Friday, 21 April 2006

Christmas 1964

I have agreed to work over Christmas and Emilio has arranged for those who are working to stay in the hotel, so hopefully we will have some fun......... even Emilio said it should be interesting.........sometimes he says things with such a naughty twinkle in his eye..........

The guests have been very generous to us girls and apart from money we have received nylons (lol still waiting for tights to come along) chocolates and Theatre tickets - not to mention invitations to dinner ;-)

Christmas Eve - I am working 12.0pm til 6.30pm. Met Jenny after work so went to do some later night shopping. From November the shops in the West End would stay open quite late to enable workers to do their Christmas shopping - 24 hour opening was still decades away..........sigh. Then went to Trafalgar Square to join in the Carol singing - it was a lovely sight with all the beautiful Christmas lights. Then met up with Bernie and some of the staff from Stratters and The Grosvenor Court Hotel at The Woodstock pub, which is just across the road from Stratters, for a few drinks. When Dottie, my fellow telephonist, finished work at 10.30pm we met in her room, the lads on reception finished at 11.0pm and then they joined us. Emilio knocked on the door and asked us to keep the noise down - but then gave us a couple of bottles of wine lol!

My room was comfortable, but I found it difficult to sleep. On at 8.0am Christmas Day - Emilio asked what time I had got to sleep - I think it was somewhere around 2.0am - he just raised his brow and gave me a knowing look :-/ Whatever was he thinking............?

We were all invited into the Restaurant for a very good Christmas lunch, so different from last year when Alasdair Fraser put the kibosh on any possible frivolity. Emilio kept giving me funny looks, but think he was feeling a bit out of his depth, he tends to giggle and pull funny faces when he’s feeling awkward (aw bless!) He bought us all drinks, and at 2.0pm I finished my shift and went over to Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair to work till 6.0pm and it was more drinking there.....Went back to Stratters to keep Dottie company whilst she worked the evening shift - we were feeling rather giggly by this time as what few guests we had in the hotel kept buying us drinks.....Emilio came in and spoke to us rather sternly, which rather knocked the Christmas spirit out of us, but then came back to apologise and bought us more drinks.......He fussed round us all evening asking if there was anything we wanted. The night porters didn’t turn up, so me’n Dottie stayed to cover the switchboard and the boys stayed on Reception until midnight then we all went to Dottie’s room again for another party.

Stayed in bed late then had a leisurely bath and breakfast in my room - ah this is the life ;-) We all had dinner in the restaurant again, Emilio said he could hear me giggling last night at our party..........Working 2.0pm til 8.30pm, met Pat & Dickie later at the Gresham Ballroom in Islington, had great fun, then singing all the way home in the snow - oh didn’t I mention it had been snowing?........Yep - it snowed at Christmas in those days ;-) Fell into bed 2.0am.

On late shift today, so cooked Christmas lunch with Pat & Dickie, Jenny came over too. Sorry that I had to leave them playing party games to go into work :-( Emilio in and out of the switch room all evening - nothing better to do, as the hotel is so quiet, eventually he said I could go home early. They were still partying at Pat & Dickie’s and I have the feeling that this is when we took the silly photographs........

By New Year’s Eve I was feeling pretty wobbly - I’d done a lot of over time over Christmas - we get double pay and very well looked after at other hotels, so have to earn a bit extra whilst we can - and too many late nights. Jenny has invited me to a party tonight and as it is New Year’s Eve, I feel I have to force myself to go - can’t stay in on the best night of the year. The party turned out to be at Cardew Robinson’s home. He was popularly know as ‘Cardew the Cad’ due to his part in the film ‘Fun at St Fanny’s’ circa 1956. He was on TV Saturday 1st April in ‘Carry On Up the Khyber’ playing the Kafir. A tall skinny fellow with a big boney nose, he was never a Star, but popped up all over the place in films and on TV. The house was bursting with partygoers, he seemed to be a very affable chap who didn’t mind all these strange people in his house. There was a large conservatory at the back of the house where there was plenty of food, drink and dancing. Didn’t leave until 3.15 am, went to Jenny’s, who lives out in Clapham, for a couple of hours sleep then on to work for the early shift.........I even managed to do an extra shift at The Green Park Hotel in the afternoon - talk about burning the candle at both ends :-/ Joined the boys in mulled wine and hot mince pies before falling into bed.......

I finally asked Emilio about finding me a room at Ashley Court, and a couple of days later he got back to say that there was a double room available. Well, I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, and I know rooms at Ashley Court are not easy to come by, but I really didn’t want to share. I’ve told him that I’d rather hold out for a single room. He sighed, raised his eyebrows and told me not to be so fussy - but he will make further enquiries.......

I have started knitting again, I’d seen this black mohair wool in Marshall & Snelgrove - a rather old fashioned and slightly posh store just next to Stratters. I used to go in there just to use the ladies toilets because they were so grand, very large and decorated in beautiful art deco tiles. Anyway, I noticed the wool was half price, and never one to resist a bargain, I looked around for a suitable pattern. I settled on a button up jacket, but as I got knitting, noticed the dye coming off on my hands! I took the wool back and they exchanged it for another batch, but the same thing happened. The assistant suggested washing the wool to see if that made a difference, but if I wanted to continue buying the wool, I could have it at a bargain price. I found that washing the wool did solve the problem of the dye coming off, so I took up the offer of buying the whole batch. With so much wool, I decided to turn the jacket into a coat. When it was finished I lined it with a leopard print silk lining . With some of the left over wool I knitted a matching bag, lined it with the same material and attached a long chain necklace in place of a strap.

As Emilio worked over Christmas and New Year, he is now having a few days off, and it’s not the same without him. I can understand to a certain extent why he is not very popular with the rest of the staff, poor Emilio - he’s his own worst enemy, but I can see the vulnerable side to him and for as long you treat him with a certain amount of respect - he’s just fine. Well apart from the sudden temperamental outbursts.........

But then, there was something I didn’t know about him that others did................

5 comments:

mckaygillian said...

Oooo...come on!  You can't leave us hanging on like that!
As ever, Freda, another brilliant entry...sounds like you had such an exciting time when you were young.  Can't believe you're leaving us on another HUGE cliffhanger...beats Eastenders this does :o)
Gill xx
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mckaygillian/GillsJournal

jeadie05 said...

Lots of work and lots of fun ,burning the candle at both ends oh to have that sort of stamina now ,stockings oh you lucky thing ,The knitted coat sounded 'fab ',I am so enjoying this story thank heaven for your Diarys........Jan xx

jeanno43 said...

Oooh she leaves us in suspenders!  Another great entry Freda.  Oh yes I remember Cardew Robinson, like you said he was all over the place at one time and then just vanished.  Memories memories like carols in Trafalgar Square.  Thank you.  

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

nedmoh said...

I love reading your stories Freda.I wonder how you managed with the lack of sleep you certainly enjoyed all those partys.The coat and bag you knitted sounded nice.Looking forward to hearing more about poor Emilio..........Jeanx

flflame99 said...

I remember the New Year's Eve party because I was Cardew's wife at the time.  We lived at Kingsbridge Avenue in Ealing.  That one party does not stick out in my mind because we had many such events over the years.  The conservatory was eventually made into a table tennis room for the many celebrities that came to the house, such as Tommy Cooper, Arthur Haines, Sid James the whole cast of Camelot and on and on.  I now live in Miami, Florida.  Eileen K. Nash