A Young Man's Summer Job. - a Memory of Seaview.
In the summer of 1960 I spent my Westminster Hotel School holiday working at The Pier Hotel in Seaview, Isle of Wight, mostly working in the dining room (that white windowed section protruding on the left).
Funnily, I don't recall much of the working part of the summer. I don't think it was very enjoyable and, as a first year student, I hadn't had much experience and had not yet fulfilled the restaurant service component of our training, I didn't know what I was doing which relegated me to running food.
This was my first real stretch of time away from home so it was my first drunk, my first kiss and cycling country lanes which got most of my attention.
My first drunk was engineered by some Italian waiters who plied me with 'scrumpy' (alcoholic draught cider) and red wine until I was reduced to a state of extreme intoxication. They weren't in much better state and, upon leaving the pub they urged me to help them lift a concrete bench up and throw it over a hedge into a bank courtyard. I then had to stagger a couple of miles to my digs in a nearby village home, pushing my bike uphill, arriving and becoming horribly ill, requiring an embarrassing day off work.
Such are the actions of foolish young men, let loose upon the world. By now I was a growing young man (physically and socially) but one with no self confidence at all, especially when it came to girls. Oh, the attraction was there in spades but the ability to make the connection wasn't.
There was a huge family component to the clientele, many of whom brought their au pair girls with them. it was to be a flip off the cuff comment that began my experience with the opposite sex. Walking in the vicinity of the reception desk I overheard an attractive young woman talking to the hall porter and heard her say how embarrassed and exposed she was when walking through the dining room. Passing with a tray of dishes, I quipped, uncharacteristically, 'That's what comes from being so good looking !" and carried on back to the kitchen, thinking nothing of what later struck me as an incredible 'line' of approach.
That same night, as dusk fell after dinner service, I went out and sat on the sea wall in front of the hotel. I noticed a young woman approaching in the poorly lit parking area and, even more shockingly, she came right up to me and introduced herself to me as Riet Berendsen. As her name suggests she was Dutch, and an au pair girl, staying with her host family at the hotel..
What followed is amazing to me to this day but within moments she was in my arms and we kissed . How delicious is that first kiss and. like that scrumpy, also highly intoxicating. I'd love to replay that scene one more time. No doubt I would demonstrate more finesse and consideration. Unfortunately they left a few days later but I had left my address with her and, upon returning to Woolwich, where I lived, and college, I received word from her and we got together before she left for Holland.
Unfortunately , as a result from an authoritarian and abusive parenting, I was left scrambling pathetically with growing up and was not wise enough to create a friendship with this lovely young woman. I've often regretted this and thought of her.
A memory shared byon Feb 2nd, 2015.
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