Thursday, 20 October 2011


Part 2
I was viewed with suspicion by the regulars. I was older and better educated and not into drugs. I would have to feel my way in gently if I wanted to survive. I had to prove that I was not as big a dickhead as they thought. So, with the excitement of any new job, I was ready.
I wanted to be the best night porter since Dirk Bogarde. I checked everybody carefully on the entry phone with an unaccustomed politeness.
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“Hello, who's there please?” 
“Why don't you just say 'What the f*** you want wanker?'” said Dave subtly.
Anyone I was not sure of, I saw in at the top of the stairs.
“You're having a joke, int ya?” said Diane.
“What do you mean?”
“Taking it a bit serious like?”
“If making sure that no intruder comes in and steals anyone's gear or gropes any of the females, or males, I stand guilty as charged.” and with attack being the best form of defence, “Shall I arrange for the phantom groper to pay you a visit at 5 O'clock?”
When Diane realised that my officious behaviour was for her benefit and the rest of the hostel, she warmed to me. She could not resist one final dig.
“You're a teacher, ain't ya?”
“Thought so.” She had to know if I was going to be one of the gang or a management brown nose. Neither, would have been the best description.
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The radio cassette blared out from the tinny speakers, “Voice of Peace, it's 3am!”. This would be make or break time as the drunkards returned from the Ego Trip. When Dave became tipsy he became less mellow. Even if his aggression was not directed at me, it could be problematic.
“Open the f***ing door you dopey c***!”
He liked me I thought. “Good evening David, how art thou?”
“Brahms (and Liszt = drunk)” slurred Dave.
“Would you be requiring a bin at any time during the proceedings?”
“F*** off! I'm never Tom and Dick (sick). I was gonna smack some saucepan (+lid = kid) but he lost his bottle.
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I wondered how this jolly banter might have fitted in with the Bloomsbury set. “Cup of Rosie (+Lee = tea) Virginia, you old slapper?”, or, “How's the painting Duncan? I've nearly finished my bathroom.” even, “My date (+plum= bum) is a bit sore after that Ruby (+Murray =curry). It was not on, really.
My first night turned out to be quite enjoyable. People sat around drinking coffee, listening to music and laughing, always laughing. There was, though, a constant battle between me and the regulars over what was an acceptable amount of volume for the music.
They preferred disco decibels. This meant other guests complaining that they did not want to be kept awake by moronic American rap. Was I getting old? A compromise was reached as I subtlety lowered the control millimetre by millimetre, which they turned up in chunks.
I had started to gain some points here and there, but could not make them see reason over the washing up.
At about 4 O'clock they started to drift to their pits as Dave called the beds. I blew a kiss to Diane and wished her 'sweet dreams', meaning, of course 'wet' ones. She was not going to be asleep very long.    
Half my shift had flown past and my sides ached from laughing so much. In less than 4 hours I would be joining them in the land of nod. If this was to be the norm, then I was destined to enjoy the work. It only took until the second stint to realise there would never be any such thing as a typical night.

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