Chapter 1 ~ The Departure Lounge
When overseas resort representatives meet up, it doesn’t matter whether it’s women, men or both, they all have one thing in common; they’re talkers. Every single morsel of gossip available which is always unbelievably possible. Especially at the start of the season gathered around the bar in the airport’s departure lounge enjoying a last British beer for what seems like eternal summer. Forced for months on end to make do with the local brew. Oh well, someone had to do it.
One such year, I found myself at five in the morning one freezing cold Wednesday in March at Manchester Airport chatting away with a holiday rep I worked with a few years previously. Scott, who was a legend on the circuit. Tall blonde-haired lad, he must have been about six foot easy, pearly white teeth and one of those physiques that girls died for; so he said. His fashionable hairstyle might last a month before one of the local resort butchers they called barbers gave him a short back and sides. How we couldn’t wait for it. All of his golden locks fell to the floor. It was a sight to behold.
Although, why he was wearing his full airport uniform was beyond me. In his pristinely laundered white shirt and distinctive tie, he would stand out a mile to his guests on the flight out, and as such, he’d be under scrutiny from them before he’d even got to his resort. Silly lad to be honest. My uniform was securely packed in my suitcase, and already on board the plane, I hoped. I always travelled to resort in jeans and a polo shirt. Any colour or brand, it didn't matter. So long as it didn’t scream the words holiday rep, I’d be in for a quiet flight. Always remaining low key until the last possible moment. That way I could listen in on the holidaymakers just in case there were any professional complainers on board. You’d be surprised what you hear on the plane. Last year, I got an invite to the bar from a group of lads. "Carl," they would say, "you’re a laugh mate." Then in the resort, they saw me in my uniform. I’ve never seen a gang of lads run for the hills before.
So, what do holiday reps talk about then? For Scott, it was all about boasting about how many women he’d had sex with the previous summer season. A fair amount compared to previous years, according to him. Still, he’d improved on his technique, so he claimed. I’d have thought so if truth be told, he’d about two hundred and fifty to practice on by my count. How upset he was this year that his new holiday company were flying him off to a respectable yet modern family resort. Shame, I thought. He might have to do some work and lead a few tours with screaming toddlers as well as those who unfortunately suffer from coach motion sickness. You know the ones. They cry when they look out of the coach window when all they can see is a four hundred foot drop below them. "Stop the coach! I want to get off," they’d scream as loud as they could. In training, we'd learnt to advise such tourists that it was nothing to worry about; the coach driver can do this blindfold. Scott, who claimed he was the best thing a woman could meet, was the biggest coward ever.
"Make a change for you then," I said, "having to be brave."
"It’s alright for you," Scott said, "you just play a music tape and get them all singing." Another one of his off the cuff remarks about me came as natural as taking a piss. He’d often described me as plain in my features. Plain? What did he mean by that? Cheeky bastard.
"Yeah, it’s easy," I laughed, "just get ‘em to sing three wheels on my wagon mate."
Scott unfortunately still hadn’t found his sense of humour as he ordered the next round. I didn’t mind. He was always the generous type. ‘What songs have you got for the holidaymakers this year?’ he wondered.
It was true, I had some new songs. Some of those holidaymakers came every year. The same week and the same hotel or apartment. Put their towels on the same sunbeds at the very same time every morning. Just before breakfast. They even booked the same excursions. As I say, every year.
"Lonnie Donegan’s Greatest Hits," I told him. "When they’re on their way back from their great Greek Night Out excursion, pissed, I want ‘em to make as much noise as possible when we get back to the resort."
"You’ll go too far one of these nights mate," Scott warned. "And, you’d better watch how much you drink on those nights out," he added. "If you put them away as you do, that stomach of yours won’t stay flat forever."
"No, no chance. Anyway, when some of the holidaymakers complain about rowdy versions of My Old Man’s a Dustman late at night, you have to tell them they missed out on the best night ever. If they’re on a fortnight’s stay, I’ll sell ‘em tickets for the following week."
If it was one thing you could beat Scott at, it was your excursion sales. Oh yes. All ever he did was walk into a bar, a taverna, a nightclub or even the local shop and something strange occurred, he walked out with some woman on his arm. It was as if women sacrificed themselves to him. Was he far too easily distracted? Or, was it his square jawline and oval-shaped face with a suntan that drew women in closer? No, he was just too easily distracted. I didn’t think he was that attractive. His conversation was a killer on occasion, so it couldn’t have been that.
"I heard that Danish lad who told you off for sleeping with his Danish ladies in his five-star hotel back then," I reminded him. "Didn’t think he would be the jealous type. Especially when you seemed to have the weekly first choice of who to take to bed at his hotel. What was his name?"
"Scurdy Burgh Johanson or something," Scott said as he cringed at the thought of him. The five foot ten Danish bodybuilder type whose shorts weren’t worth wearing as they displayed his family jewels at any angle did turn heads. Mostly from the local police who were always telling him to cover himself up.
"I am Dane-ish, so I will wure what I pleaze," he’d say to them with a big grin all over his fresh face.
"Suppose we should be grateful he wore something at least," I said, to which Scott agreed. I didn’t mind the fact Scott slept with any woman, to some of the male holiday reps, he was a God to be worshipped. However, when he’s on your team; the end of season team bonus does matter. If everyone in your group is on the same page, that extra three or four grand at the end of the summer season does come in handy in the winter, especially if no winter work comes your way. Covering for Scott was a pain. Running around bars and nightclubs with his ticket book in hand to get the sales he couldn’t be bothered with, was hard work. Nevertheless, I did it to save all of our bonuses.
I was hoping to be complimented on my new haircut by him. The Greek island’s God to women that is. Groomed to the tune of twenty English pounds by some flash boutique in Manchester the day before. Perhaps he’d comment on my freshly shaved face or, the fact that I’d spent some time during the winter in the gym bodybuilding to keep myself in beach ready shape. Especially when you’re sporting a new pair of Speedos. Or, maybe he was right all along and even after all of that I was still, just plain or worse, sad.
"Another round Scott, or are you going to be a gentleman?" I asked.
"Of course. I’m a gentleman," he replied, "and maybe this time Carl, I’ll get the truth about you and our Danish friend."
Knowing he’d be at least a thousand miles away, there seemed no harm in spilling the beans.