would be putting it mildly, I then spent I don't know how long, relaying the conversation that I had had with her the previous day, (and reassuring them that I did nothing of the sort). The very short conversation the previous day went something like this;

Me: "Hi, do you know where the two mirrors from 10 have gone?"

D: "Why? What mirrors? What are you saying?"

Me: "The new shaving mirrors, there were four on Sunday when I did the inventory after the guest checked out, the girls cleaned it on Monday, and now there are two, does anyone know where they are?"

D: "I'll phone them now and ask them"

Me: "No, don't do that, the morning will do, just ask them for me if they have put them somewhere will you?"

I thought no more of it until the next day when I came in to a revolt! She had indeed called them and told them that they were all going to be sacked unless the mirrors were found, that I was going to call the guards, that I was going to search their name it I was going to do it!

I at no time suspected any of them of stealing the mirrors, for a start they are horrible looking things, and secondly my Team have more sense than to risk a well paying job for a cheap mirror, plus, I think I know them pretty well now and they just wouldn't.

Once I had persuaded the girls to go back to work, I went in search of the shit stirrer. She was in my colleagues office, using every underhand trick in her book to make herself look a poor little victim, I don't think she expected the response she received, in that she was told that Queenie is a good Manager, and would not accuse anyone of theft unless she was sure and anyway you are blowing things up out of proportion...again!

For the next two hours, I chased her all over the Resort, trying to settle this once and for all, and all she did was disrupt things, she told the girls to stop working, she did nothing but cause trouble, and told bare faced lies...She avoided me all morning, until I managed to track her down, hiding in a store room.

After weeks of putting up with unrest, and being undermined I decide that today, it was going to end. I could go into great detail, but I don't have the energy.

I think it was some sort of power game that she wanted to play, but she was the only one playing it!

With her P45, cheque, and letter of dismissal in my pocket I began the awful task of telling her that I was letting her go. I didn't get a chance to get that far as she ran to her car and sped up the drive to the Hotel shouting something about giving a weeks' notice! Yet again I had to chase her and thirty minutes later she was off site.

I don't have any regrets about the decision, it was the right one, I just wish it hadn't turned into a farce!

Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees, or you ignore the obvious, and it takes something like this to make you realise that there was a problem. I can now see how much happier the Team is, there is less stress, more laughing, they still work damned hard, and the job gets done, but it gets done without an atmosphere of unrest.

Oh, well, none of us are perfect.

23 February 2008

"Gimmee Gimmee Gimmee"

"Why can't I have a discount"?

(Because you're a flatulent greedy bitch that's why)

"Because Company policy does not allow extra discounts on top of special rates for tour operators"

"But the special rates are only for the room, not the facilities"

(You already get nearly 50% off, how fucking greedy can you get?)

"Sorry, I really cannot change Company policy"

(Actually I can, but you have really put my back up, you have been clicking your knobbly fingers at the waiters since you walked in the door, who do you think you are, you sell rooms, that's all, you sell holidays and shit)

"But I bring you lots of business don't I?"

(Yes you do, and so do a lot of other operators/agents, stop making a fool of yourself, and go home, I am not giving you the steam off my.... anxious nods from a co worker trying to tell me that my 11 O'clock appointment is here)!

"Well, I really cannot understand why you won't bend the rules a little, I mean you could give me lodge for a night or two, you're not full, and I have some colleagues coming over for a couple of days...they are very interested in seeing the standard of accommodation, just as a goodwill gesture? Some of these people are very influential, they will love it here and they would be willing to do wonderful PR for the Resort...."

(Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, you are really getting on my nerves now, I now have two people waiting to see me, and we don't need your half arsed PR gurus ta, we do fine without them)

"I'm sorry, but as I say, we are not in a position to offer you either a complimentary, or discounted stay, as you already receive a substantial reduction because you are a tour operator. You are here as an individual, not as group, and as such you are not entitled to your discounted rate, however I would be willing to give you that rate today. I would also be more than willing to meet with your colleagues and give them a comprehensive tour of the Resort and the accommodation, as you say they will be impressed with the high standard and will more than likely want to recommend us to clients"

"Look, I want to speak to the GM, I think it's ridiculous that I should bring you the amount of business that I do and you are so unwilling to just give me a lodge for a couple of nights, I mean what's the problem"

(The problem is you rancid old cow is that you have stayed with us on five occasions that I know about, and every time you have graced our doorstep, you have managed to wangle a spa treatments for that fuck ugly cellulite on your hairy everything, now, you either pay full whack or you sod off, and by the way, you might as well say 'get me the organ grinder, I ain't talking to no monkey'!

You don't bring us anything, guests re-book because they like it here, and if you only knew that your colleagues have told me that you try to steer them away from Hotels that don't give you anything...I think you have had enough from us, I am on this weekend, and I am giving you nothing, if you're lucky enough to catch another Manager next week, and they're stupid enough to give in to your demands, fine, but today, I am not budging.)

"Well, fine, I'm obviously wasting my time, pity, it's such a nice property"

(Hmm, yes you are and yes it is, but it's a property that you won't be swanning around in this weekend)

I have probably just cost my boss a few grand, but it was worth every cent.

"Mrs W. I can assure you that my GM will only tell you the same as me, but if you would like me to call him at home for OK, well thank you for dropping in, I hope to see you again soon, now if you'll excuse me I have someone waiting for me.

Another freeloader, they all crawl out of the woodwork when the boss is away. Some of these operators think we owe them something, most of the ones I know are great, but just now and then you get one like her, and I take great delight in watching their hopes of a free weekend melt away. For what it costs to keep her in chocolate body wraps, I could employ a linen porter!

On my way back from this ear bashing, I saw a little lady coming towards me in a golf buggy. She seemed to be going a bit fast, and rather too near the pond for my liking, as she turned around to say something to the woman on her right, the whole thing toppled over into the water!! Not only did she turn her head to the right, but the wheel as well! Her (ex) friend went in first, sideways, the she followed, landing on top of her, the now steaming buggy was lying on its side in about five feet of water.

I have never seen so many people run so fast, it was like one of those old films where the heroes have been walking through the desert for days, then find an oasis, and being desperate for a drink, throw themselves into the water.

If anyone tells you that lady golfers are refined laaydees, bullshit! The air was blue! *##*!

Made my day, so funny, oh they were fine, a bit wet but fine.

Luckily, we don't have these....

16 February 2008

The Devil's In The Detail..

Always read the small print!!

What sort of person expects to take their big hairy dog to a five star Resort and get away with it?

The sort of person that knows how to work the system, knows which buttons to press, the sort that can sniff out a stressed out, inadequately trained Duty Manager, and work her until she will agree to anything...! day off, (whooppee do)..then comes Friday, back in to work to try to fix the cock ups of Thursday.

I am going to give up having days off, the World does not revolve around me, I am not the Saviour of all things Hotel shaped, there are people here far more qualified than me, but why do I always seem to have this crap waiting for me after a day off?

Reservations took a last minute booking on Tuesday for Thursday night, for three nights, last minutes are unusual, but fine if they use a credit card, pay the deposit etc. which they did. The lodge that they booked is very nice, quite spacious, sleeps six, but the living room is a little small, (which they didn't know about...obviously).

The booking was for one adult and three children, which was perfect for the accommodation, as one child was in a cot. They arrived on Thursday to a perfectly clean, warm, welcoming lodge and that should have been them set for the weekend.

Thursday evening the heating upstairs went off, and as these things are left to the security guys to sort out after hours, it could not be fixed until morning. So, after Mrs Q refused an offer from the Hotel to spend the night there, she was given extra duvets to keep her little darlings warm. For some reason known only to the security guard on that night, he didn't offer them some portable heaters, which although not attractive, would have done the job until morning.

By Friday morning Mrs Q had kicked up such a stink that the Reservations staff moved her to another, superior lodge, at the same rate, after giving her Thursday night for free.

To say I was a little pissed off is putting it mildly...unfortunately before I came here, the lodges were run by a 'collection' of people, because the administrator left them in the lurch, and it seems that one or two of the 'collection' can't let go, and makes decisions without consulting the Manager in charge.....grouch over!

So off she went, with her FIVE children, sister, brother in law, and dog, (did I say dog)? kids banging on front doors as they went, guests heads popping out to see what the noise was all apologising for other peoples' little their upgrade.

The electrician took I would say ten minutes to replace the fuse that had gone in the junction box, and whoosh...heat!

After one night, the lodge looked like a bomb site, food everywhere, filth, broken glasses in the dishwasher just left for someone to cut their hands on, hot water left running in the bathroom, greasy hands had been smeared down one of the living room windows...?

Their upgraded lodge is huge, sleeps eight, had just been spring cleaned, the carpets had been cleaned, the curtains were just back from the dry cleaners...and it had been recently painted.

All of a sudden, there are three cars on the drive, strange, she lives four hours away and is 'on my own...just me and the children, it's such a struggle with my husband working away'.

The cars are there all night, but they are quiet, and they haven't let the little brats run around outside too much, so no problem.

Saturday, it all kicked off.

I was getting a neighbouring lodge ready for an arrival, and as I came out of the front door, a large labrador-type-cross-dog-sort-of-big hairy-thing came running over to me, then ran off down past some of our long term residents houses. Walking a little way behind was Mrs Qs' sister and brother in law, pushing a pram, they didn't even seem to notice the dog, and certainly made no attempt to call it, so when I called over to them if it was their dog, they ignored me initially, maybe they were going to deny it, how, I don't know, but I asked them twice and they said it was indeed their pooch. I then asked if they had a lead to which they replied,

"Sorry but he just jumped out of the car"....(strange when I have just driven past your car, and it was minus dog, I have just seen you all coming out of the lodge, where the fuck was the dog, glove box?? Things you would like to say but can't..)

Whilst his masters were debating whether to disown him or not, he decided to squat and disgrace himself on the neighbours my next question was,

"Would you like a bag for that?"

The man, now looking decidedly uncomfortable, scrabbled for a nappy sack under the pram, muttering that he had a bag. I watched with a weird mixture of amusement and annoyance as he scraped up the digested Winalot and they went on their way walking around the Course, swinging a little shit bag.

For anyone who thinks I am being a bastard about this, let me just point out that dogs, of any shape, size, colour or breed are NOT ALLOWED on the Resort, to stay, to visit or to be taken on little walks where golfers, might, unintentionally thwack a ball at them and cost their masters lots of pennies in vets bills.

It is written in the terms and conditions, the ones that you have to sign before you can check in....I have looked, there it is, beside the bit that says if you break anything we will come round to your house and nick the silver, I don't think the writing is too small, my eyes are shit, and I can see it, it says...NO DOGS.

Phone call, from Reservations...she, Mrs Q has called,

"I want a key for the last lodge we were in, I need my phone charger..."

No way was she getting a key, so I went to look for the missing charger, and after finding it, had a quick look around for anything else she may have left. When I looked in the boiler cupboard I found an old sleeping bag, and an old beach towel, I put them into the van and went over to her lodge. When she came to the door, she blocked the doorway, shutting the door behind her, I asked her if she had lost her charger and she thanked me 'for my kindness' and took it, I mentioned that I had found a sleeping bag, and she said that was hers the whole drive was now blocked with cars, I had parked on the lane at the bottom of the drive, I said I would get it for her but she practically ran after me to the van, and almost snatched the sleeping bag, which smelled a bit doggy, I thought, from my hands and ran back up to the house.

I am used to odd people, they make my job more enjoyable, well mostly, but I find it very irritating when they are dishonest, and just trying to 'work one up us', as my Dad would say.

So this where I start looking like feckin' Basil Fawlty, getting obsessed with what they may or may not have in their lodge, staking them out, I even had the lodge camera in my pocket, just in case...I KNEW they had a dog in there, that they had obviously had it in the previous lodge, 'cos, duh, I had just realised that I had delivered the fucking hairy bastards bed back to her!!!! Stupid me.

Its the weekend, and I am the only Manager stupid enough to be around, so I deal with this kind of thing, so I do what any Manager worth their salt would do and I asked someone else to ring her and ask her if she has a dog.

"Dog dear? Me dear? No!" (How very dare you!) My sister has called to see me, her dog jumped out of the car, maybe thats what someone saw...yes I realise that I could be asked to leave if I have a dog, but it's not mine"

Nice to see they can stick to the same story. Her sister it transpires lives five miles away, nice also that they could spend some quality time in their huge, upraded, luxury lodge, how lucky that the fuse went and they had to move..just as well there were enough beds for everyone to stay....told you...obsessed!

I came in early today, it's SUNDAY, no idea why it says Saturday above...(note to self, learn how to blog properly) as we're really busy, and I wanted to get a head start, AND I wanted to catch them with the offending four legged beast, but they were one step ahead of me, the sisters car left at 8.15 and came back at 8.45, just missed them! They took poochy home, so if we did decide to knock and ask them if we could check for doggy prints, they would have no reason to refuse, and all morning to complain bitterly that someone had dared to think that they would bring a dog, which is in breach of their terms and conditions.

My lovely clean, fresh carpets now smell like a kennel, and there are, despite their half arsed attempts to clean up, non human hairs on the stairs, in the utility room and (FFS!) on one of the beds!

In all, an interesting weekend, but one I could have done without, as I have to now recommend to my Manager that they aren't entitled to their deposit back, and he is unlikely to 'want a fuss' so they probably will get away with three nights luxury accommodation for just under 300 euro!!!

All this could have been avoided if someone had enough common sense to give them some heaters on Thursday night.

They shouldn't have been moved, the fuse was fixed first thing on Friday morning, they would not have drawn attention to themselves, and I probably wouldn't have even noticed until after they gone that they had a which time I couldn't have proved it.

On check out she asked to speak to a Manager, she was delighted to see the twenty-something in an ill fitting suit approach her, and took full advantage of the situation...luckily I was in the foyer and heard this.

Her face when she saw me was a picture, she knew that she had been rumbled, so all thoughts of a further discount melted from her mind.

I escorted her to the desk to settle her bill, which she did, grudgingly, and said she would be ringing later in the week to enquire about her deposit...hah!

I told her I was so pleased that she had brought that up, as the GM would want to discuss that with her further, as we have reason to believe a dog has been staying in the lodge, which, as she is well aware, is NOT allowed.

People who take the piss, who freeload, who push and push for discounts, while all the time doing something that not only inconveniences others, but also causes extra work...(like lets see,two houses to clean, and if that dog has fleas then so do my staff now, thanks, and the house is out of action while it is being fumigated...)

They should be ashamed.

Dog hater? me dear? no dear, HOW VERY DARE YOU!!

31 January 2008

Pigs in Shit.

I have always had issues with staff/managers/anyone without a reservation/ who havent paid a deposit, using the Hotel accommodation, (I fucking hate it) especially on a long term basis.

In a previous Hotel, where I was Accommodation Manager, the room attendants would stand in the doorway of our 'live-in' chefs' room and say 'where do we start?' It was a typical, 'lad away from home' scenario, drink, guitars, girls, more drink, dirty clothes strewn around the room, enough aftershave lotion to sink a battleship, usually spilled all over the dresser, lad mags, used tissues (!!) To add insult to injury, he always left his payslips open on the desk, and the girls would give out for the rest of the day about how much money he was getting, when it was them who had to clean up his shit!! His chefs whites were always in a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor, (his bathroom had no lights for a whole week once, and he didn't report it, so how the hell he washed himself properly I don't know, what am I saying, he's a lad!...but also a chef...eww!)

This was a 4* establishment. But he was a lovely guy, so he kinda got away with it!

Today I was literaly pounced on, on the drive up to the Hotel, I was flagged down in the car by the housekeeping supervisor and one of our cleaners. They were bouncing, mad, boiling with rage, which isn't a pretty sight to arrive at work to...!

'You have to go and have a look at that lodge the guys have used, it's unbelievable!!'

'The guys' being members of staff who have been living in for a couple of months.

Young, unattached males, with Mammys who do everything for them, on a good salary and a very short walk to work, are going to erm, enjoy themselves, use their leisure time to the full.

Unfortunately, their accommodation usually suffers.

The suffering then goes down the line to the cleaners, who, although justified in their complaints, make it their duty to inform anyone and everyone who will listen, that they have just had to clean dried vomit off the bath,(?!!FFS!) dried poo off every toilet, pick used condoms out of the bathroom bins, that have no liners in, scrub caked on grease from pots and pans that were left in the kitchen sink, sand blast the oven, wade their way through bedding that has been stained with 'God knows what' clean every cup, saucer, tea pot, and plate with bleach before putting them in the dishwasher, again. 'Deep cleaning' has taken on a whole new meaning today!

The suffering is then passed onto the Manager, who, has to inspect the damage and make a report, arrange for specialist collection of the soiled duvets, pillows, and bedding, has to arrange for the carpets, mattresses and soft furnishing to be steam cleaned, and calculate the cost. She also has to try to smooth the waters between the lads and the cleaning staff, who are now spitting fire at each other, and field questions from the GM who wants to know 'how bad' the damage is, 'did you take photographs?' and will 'deal with it' himself..

Down the line it goes, around and around, pointless, timewasting exercises which could have been avoided if they had had a tiny bit of potty training from Mammy, if only she had taught them to put their used toilet paper in the toilet, not on the floor. If only she had taught them to USE the toilet. If only she had taught them to cook real food, and made them eat their meals at the table, maybe, just maybe they wouldn't have eaten so many takeaways and wiped their sticky fingers on the wall beside the bed....!

If only we had been allowed to do housekeeping once a week for them, but no, they wouldn't pay, so the crap built up, the cigarette smoke became more and more embedded in the walls, the curtains, the carpets.....if only they had washed their feet more often then the acrid smell of cheese would have been lessened.

To the end of the line...the dirty little bastards themselves. They actually thought that the cleaning would take an hour as 'it's not too bad' in reality it took three ladies four hours to clean it out, without dressing the beds, as they are going to be cleaned later today, and all this will put the lodge 'out of order' until at least Tuesday next.

All this has to be accounted and paid for, the extra man hours, the cleaning materials, the contractors, the loss of revenue from the lodge being OOO, not to mention the now, very bad feeling between the girls and the dirty bastards, as the girls have told everyone how bad it was, and the lads have been blaming each other!

I love my job, I know how lucky I am to be here, and I enjoy looking after such good quality accommodation and facilities, but it never fails to amaze me how anyone can abuse their rooms/lodging, what sort of parents raise these pigs?

I 'lived in' for at least three or four years all told, and I never, ever let my accommodation get in that state, in fact, in some of the staff digs I stayed in I made vast improvements!! I painted, I cleaned, I fixed plumbing, I made curtains....Jesus I sound like the perfect tenant!

Where's me calculator?

26 January 2008

Very Very Very Ingracious Punters

Hmm, I thought my pizza tasted funny!

God knows what the good people of Ireland have been drinking in our lovely, creamy, packed full of calcium..(carbonate and yummy dioxins)milk...all these years, from what I have seen there has been enough plastic burned on the old fire to knit a new ozone layer.

Not guilty of course, I go to the tip, well, hubby goes to the tip, but he uses my car so that's the same.

Today we have some VIP guests...Prime Minister? No that was yesterday, Nelson Mandela? one day, no, we have, lets see, journalists, sales managers' brother and his lover, someone from the property pages of the local rag, who else, oh yeah, the manager of a local firm who 'may' or 'may not' want to have a training course here in the summer but he can't decide yet so we are to butter him up anyway 'just in case'......fuck me, I am not worthy to be in such company.

Question to the floor..what constitutes a VIP?? or, as I am told these specimens are VVVIPS?? Someone who 'might (if they can get their act together and decide to) make a booking', or someone who actually matters?

My supervisor rang me to check if these were to get any 'special' treatment, my answer is NO NO NO... we should provide the same level of accommodation and service to all our guests.

I don't care if they write a few lines in some obscure golfing rag that no-one reads, or they might just tell Ireland that the barman forgot to put ice/olive/salt/martini, in his martini....I'm just too feckin' cynical for this industry sometimes.

Example of how these liggers and langers should be made to pay for every square of toilet roll;

Just to be nice, because we didn't have to, we gave one of our journalist 'friends' a welcome breakfast hamper on arrival.

This included, home made soda bread, bacon, eggs milk, clonakilty black pudding, sausages, orange juice, honey, etc etc....I could hardly carry it it was so heavy and laden with goodies.

The next morning, one of my colleagues took a call from them, her face, I am told, went from Irish pasty to red to crimson to blue because she was holding her breath to stop herself exploding.

Consummate professional that she is, she kept her reputation intact by not losing her temper and dealt with their request.

The wife of the journo had called to complain about, not to ask for, or comment on, but to complain, loudly, bitterly, and with free use of expletives the lack of butter in her hamper!! She yelled as my colleague raised the handset to her ear, blasted her....can you believe the bare faced cheek of some people?

I wish I had been the one to take it down to her, I could have slashed their tyres into the bargain, given them something real to complain about, tut tut Queenie, get back in yer box.

I should soon be the proud owner of these fantastic badges made by Manuel, in the comfort of his utility room.

I was convinced I was getting a badger, that's how I read it, 'badger sets for the first ten to email', but now he tells me I'm only going to get a couple of little bits of metal with a very dangerous pin on the back that you could have someone's eye out with. Can't wait, now of course he knows where to send the hate mail as well...oh well in for a penny...!!

21 January 2008

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes...

My son, 7, is a dote, a beautiful child, (stop sticking your fingers down yer throat)!

Ok, I'm biased, but he is, his teachers have always complimented me on his good manners, the fact that he loves school, and always works hard. The friends he chooses are nearly always a mirror image of himself, like attracting like.

So why is he such a little devil at home??

He's highly intelligent, but also highly emotional, and a tiny bit volatile, so I suppose he needs to vent some steam when he gets out of school, and, if I were given the choice between him being a pain at school or at home, there's no contest.

He can't even blame his hormones like I can, bless him.

Sometimes though, usually when he has conveniently 'not heard' me ask him to tidy up his room for the twentieth time in an hour, and we are at the point of coming to blows, he comes out with a little gem of observation.

"Mum, do you like your job?"

"I do, why?"

"Why do people come to stay at your hotel?"

"Lots of reasons, work, weddings, holidays, why?"

"And they get all their food cooked for them right?"


"And their washing done, their room cleaned, they don't have to anything, it's all done for them, they don't even have to wash dishes?"

"I suppose so, why?"

"Why don't they stay at home then?" (Serious, honest question,... he, for once,was not being smart)!!

Can't argue with that, I love the way children think......little children, not grown up kids who should just, well, grow up.

Why do you go to work? Money? Job satisfaction? To get away from the kids for a few hours because they are turning your once sharp, inquisitive brain into custard?

Most people would be honest and say 'money' which is why today was a bit of a arse.

I had an office full of housekeeping staff this morning, looking for the 'lost week'... the week they were convinced that they hadn't been paid for.

I went in on my day off to sort it out, under the impression that if it wasn't, then they would walk off site.

I refuse to be held to ransom by anyone, especially staff that are very generously paid, reimbursed for breaks, and most days are finished by 3pm.

I went through all the timesheets, payslips, ran off a spreadsheet of when payments went into their accounts...... I did everything I could do to show that they had indeed been paid for every hour, every minute that they had worked. I would never see anyone work for nothing, it goes against the grain, so it upset me to think that my staff might be thinking that.

The confusion arose out of the fact they were paid early for Christmas, which threw the fortnightly pay out of kilter.

Round and round we went in circles, until, I gave up and asked our Accountant to explain it to them again....I really didn't have any new words left, and I was so bored with the sound of my own voice.

After approximately thirty seconds of him entering the room, the girls were ready to sprint back to work!!

He told them exactly the same as I had been saying for the last half hour!! I know where I went wrong, I should have put on a nice suit, splash of Paco Raban, flashed my super bleached teeth at them, and had a sex change......!

This was all stirred up beautifully by one lady, stirred up, and put on to simmer all weekend, by someone who should know better, and stop behaving like a child, you can forgive a child, but not a forty-something mother.

I now have to spend precious time, time I should be using more effectively, on repairing the bridges, rebuilding the confidence and trust that I have built with my team.

I won't be working on the bridge that the lady in question has burned behind her.

12 January 2008

"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity"

They say you see your age in others.

I meet old school friends occasionally, and think they look old, not imagining for a minute that they are thinking the same about me!

I don't really consider myself to be vain, but I suppose we're all guilty of a little vanity from time to time.

This morning though, something happened which prompted me out of my nonblogging habit!

I got a call to my office to go and speak to a new long term resident, so grabbing my phone and trusty screwdriver, (don't ask) I hot footed it to their front door.

looking a bit flustered and dishevelled, Mrs. N answered the door,

"Oh good, look, I need you to help me sort something out before my husband comes back from his business trip, I have a bit of a surprise for him"

Being a good little employee I obliged. I might not have if I had had prior warning.

Walking through to the living room I noticed at once some very large boxes wrapped in brown paper, next to these were more wrapped parcels, about five feet square, flat this time, mirrors maybe, or pictures?

"Your lovely maintenance man came over yesterday and put some hooks on the wall for me, I didn't want to ask him to help me, I thought I would wait for you, because, well, he's a man, and anyway I want a womans' opinion"

During the course of the conversation, it transpired that her husband would be celebrating his 50th birthday this weekend, and, as a special treat, she had organised a bit of 'art work' for him.

"Now, I thought I would put this one here"...

...she said as she lifted one of the flat parcels and proceeded to lift it up to the hook on the living room wall. She gave me that look my mother gives me when she is pretending to be a weak little woman, ('and well, you're much younger than me, your arms are stronger......'blah blah), so I held the picture in place, and she stepped back, making sure it was straight, then, she started to rip off the paper, which was fine until she pulled the whole thing off the hook, so it was now down to the same level as my face.

I had wondered why she hadn't taken the paper off until now, but one glance at the subject matter, now unfortunately, giving me an 'up close and personal' view of her nether regions answered that question.

I don't know how I managed to keep a straight face.

Maybe it was because she was so anxious that her husband would like his gift, and I didn't want to make her think that actually you know, maybe it's not such a hot idea to have a five foot square nude photograph of yourself beaming down onto your seating area, how ever 'arty' you might think it is. Besides, black and white photography does nothing for your wrinkles!

It got worse. In the other boxes were small sculptures, that she had obviously posed for, I felt a little uncomfortable handling them as they were a bit, er, graphic.

..."for the bedroom, I thought" she said,

"Duh, no, put them on the dining table...." Nearly saying it out loud...!

Some were quite sweet, of his favourite hobby, golfers with old fashioned plus fours and wooden clubs, that sort of thing. She must have raided Argos.

In all, we put up three very large black and white nude studies of herself. They leave nothing to the imagination. We wrapped a further five sculptures, rather beautifully with stunning paper, that must have cost more than the contents.

She asked me for my opinion, but what could I say...?

..."Oh I think it's a fabulous idea to have your fifty year old, pale, skinny, wrinkly, body dominating each and every conversation you will ever have in this house...your husband, hopefully, will absolutely adore his gift, and be very proud to have his friends and colleagues round for drinks so they can admire the love of his life in all her splendour..... I am so happy for you that you are so proud of your body, and want us all to look at it.

Once the word is out, you will have every security guy, green keeper, window cleaner, painter, builder, porter and waiter sticking their dirty little noses on your patio doors to have a Polish cleaners will throw a hissy fit and refuse to be in the same room as the things...their supervisor will have a coronary as she a bit 'churchy'...they look fucking awful you stupid, vain, pompous, old imbecile!!

You are an attractive, mature woman, they do not do you justice, whatever the photographer charged you it was too much...why the hell didn't you have some decent head and shoulder shots?"

Amazingly enough, I didn't go that far, I did what most of us in the Service Industry do...I lied.

I lied so convincingly that she was beaming when I left, smiling for Ireland!

If I have ever wanted to be a fly on the wall it's now, his car was there when I drove past earlier....I wonder what that big square thing next to the bin is?

Note to self; If I ever become that vain, hit self on head with FBH!