Forget Dancing on Ice, that’s no challenge; ‘reservations on rollerskates’ is the next big thing! And it’s all happening at the Cambridge headquarters of Premier Holidays reservations.
Due to an increase in sales generated by hardworking agents, the staff are rushed off their feet. To get around the place a bit quicker, Debbie Goffin, head of sales and marketing, has invested in a pair of Heelys – the trainers with wheels that every child worth its salt wears to the supermarkets to recreate It’s a Knockout-style challenges in the aisles – and is now freewheeling between her office and the reservations teams.
I guess it’s just a matter of time before sales manager David Kneale is gliding around the building with her as he has already had to give up the comfort and tranquillity of his Ford Focus to join the frenzied reservations department.
More used to clutching a gear stick than a phone, David has had to get to grips with the sort of multi-tasking that the res gang are used to. While his back was turned, another phone was installed, to add to the first two, and he is now simultaneously dealing with quotations, agent queries and general enquiries.
Fit to blow a gasket, he is eager to get back on the road again, but, from the sounds of things, the only wheels he’ll be seeing are a matching pair like Debbie’s!
Old men’s underpants
Another man seeking the joys of the open road came in with his wife recently to book a coach trip. The elderly couple wanted to visit Germany and were happy with the deal I’d secured them with Bakers Dolphin.
At least, she was. Her smile contrasted with his rather anxious expression.
“Are you happy with this?” I asked the old gentleman, “Only, you look a little uncomfortable.”
“I’m not now,” he replied, “but I will be on the coach. It’s the seats. I’ve just realised we’ll be on the gold coach and it’s got leather seats.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I said. “You don’t want seats covered in that itchy, industrial acrylic stuff they use for school buses. Leather is the luxury option.”
He looked at me for a moment before he opened his mouth and said, “My bottom gets hot on them. And it irritates my downstairs department.”
Crumbs. What does one say? I laughed it off and told him not to wear his thermals.
“Oh, he doesn’t wear thermals,” chipped in the wife. “He’s a cotton Y-fronts man. Always has been. Anything else isn’t structured enough for his chap’s bits.”
As the young people say: OMG, TMI (oh my god, too much information). Feeling myself blushing, I called Mark at Bakers Dolphin to check the upholstery of the coach as a matter of urgency. Our dignity clearly depended on it.
“You’re in luck,” I told the old chap. “The seats are fabric, it’s just the decorative trim that’s leather!”
What a relief. Hot cheeks (of both varieties) averted!
Elvis is alive in Dorset
The revelation of the geriatric underpants wasn’t the only secret that was disclosed to me that day. I sat next to our accountant Brian at a dinner the other evening, and by the end of our conversations, boy did we know more about him than we could have possibly inferred from his smart, business-like exterior.
An aunt of mine once advised my sister and me to find accountants to marry. “They may be a trifle dull, but you’ll never want for anything,” she said.
Clearly, she hadn’t come across Brian. It turned out that his real passion isn’t for number crunching, but for rocking out.
Before he donned a navy blazer, he sported a red coat of the Butlins entertainer variety. As an Elvis impersonator, his act was so popular that he took it beyond the camps and travelled the world in his blue suede shoes.
Naturally, as time went on, he returned to the UK and progressed to the rhinestone-studded jumpsuit and sideburns of the King circa 1975. It was in this incarnation that he was stopped by police on his way home from a gig.
Advising him of a faulty headlight, they were clearly star struck and practically asked for his autograph before saluting him and sending him on his way.
It’s just a matter of time before someone adds a note to the Wikipedia entry for Elvis to let the world know that he’s alive and well and secretly living in the West Country.
A little less conversation, and we’d never have known Brian’s secret!
Maureen Hill works at Travel Angels in Gillingham, Dorset
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