If the Choo fits…


A dull and overcast Friday evening could not dampen the enthusiasm of a group of operators, agents and friends gathered at the Thai Square City Restaurant in London to bid farewell to colleague Richard Hume, marketing director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and to welcome the new director of TAT, Khun Tanes Petsuwan.


It was great to see Richard again and I congratulated him on his new post with the Hong Kong Tourist Board. Clearly, his career is washing him all around the Pacific basin! As with all such events, it’s lovely to catch up with people you’ve not seen for a while, and I was particularly happy to see Danielle Porter, product manager at Sunset Faraway Holidays, looking fit and healthy. I’d last seen Danielle at a wedding in Thailand in November and had since heard that she’d had a spell in hospital. Fortunately, her days as a medical case study are behind her and she’s now as fit as a fiddle. Was there anything, I asked her, that had helped speed her recovery? Plenty of fruit, perhaps, or regular reiki sessions with an alternative therapist? Danielle looked at me conspiratorially, and said things had really turned around when she suggested that the nursing staff replace her saline drip with vodka…


Of course, knowing Danielle as I do, it didn’t surprise me that she had made this suggestion. She’s a feisty blonde with the tenacity of a terrier. I am reminded of the time she spotted Jimmy Choo, cobbler to the stars, at a Malaysian fashion show at which he was a guest.


Determined to have her photograph taken with the footwear icon (it’s a girl thing, this adulation of men who care about women’s feet), she accosted him, swung him into position next to her and instructed the photographer to snap. Unfortunately, just at that moment, a waitress tripped and dropped a tray of glasses on Danielle’s toes. Both her feet were cut and her shoes spattered in blood in a wholly un-designer way. I think she was secretly hoping Mr Choo would give her a free pair of his designer shoes to hobble off in, but the man himself simply looked bewildered and fled the scene.


She‘s abbi to dance


Goodness, the mention of shoes has made me digress… Back to the TAT party. As usual I was bound by the dictates of the South West Trains timetable, but I stayed long enough to hear Richard’s colleague Abbi Silver and former marketing director Chris Lee, now at Travelmood, express their praise for the job Richard’s done and to recount some of the highlights of his time in the office.


The formalities over, Richard was then able to let his hair down and I’m told he made it on to the dance floor balancing two beers – impressive in anyone’s books. Also taking to the floor were Chris Lee and Abbi, though if Chris thought he was partnering an amateur, he was wrong. Inspired by Saturday nights filled with Strictly Dance Fever, and imagining herself feted by Arlene Phillips, Abbi has been having dance lessons that have not only developed her footwork but her stamina too. Poor Chris was practically left for dead after Abbi had worked her disco magic, and had to stagger outside to take some air.


It may be that the King of Thailand himself has heard about Abbi’s dancing as she has been invited to Bangkok to participate in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of his succession to the throne. Let’s just hope he knows what he’s in for.


Another great mover at Richard’s send-off proved to be Sue from Silverbird who must surely practise her hip wiggle for hours on end. Another guest, who shall remain nameless, could not be persuaded to move away from the bar.


When I asked him what was preventing him from demonstrating his lower body mobility, he told me that the last time he’d attended a TAT function he’d slipped on a dropped king prawn and sprained his ankle. Apparently, it was such a spectacular fall that other guests in attendance thought he was break dancing and left him lying there. I look forward to the photographs of the party and wish Richard a happy holiday in Thailand before he takes up his new post.


A pilot episode


We often laugh about the roles that travel agents are cast in by the public, whether it be marriage guidance counsellor, health adviser, insurance expert or nutritionist and it’s always fun when a new role comes up. Take this week, when Ange, our administrator, became a costumier for the day.


The client strode into the shop and made a beeline for Angela.


“What do pilots wear?” he bellowed.


“Pilots?” asked Ange, “World War II pilots? Airline pilots? Hot air balloon pilots? What kind of pilots do you mean?”


“The Gatwick kind!” barked the man, “I’m going to a fancy dress ball and I thought you’d be able to help!”


Angela laughed and sent him to a charity shop to find a dark suit, then on to the haberdasher for some gold braid. Before he left, she wrote out a brief script: “Unfortunately, air traffic control have informed us that, owing to high winds, low-flying birds and an ‘r’ in the month, we are being placed in a holding position for 30 minutes.”


“Say that in a smooth but authoritative voice and you’ll win first prize, no question,” she said. “Oh, and pluck your eyebrows, otherwise you won’t achieve the enigmatic eye flash when you spot a pretty stewardess!”


It’s all about attention to detail with Ange. That’s why our admin is second to none.