Waiter - Grand Hotel Brighton
Not strictly my first job, but it was my first full-time job, having left education. One of the benefits of growing up in a busy seaside town in the 1970s and early 80s was that there was always seasonal work available for youngsters that were not afraid of hard work. I was told at the age of 13 that if I wanted money to buy things and to live life then I needed to earn it..
Between the ages of 13 and 16 during the long school holidays that I enjoyed from my austere boarding school, I did everything from being a Commis Chef in a small restaurant to a waiter in a cafe and for one glorious summer I worked at Brighton aquarium gutting fish early in the mornings and then spending the rest of the day feeding the various mammals and sea life in the building. I was lucky enough to be able to form a close attachment with the five amazing dolphins that were the main attraction within the aquarium.
At 16, I left my boarding school, not entirely by choice and began A levels at Brighton and Hove and Sussex sixth form College, where I lasted one term. After the intensity and pressure that existed in my boarding school seven days a week, the transfer to a state run sixth form college where there seemed to be more breaks than there were lessons was a freedom too far for me. I began working part-time at the Grand Hotel and enjoyed earning regular money going out drinking most nights and making friends around Brighton. I found studying at college extremely boring, subjects I’d chosen computer science, religious philosophy, economics and English did not give me the stimulation or excitement that working one shift at the Grand did. I worked hard, played hard and partied hard in Brighton before I began to feel bored again.
One midweek afternoon when I had a couple of hours to kill between working lunch and dinner in the restaurant I was walking past the RAF careers information office, I saw a sign in the window saying stewards wanted for the RAF catering Squadron, so I thought why not go and do something different, so I went and enquired and began the process of enlisting for the Armed Forces. Quite naive as to what I was going into despite the fact I spent five years in a military boarding school. Remarkably, given the early 1980s recession which for many of the unemployed which was one in 10 of the working population. There was a great long waiting list to join the Armed Forces because of the high unemployment and six weeks later I was running around with a rifle in my hand, learning military drill as part of my basic training and so began the next six years of my life