Right, so where were we? Having been given three costumes to put in my locker it was time to learn the job, and as I was to be working on both reception and the restaurant I would be learning how to do the famous “bunny dip.” This would involve carrying a tray of drinks with one hand, above shoulder level, and once reaching the table leaning backwards but facing away from the table to pick each drink up and somehow twist around to place it on the table without spilling it all over someone. This took time to learn but it’s not something you ever feel really comfortable with doing as you were always thinking that today would be the day it all went wrong. Another hazard of the job was the bunny tail. Held on with press studs I sometimes lost my tail when I was trying to squeeze between tables, I’d go one way and my tail would go another, but there was always someone willing to put it back on for me as you can imagine.
The restaurant I worked in attracted a lot of business men who were members of the club, they would bring clients there hoping to impress (and it never failed) as the food was great and would usually leave a generous tip when they paid for their meal but as it was going to be shared with every single person that worked there, as well as being taxed on, it was highly unlikely you would ever see much of it. The same thing happened in every bar and in the casino, so no matter if you were given a tip everyone had to hand them in.Wearing the costume I was wearing meant there was really no place to put them so it was a case of handing them in, and hoping that it was a good month so that everyone else working there had also done well with tips.
I always worked on reception on Saturday nights, the night when a lot of the members would bring their wives as there was always a good act on in the main entertainment room, then a lot of people would make their way downstairs to the casino for a flutter, a good night out apparently. The guys who were members of the club usually treated the girls with respect, some were professional gamblers so to be honest, you were just part of the furniture to them as they were there to try and make money, it was always the visitors/guests who were the problem who sometimes tried to over step the mark but a word in their ear by a manager would usually calm things down. The thing with Saturday nights though, it was the women who were brought in as guests who were the problem. As their husband/partner/boyfriend signed them in you could see them really eyeing you up, but you had to bite your tongue because it wasn’t your place to tell them that don’t worry, you’re really not interested in someone who spends all their money (and probably yours) gambling.
I rarely worked in the casino, I helped out a few times serving drinks but I find it weird that there’s never any windows or clocks, a foolproof way to make gamblers lose track of time so that they always try one more time to get their money back. But I did see a guy lose an awful lot of money once which resulted in him losing his restaurant in Chinatown. At the time I worked there it was the early 80’s, so the casino seemed to attract a lot of young guys who had come over from the Arab states, who were here for an education but had more money than they knew what to do with. They all had the flash cars but as none of were allowed to accept a lift home from anyone (instant dismissal) it was always the bus for me. The club was situated on Canal Street Manchester which is now the infamous gay village, but at that time there were only a couple of gay bars, which are still there, so it wasn’t too far from the bus station to get the bus home when I finished at 4am. The annoying bit was waiting for two hours before the first bus of the day arrived at 6am, you can imagine the drunks and undesirables hanging around at that time.
Another time, another place, another life.