My fingers are better now, thanks for asking….so here’s the rest.

Diary Entry – 15.11.98
“I’m a fool! An idiot even! Whenever there’s free grog I try to down too much too quickly! I end up really pissed really early on in the night…”

To help overcome the feeling of homesickness I’d try to drink myself to oblivion when ever possible. It wasn’t hard, seeing as we were all pretty much alcoholics any way and any excuse to get drunk was good enough.

There was a couple who were getting married at the hotel. Sarah & Donald were the nicest people and after supplying Donald and his best-man-to-be copious amounts of alcohol for next to nothing one night when I was working the bar, Donald invited me to the reception as a “thank ye”.

He said they had £2000 on the bar and needed help drinking it all. So not one to knock back a free drink (or 12) I gratefully accepted.

The night came around and I got dressed up in my finest suit, made sure I was looking spiffy and headed off to the bar to congratulate Donal & Sarah and to help eliminate some of this bothersome bar tab. I don’t remember much of the night, except that one of the other guests came up and asked me which side of the family I was with and I responded that I wasn’t part of the family, but in fact usually work behind the bar. A bit confused as to why a “mere barman would be allowed to drink with the likes of them” walked off in a bit of a huff. And so I had a few more drinks on his tab.

You have to remember that this wasn’t your “run of the mill” kind of hotel. We used to have all sorts of high-class folks. We had a Marquis stay with us, the Lord and Lady of something…and other “Nobles” like that. Donald & Sarah both came from fairly “well to do” families.

Diary Entry – 17.11.98
“…that’s the problem with this place. You tell one person something and as it goes from person to person the story grows and grows..”

Ballathie was a cesspit for rumors. The smallest insignificant thing can get blown way out of proportion to sound like the worst thing in the world.

One of the receptionists, Kirsty, was the subject of everyone’s hatred for no apparent reason. I thought she was a nice girl and we got on well together, and after a while, we became really good friends. And so, automatically, we were shagging according to everyone else.

I remember one night, Kirsty had just bought herself a new PC and had no idea how to connect to the internet (and I was suffering from internet withdrawals) so she offered that if I could fix it, I could use the net. I ended up spending the night there (because I was too drunk to get home). The story that spread through Ballathie, however, was much more sordid and interesting than what actually happened. But that’s just the way things were there. If you accepted it, it never went too far, but if you struggled and fought back and denied everything, it seemed to just add fuel to the already volatile fire.

Diary Entry – 19.11.98
“People reading my diary wouldn’t believe the kind of people I work with so I may as well not even try….”

One of the waiting staff, Mark, was a mad half Aussie, half Irishman. When I say mad, I mean it very literally!

There was a Bruce Lee movie on telly one night and I was getting right into it, when I heard what could only be described as a brawl happening next door. It turns out that Mark was getting into the movie as well…only a little too much.

He was pretending to be Bruce and basically demolishing his room fighting off his “invisible attackers”….This went on for a couple or weeks. Lucy and I finished a late shift together one night and on our way to our rooms we walked past Mark’s. I stopped and called Lucy over. “Listen to this” I said, as we pressed our ears to his door we could hear Mark “Oohing and Ahhing” like he was in a Bruce Lee film. We had to stifle our laughter as we crept away from there.

Diary Entry – 12.12.98
“There’s nothing better than listening to the haunting sound of a lone pipe echoing through the hills and glens, piercing the still morning air with its chilling call….(sorry, got a bit poetic there!)”

My time at Ballathie quickly came to an end. I’d only been there a few months, but it seemed like forever. I made some great friends both at the hotel and in Perth itself. I’d experienced a different kind of life that has me, to this day, begging for more.

There’s so much more that has happened while I was over there, just little things that well, don’t mean much to anyone else but me, like the Taxi drivers of Perth. During my short time there I got to know every one of them personally (Perth isn’t a big town) and when I’d ring up for a taxi, the lady knew me by voice and regardless of how drunk I was she’d always manage to get me home safely.

Dispatch lady: Helloo, McNally’s Taxi.
Brad: ALKjhfksjdhfksdhh!
DL: Oh Brad is that you.
B: Aye…m’drunk!
DL: Where are ya than dear
?B: Muckies, erkejhwr kjwehrkwht
DL: Right well stay put and we’ll get someone to collect you.
B: Ta!

Guaranteed, someone would eventually find me and take me home.You don’t get that kind of service here! It was as if they actually cared about you, and not just your money.

I tell you, reading back through my diary I get an uncontrollable yearning to go back. Not necessarily to the same place, but to the experience of being in a strange country, experiencing new things. I’ve definitely been bitten by the travel bug and I’m going to try my hardest to feed the little bugger!