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End game

  Wed 30th October 2019

Me and a fellow plongeur are sitting on a step in the street on a break from washing-up. I thought we looked novelistically proletarian, in our soiled aprons, our bare arms cocked akimbo on our knees. The back of the hotel faces onto an instance of a cheap pub chain, and had I known him better I'd have suggested hiding our workwear and having a crafty pint.

He started showing me pictures of his girlfriend's Cuban auntie, who was posing with her back to the camera, turning round to check we are looking at her arse.

It was cold in the street, and as I looked at her picture, I rubbed my hands together. He rang her, mistaking my gesture for sexual attraction. "She a good woman -- you go home, she suck your cock," he said, making a gesture. A ripple of distaste in my stomach; I smiled. Stupidly, I agreed to add my colleague on Farce Book. Since then I've had a missed phone call from her, and messages saying te quiero.

Catering work is relentless. There's no wider purpose. People come in, leave the place looking like a shithole, and we spend the time round midnight making it look like no-one was there, hours of cleaning and polishing of glasses, crockery and cutlery, hoovering a room the size of a ballroom, heaving heavy furniture away, lugging yard-wide buckets of melted ice downstairs -- before another privileged group comes in to despoil it again.

Struggling with the ice I was reminded of the description in a Henry James novel (it must be Portrait of a Lady, the one James novel that I enjoyed rather than worked through), of the demanding labour required to maintain ice-houses in locations remote from the main house. The poor not only serve the rich, but create their wealth for them.

I'm in a pretty pass. In the combination of time and money I have neither. When you work long hours, at least you're supposed to be well compensated. But I've been tunnelling.

On my last day doing the dinner ladying in the private school, I left them with a card, thanking them for their kindness and patience. I told them that I was starting a new job I was offered a month ago, as a Mental Health Support worker. I joshingly trotted out the clichéd quip about how this job had been good preparation for the forthcoming one.

All bonhomie (and thankfully, this being a solidly working class place to work, no hugging), we parted on the best of terms.

The following morning, I got an email from the home in which I was to start work, saying that in the light of the information revealed by my criminal records check -- now rebranded into its tough guy successor, the "disclosure and barring" check -- they were unable to employ me. I suppose it's the Caution for possession of MDMA from 2015 that's the obstacle, not the shoplifting peccadillo from 1986.

On Saturday, I applied for a job I'd rather do. It's in a callcentre, but it'd be working for a charity which provides advice for women who might be thinking about having an abortion. I wouldn't have to fake it, for once. They emailed me today, offering me a telephone interview tomorrow morning, a hurdle to overcome before a face-to-face one.


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Ack. There is no appreciation for cleaning and putting things straight.
I hope you have some better luck soon.
Meanwhile - keep writing.

Mon 4th November 2019 @ 08:44 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you my dear. I have a couple of escape route maps stuffed down my trouser leg…

Mon 4th November 2019 @ 10:29 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Hope the interview went well Looby. God knows you deserve a break out there. Sure escape from the plongeur’s life is coming for you soon, one way or another.

Wed 6th November 2019 @ 22:17 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Aha – I have news… which will be here by midday.

Thu 7th November 2019 @ 09:30 Reply to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

having spent far too many hours in banquet halls, and hotel meeting rooms, i know what they look like at the end of an evening. for what it’s worth, i try to at least say ‘hello’ to the staff, crack a bad joke, and when they’re not looking, bus the odd plate or glass off to the dish bin. it’s got to be a bit rough, and i’m not comfortable leaving the staff invisible.

Sun 17th November 2019 @ 00:25 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, anything like that helps DF, just so that we’re not ignored and taken for granted.

Sun 17th November 2019 @ 09:27 Reply to this comment

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 60 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

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WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

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The Comfort of Strangers

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