Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oddballs

In Friday's Sun sign forecast for Aquarius, Jonathan Cainer wrote "You know some very strange people. It is almost as if you are a magnet for oddballs and eccentrics. Somehow they know that you will accept them as they are. " I chuckled to myself. Nowadays I don't mix and mingle much, I'm in a bit of a 12th house situation here - and happy enough with that. As it happens my Aquarius Sun does fall in 12th house when relocated to Oklahoma. The natives here would not be particularly friendly anyway, at least not to an atheistic socialist like me. I have, myself, become the oddball, it seems. Sometimes we're the windscreen, sometimes the bug - as they say.

Mr. Cainer's words were true enough though, during my younger years in what I think of as "my hotel period", late 1950s early 1960s. I left home and a steady job in a local government department, to work in the office of a small hotel in a picturesque part of North Yorkshire. This was, I'd worked out, a way to achieve independence and freedom, but still be provided with a room and food plus wages. What else could a gal wish for? This experience of a few short months left me with a yen to do more of the same. There was for me, in those days, a kind of addiction attached to working in hotels. I can't adequately explain it now, but it existed. I met quite a few others with the same affliction in my stints of seasonal interludes (coast in summer, city in winter) in various English hostelries. These individuals, some fellow-hotel staff, some from outside were unusual characters, not truly eccentric, but to my young, small-town sensibilities they fell into that category. There were times when I used to ask myself, in those days, "Why don't I ever meet anybody ordinary - "normal?"

Let's see....among my special friends there was E., a dark willowy beauty from Dominique who had left her island homeland because she'd fallen in love with her priest - and that's not A Good Thing in a Roman Catholic community. And K. an Irish waiter, charismatic guy who one night broke in to the place where the safe was kept, and managed to extract and abscond with a goodly chunk of the hotel's dosh. There was O., charming young man with whom I instantly fell in love but after a few months he disappeared. I later discovered he had been a fugitive, AWOL from the army, got caught, did his time. Many years later, alerted by his sister, I saw him again in a military hospital, being treated for TB.

Can't forget Mr S., not a staff colleague, but hotel customer - a rather withdrawn and lonely, single peripatetic bank manager (very Woody Allen-ish) who took a shine to me, the hotel receptionist. He'd stop at the office window regularly and chat for ages. On the day he left I received a huge, huge bouquet of gorgeous bronze chrysanthemums, sent by him via the local flower store, just because I'd happened to say that I love the autumn. And there was H. the lion keeper from Longleat (a safari park) -I kid you not - he wrote to me for some months after I'd moved on, always with a little lion in his signature. There was the shoe salesman, a boyfriend I managed somehow to get involved with - perfectionist, prone to depression, who some years later commited suicide. A brighter spark was the young guy who believed he was the illegitimate son of local aristocracy, drove around in a beat-up old Bentley limousine, swore he'd be a millionaire by the time he was 30.

Ah, there were more - many more - and they remain oddly clear in memory. Eventually the haphazard hotel lifestyle lost its charm and it was back to a staid government office, regular hours, regular people, cooking own meals, living in own space. I'd had something of an oddball learning curve, but one I'm glad I didn't miss.

10 comments:

R J Adams said...

It's strange, isn't it, how few 'normal' people there are in the world?

myrlock said...

the H from the safari park? is that the safari park that "Christian" the lion came from?

Shawn Carson said...

it seems that aquarians tend to show up, just about the time things get interesting...
sounds like there may be a great novel full of interesting characters, just waiting for you to write more about them.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'd love to read more about that era, T, I am reminded of one of my very fave shows "Fawlty Towers".
I am only comfortable with oddballs, never can quite 'get' the more mundane.
XO
WWW

anthonynorth said...

That sounds like you had a good time. Mindst you, the catering industry has changed very much over here now. One of my sons is a chef, and it's hard to find a vacancy with room any more. Moving from hotel to hotel involves much flat hunting. They've ruined a great way of life.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ True, and as they say in Yorkshire "All t'world's queer save thee an' me - an' even thee's a bit queer". ;-)

Twilight said...

myrlock ~ Don't think so - Christian came from Harrods zoo and before that a zoo in a seaside town. Had to look that up though - hadn't heard the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_the_lion

Twilight said...

Shawn Carson ~ Yep! I thought the same thing myself as I drafted the post (and deleted a long paragraph mentioning even more "characters".)
Life and Soap Opera are hard to distinguish between at times. ;-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I know! Fawlty Towers kept coming to mind as I wrote that. And I didn't even get around to mentioning any hotel proprietors/managers i knew - some of whome rivalled old Basil F. for weirdness. ;-)

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~ Yes it was a learning experience alright.

I did wonder whether the lifestyle still exits - you answered my question. I guess it's too expensive now to house and feed staff, as they did in those days.
Or thather , it cuts too far into the God PROFITS. ;-) The "magical" addictive quality will have been removed from hotel life now, I suspect. :-)