I awake, it’s midday and it must be 40 degree’s celsius outside yet it is far hotter in this room I share with my current boyfriend. I stare at the broken window with a bed sheet acting as a curtain whilst my head bangs from a mixture of the drunken cocktails the night before mixed with the severe dehydration of having no water. I stumble out of the sweat filled bed and into the kitchen of the tiny fixed caravan to come across my devil caravan-mate who woke me with the blare of dubstep from the stereo. I have no cigarettes, we all have no cigarettes or water. I stagger out the front door to the killing yet beautiful sun to the neighbours, they are still asleep. I rummage around in their kitchen, grab myself 3 cigarettes and back to bed I go.

Six hours later I awake again with the dread of work. Oh god how bad I feel. If you have ever had a hellish hangover, try that 90 days in a row,  that is a real hangover. I shower in cold water, take one step out the shower and covered in sweat again. What is the point especially when air-conditioning just isn’t a possibility.  I quickly apply some make-up, tie my hair up, grab my stuff and start the 1Km walk to work. I envy all the tourists looking fresh, smiling and loving the sun. Where’s my tan? It’s not uncommon to be sick on the way to work or whilst at work. I enjoy my job, I’m a photographer in pubs and nightclubs and often “prop” on the street, encouraging tourists to come into the bars; the pay is good, the hours are great and the people are fabulous.

Work finishes around 1am which is a brilliant time to finish, many worker’s I know finish 5 or 6 in the morning with less pay than me and not one day off, ever. Yet, it is so exhausting, this routine is taking a toll on my body. I’m pale, im losing weight by the week and generally look ill despite living out of burger king. It could be worse, many people I know have turned to cocaine among the worker community just for the energy boost required, there is a major drug problem. Families fall apart, moral’s are left in their country of origin and the behaviour becomes more outrageous as time goes on. I’ve noticed a change in myself, I was shy and sweet yet I’ve really had to toughen up to survive in this society; the rumours, the lies; the accusations. You genuinely turn quite feisty in this type of environment. It could be compared to eastenders, but this is real life. People fall out, people get severely battered, the police turn a blind eye. You hear of rapes, drug gangs running people out of the area and all of a sudden you become aware of the real situation, but we also turn a blind eye and live in bliss.

Thankfully, the tourists see the happy drunk staff, the friendliness, the euphoric energy we provide and everything we can to make them have a great time. It’s not all doom and gloom, it is the most fun experience you can imagine. Aside all the bitchiness, the workers form a strong bond, we know everyone, and we party till sunrise. We look after each other, do favours and enjoy each other’s company. We are out every night, we cannot help it. You begin the night of working with the mindset of absolutely no alcohol however, in the type of environment its hard to resist. As the night progresses you drink to settle your stomach and before you know it 1 turns into 20 or 30. I wouldn’t change it for the world, it’s a family and its full of laughter.

However, there are some problems with this lifestyle:

  1. Out of Season
  2. Stability & Security
  3. Influence
  4. Psychological

1. Every high season must end in a low season in which for most workers (unless you are an owner/manager/resident) means the loss of jobs. The majority of the venues close over the winter period so you have a couple of options. Stay on and be part of the foreign equivalent to  income benefits or go home which poses more potential problems. For example, you gave up your flat and job just to come back to nothing or possibly you come back to your flat whilst   struggling throughout the summer paying for 2 properties, yet still to come back to no job. The other extreme being students not returning for their course only to be forced home out of season to return to not being able to continue due to non-appearance and general immaturity throwing your life away for sake of a few weeks.

2. It’s sad when you see 50-year-old waitresses hagged from the sun and alcohol consumption over the years working in a backstreet karaoke pub. Yet you see it. Tired and exhausted but no other choice. This is the reality of what happens unless you make something of yourself. Having no connections to the home country anymore, there is no opportunity to ever leave and not being fluent in the native language poses problems for other job opportunities. It’s not just the oldie’s who are affected, youngsters will never properly get their feet on the ground unless they are from a rich background so as fun as it is, I wouldn’t recommend it as a permanent life plan but just as a few summer seasons whilst young.

3. Behaviour, drugs and alcohol. There is a fair amount of peer pressure in these so called holiday resorts, not to just look good but in some ways to out do each other. Everyone sleeps with everyone, fine in our generation and in such a party resort but some take it a little too far. A friend of mine when drunk gets dared to sleep with some of the most gruesome men you have seen and she does it, hilarious to everyone else, mortifying for her the next day but unless you can stand up for yourself these sort of dares are common practice and yes funny but regrettable. There are drugs everywhere, we know the dealers and even the workers influence you to join in. To be honest, it’s not so much of a problem if its discrete and each to their own but I have seen friends change over the years and the dependency is just plain obvious nowadays.

4. Oh the psychological side, my god how much it changes you. Its done me some good to be honest. I use to always be walked over for being so nice I would say, not anymore, at least I can stand up for what’s right. Other problems you shall notice is sleeping, to keep it simple, no alcohol equals no sleep (ever). I think you become so use to konking out from alcohol without it you literally lie for hours and hours awake as the morning arrives, a personal problem I have suffered from. Furthermore, the change back to reality to your home, adjusting again is more difficult than you may think, once again you have responsibilities. You need concentration, confidence and let’s be honest, your morals.

These are the bad points of working in a drink-fuelled holiday resort but I genuinely think  the pro-points outweigh these by far. The lasting relationships you form with people all over the world never seem to fade even if it has been a few years. The drunken giggles, the adventures we share and the plain right stupid things we have all done just make stronger bonds and amazing stories to bring back home. You genuinely care about and love everyone you work and live with, being in such a small environment and being  constantly compannioned with them 24/7 ensures you get to know people more than you would in a nomal home environment. For many years I have been returning to this certain resort and the new faces quickly fit in and continually appear year after year until they are part of the “family”.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Cathryn Gribben