People always say “You can do whatever you want to do, you can be whoever you want to be” and by people I mean my mum and by “you” she was referring to me.
My dad asked me, when I was 18, what I wanted to do with my life. I answered “I want to work somewhere sunny, do as little, and make as much money as was possible.” He laughed. Five years later he reminded me of this conversation and congratulated me on achieving exactly what I had set out to.
As I begin this blog writing experiment I am laying on a spinnaker on the bow of a 105′ luxury sailing catamaran which is tied to an island in the British Virgin Islands and I’m drinking a vodka soda all of which are owned by a multi billionaire.
The plan was to follow in Dad’s footsteps and become a doctor, fortunately that plan required a lot of hard work and studying, which I was not prepared to do, so it never came to fruition. I distinctly remember being sat in chemistry class and wondering how to get a job that would provide me with enough money and free time to be able to go sailing in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. It occurred to me that I could simply find work in the sailing and ski resorts that I so enjoyed visiting so much and thus cut out the hard work inducing middle man of actually getting a real job.
My first foray into the world of Seasonnaires was working as a kitchen porter (which is a euphemism for dishwasher) in the Hotel Val-d’Isère in a ski resort, funnily enough, called Val-d’Isère. If you know Val-D, then congratulations you may well be middle class, especially if you call it Val-D, you may also know that it has a reputation of being something of a party resort. This came as a bit of a shock to the system of the 18-year-old fresh out of the Highlands of Scotland that I was. We had a game in the kitchen called “Dorris, cheque on, song change challenge” try saying that after several glasses of cheap house wine. The premise of the game was simple. In the middle of the kitchen there was a small table with enough glasses for everyone working in the kitchen, one of the glasses was a half pint the rest were those miserly small juice glasses you’ll find in any hotel, each glass was filled with very cheap wine of varying colours, predominantly red or white. Dorris was the name of my washing machine, and a very warm and wet girl she was indeed. Every time I closed Dorris on a fresh load of dirty dishes the entire kitchen staff had to run to the “wine table” and down which ever glass they could get their hands on, if you were the last to the table you would have the pleasure of a half pint. The glasses were refilled and the process repeated whenever a song playing on the stereo changed or whenever a food order came in, in our defence we usually waited until we were about a third of the way through the desert orders before we started playing. I recall one time waking up, in my boxers, covered from head to toe in Bolognese sauce with my phone in my hand letting me know I’d had a half hour conversation with my mum. I don’t think I have any recollection of ever finishing an evening shift.
I had to quit that lofty position of kitchen porter after little more than a month to take up the real dream job of being a sailing instructor in Greece. My flight home was delayed by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, causing me to somewhat empathise with this fellow Scot, but after a lonely flight from Geneva (I was one of only two people brave enough to be on the first plane to take to the sky) I had less than 24 hours back at home before jetting out to Greece to start having what could conceivably be called the best time of my life.
I’m concerned this may be a touch long for my first blog post so I’ll have to get to how I came to be laying on this spinnaker in the next post.