After writing the post about the haunted hotel on Bute, I stumbled across a great blog by a writer currently experiencing life on the island who described the hotel’s commanding location overlooking Rothesay perfectly.
“…it looks down over the harbor like a Grand Dame, watchful and enticing and dangerously tilted and slightly reproachful.”
It was great to see a picture of the ‘Grand Dame’ again and it jaunted my memory about my last ever day working at the Glenburn. I’m not sure I should share it as it makes the list of ‘embarrassing moments in my life’ (not a short list I have to say) but what the hell, it’s also an example of how conscientious a worker I am.
I’d moved from being a night porter to the less scary position of day porter and one of my more entertaining duties was as ‘projectionist’. Rothesay was ‘in between’ cinemas at that time and the only way to see movies on anything like a big screen was in the ballroom of the Glenburn Hotel on a Sunday night.
My training involved five minutes with the projector and a couple of bits of information that I’d remembered from an episode of Columbo (who says TV isn’t educational). Basically all I had to do was start the movie and wait until a white circle appeared on screen warning me that a reel was about to end then immediately switch to the second reel when it flashed for a second time. There were usually three reels per movie, so that meant I had to concentrate only twice during any screening…easy job.
Unfortunately I was on a split shift on my last day; something like 12-3pm and 6-11pm. I say unfortunately because this meant that I was able to start my leaving party in between shifts and spent the afternoon downing pints in the Paddleboat disco below the hotel. Whilst I wasn’t exactly falling about by the time I came back on shift, neither was I stone cold sober.
Of course it was film night. I remember the movie well; it was ‘The Player’ with Ali McGraw. It’s an awful movie; if the word boring hadn’t already been invented that movie would have been its inspiration. Despite this, in movie-starved Rothesay we had a full house.
I managed to pull myself together to set up the projector and started the movie running from behind the two screens which separated me from the punters and acted as my projectionist booth. Even in my slightly inebriated state I was able to change from the first to the second reel seamlessly.
The problems began as the second reel headed towards its conclusion and the volume of lager in my system decided it wanted to escape and NOW. I knew I was minutes away from changeover, but the liquid pressed and bullied my internal dam, reluctant to wait even a few seconds.
I weighed up the options. The toilets were yards away, just outside the ballroom doors. I could be there and back again within a couple of minutes. Only trouble was from the amount of film left on the reel, the changeover could have been in 30 seconds, or four minutes. The idea of returning from the loo to a blank screen and grumbling movie goers didn’t appeal, so I decide to hold on as best I could.
Behind the screens as the seconds stretched into minutes I danced a silent routine which made the Ministry of Silly Walks seem sensible in my bid to repel the rising tide, but that damned white circle refused to appear. Time slowed to an interminable crawl and I realised I’d completely misjudged the timings, but now I’d left it too late. If I made a dash for the toilets, the reel was definitely going to change so I took the only option left…I peed my pants.
Okay, it’s disgusting I know, especially as I was wearing white jeans on which the spreading dark stain might as well have been a neon sign, but in my defence I only had the satisfaction of the audience at heart. How could I save myself and sacrifice their enjoyment of the movie? (that might be a bit more believable if it had been anything other than The Player)
Of course almost as soon as my defences gave way, the white circle flashed mockingly on screen and I was finally able to switch over to the last reel and discreetly leave the ballroom and squelch my way to the toilets.
Luckily there was an electric hand dryer in the loos; I splashed water on my jeans then put both hands on the dryer and tried as best as I could to get my crotch as close to its warm stream of air as possible. I hung from the machine, praying that no one would enter and find me in what looked like a perverse sexual act with a hand dryer…luckily they didn’t and five minutes later I was able to return to my position behind the projector with spotlessly dry trousers as if the whole shameful incident had never happened. I was even able to resume my partying in the Paddleboat afterwards with all my friends amongst the chefs, waiters, waitresses and receptionists oblivious to my ‘unclean’ state.
If there’s anyone out there who happened to be in the Glenburn watching The Player that night, I can assure you that there was a hell of a lot more drama going on at the back of the room than on the movie screen at the front.
You’ve got to admire my commitment to duty though, haven’t you…haven’t you?