Around London in 80 days
In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.
And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.
Day 48: Sporks
Wembley Stadium. It’s a match day. Black trousers, white shirt, waistcoat: I’m ready. I have joined the ranks of hospitality.
There’s hundreds of us, mostly in our twenties, who will spend the night running between bars and entrances to provide drinks, help people find their way around and clean up some of the mess after them. London is expensive, you have to earn a living. £7.5 an hour isn’t much but it’s something. Besides, it is a good way to discover new places through the various events we are sent to work at.
The briefing starts, we’re each assigned to a supervisor who talks us through the evening ahead. It’s detailed and intense as if we were preparing for some kind of military intervention. At the end of the brief, a quick dinner break then we’re on: the madness is about to start.
The doors open: thousands of people enter the stadium at once. We are swamped in a sea of humans. It’s loud, it’s messy, we’re all running around in the rising smells of hot dogs and nachos.
The bar staff is overworked already. I’m on the ground with my team. We’ve been assigned a special job: replenishing the cutlery and condiment holders. Surprisingly stressful task, I must say, a constant run between front and back of house to make sure each customer has continuous access to plenty of choice.
The manager has divided the work: Laurie’s in charge of ketchup, Andy is HP sauce, Martha takes care of sugar, Matt’s in charge of salt and pepper (this is not his first time on the job). Then there’s the cutlery: Mary keeps an eye on the knives and I am in charge of sporks*.
*a clever invention that brings together the best of spoons and forks.