What do you do when you sleep in a makeshift storage facility, all the while working night shifts at your local M&S?
First of all, the ‘’facility’’ in question is in reality a double sized room located in the outskirts of Edinburgh. It’s a third floor, 4 room shared accommodation, which is currently populated by myself and two French girls that are unfortunately flying back to their home country on the 31st of May.
Right now they are venturing though the Isle of Mull and, if i heard correctly, they are planning on savouring their way across Scotland, with Aviemore being their next stop. Haggis will soon turn in to quiches and whisky will turn in to wine, so make the best of it i say. Kindly enough, the weather is offering them the full Scottish experience. The sky is thick and grey and it looks as if at any moment now tiny droplets will start pattering on the kitchen window.
As for myself, i am currently perched next to the kitchen sink, typing away on my tablet while trying not to get distracted by the fresh pasta dough that’s sitting cling-filmed in the fridge. At times it is awfully confusing, or at least it was until I made it clear with myself that my love for food does not mean that I am destined for a life as a chef. Which is quite fortunate for the hospitality industry because, as far as chefs go, I really was not the most driven or the most ambitious.
To be honest, with no sick days in over four years of working fifteen hour days, the one thing that really saved my ass from being fired was my sense of punctuality. It also helped that I kept my fuck-ups to a minimum. But did I visualize myself progressing through the ranks, delegating jobs, pushing through every position (sauce, fish, grill, starters to name a few...) and eventually getting crowned as the new Junior Sous, destined to work next to the kitchen’s Head Chef and feed of off his knowledge and skills?
Haha...no way. I was in it for the money. Not something uncommon in any line of work, especially in London where the price for a single room can easily cost you 600 pounds a month. The most disheartening moment came when I was walking up Holborn’s Southampton Row.
At the time I was working at a beautiful boutique hotel named L’oscar which, in its previous life, was a baroque style Grade 2 listed Baptist church. If you live near by you should definitely pay this place a visit... it is a-ma-zing. I was part of the opening team (even got a L’oscar Opening Team coffee mug to prove it lol) and i was present when the government had sent it’s specialized people over to inspect and observe the workers that where tasked with rejuvenating the ceiling. It was the ceiling located in the area which would eventually become the restaurant/bar and, as it was part of the Heritage, these people where there to make sure that it was not messed with in ways which would alter it’s original qualities.
Trust me guys.. If you live near by just walk up to the concierge and ask him if you could have a look around the premises. He will definitely say yes and you will definitely be taken aback by this intricate little hotel. The bathroom sinks have glass levers shaped like hummingbirds, the furniture is a dark velvety shade of purple and the waiting room, with it’s towering book cases (shrines dedicated to every Oscar Wilde and every Virginia Wolfe novel ever written), it’s mahogany floors and it’s intricate (but unfortunately disabled) fireplace, does a wonderful job shedding away all of the discomfort that goes hand in hand with the forced formality of most high end hotels.
I had just clocked out of a 16 hour shift and my brain was mush. We where basement dwellers, destined to run around under the soft glow of artificial lighting. So it warmed my heart when I heard a random passer by speak Greek with a heavy suburban accent. I felt warm and cosy and I knew that I had to stop and say hello. I learned it was his sister that coerced him in to taking the leap, as she had been living in The City for the past 8 years and she offered him a couch to sleep on until he managed to settle down on his own. I knew quite well what this man was going through and I tried my best to suppress any flashbacks which would unearth the dizzying flurry of experiences that took place during my first days in Earl’s Court.
I also learned that, for 2 months now, he has been working as a kitchen porter at an Asian fast food restaurant (It was one of those big ones...Sushi Go I think it was called) which prompted me to ask about his monthly pay.
His response laid the foundations for my departure. It is also worth mentioning that I was pretty damn close at falling victim to a knife attack by a guy with a black tattoo on his neck (No joke. I will be getting in to deeper detail on a separate post) and, as you can imagine, this incident meant that I would be flying to Edinburgh sooner rather than later.