Friday, 1 February 2019
Reading time 3 minutes 03 seconds
Remember that time I drunk two bottles of wine and forgot how to drive? – Homer Simpson.
A long time ago I used to be a bell boy (I said BOY) at the London Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Square. I was 16, enthusiastic and willing to learn…..how to prise Americans from their dollars. I loved that job as I could work two days on two days off and even to this day I get a little antsy if I work for three days straight.
The hotel had 5 stars and I thought one of them was me.
I met film and TV celebs, Hollywood big wigs and arms dealers (who, incidentally, are great fun to drink with). I once met a chap in a lift who mentioned he was tired after working hard the previous night. I asked him what he did, and he smiled and explained he was a footballer. It transpired he was Gary Lineker, you know the crisp and Twitter guy.
Recalling those days it seems strange to me now that I went to interview at a rival hotel because I loved being in the Marriott, but like an old Church roof I’m easily led. The interview was at Claridge’s which was, and still is, the epitome of posh and was, and still is, the antithesis of me.
My fellow bell boy (I said BOY) had the day off and decided to accompany me. We got there at 11am, my interview was at 1pm, and my friend suggested we had a beer. We ordered a bottle of beer and sat there. 90 minutes later I went to the interview.
Claridge’s is intimidating but I had experience of these places and I was as close to cocky as you could get. I had swagger. However as I sat there waiting to meet the head concierge I realised I was very, very drunk. Breakfast had been a bowl of Frosties and it turns out they were not so hot at soaking up the one beer that had turned into six.
It would be ok though as I’d just be polite and front it out.
The head concierge was adorable, and we clicked immediately. I liked this guy and I knew he liked me. We laughed and connected on a level that was almost molecular and I bowled out of there and felt 5 foot tall. My mate had waited for me in the pub so we had a celebratory cheeky one. What happened next remains a mystery but all I knew was my alarm clock was going off and I had to get to work.
I felt rough and whilst it was a tough shift I was getting through it. Then my boss arrived and asked to have a word.
He didn’t start with pleasantries and he wasn’t very pleasant to me.
The head concierge at Claridge’s had not liked me as much as I thought, and he had phoned my boss to complain to him that I was drunk at an interview and how disgusted he was at my behaviour. My boss proceeded to tell me how I’d bought shame on him and our team. These days he’d be breaking a ton of employment rules, but back then it was the wild west and there were no HR laws and no internet to see how in the wrong he was or what my out of court settlement would have been.
I took my scolding the only way a teenager can. I moped about for a bit and thought the world was a very unfair place. My boss was lovely and, a bit like Alex Ferguson, once the hairdryer had overheated he calmed down and he was laughing about it and calling me a wally. Willsy the Wally was my name for a while, 2 years to be exact.
Willsy The Wally
Picture: Me, my double chin, round belly and favourite writing tutor