I've started working for a promotions agency who provide staff for big events at places like Wembley Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground and the Silverstone Grand Prix. Scarf has been working through them for about a year now, and her commitments have varied from twice a month to once every couple of months. It's your choice as to how often you work, but the more you work the more work you get offered. Most of the events require hostesses. Hostessing at Wembley, which is what I did the past two weekends, is a fairly easy job which involves a lot of standing around and looking pretty. Depending on where you're stationed, you might also have to seat people at tables or give them directions around the stadium. You get treated very well by management and customers alike, and the pay is good: £100 - £150 for doing very little. I'm going to try and make it a regular monthly thing, just for some extra cash to burn as I see fit (expect photos of new pairs of shoes to fill this space soon), but my reason for working two weekends in a row now is that I have to come up with £700 for all the visas I need, and my salary is just not that elastic.
I've been a little cranky as a result of giving up the majority of 2 weekends in a row, and am only now starting to catch up on sleep. The work itself is fine, and I have met some really lovely girls through the agency. Most are dancers, actors and models who do promotions for extra cash in between castings and auditions. A few are students, and I am one of only a handful who work full time.
All three events I worked at were football matches. The first one was the FA Cup Final, which is kind of a big deal in the football world. Such a pity I don't give a toss who wins, or even who plays. The other two were smaller league games (don't know if I said that right), but there was a rather interesting turn of events towards the end of the day on Sunday. Leeds were playing Doncaster in the play-offs (don't worry, I don't know what they are either), and their rivalry apparently dates back many years, mostly due to the fact that the two cities are so near each other. There were twice as many Leeds fans as Doncaster, and they were definitely the more spirited of the two. Just before the match began, the Leeds fans in the restaurant I was working in (we had a mix of the two teams, unlike some of the smaller restaurants where the fans are separated) gathered around the entrance, linked arms and started belting out anthems and chants in support of their team. They can really make a noise when they want to, and it was quite a thrilling sight to witness nearly all the guests united in enthusiastic solidarity behind their team. Off they went out into the stadium, and the match commenced. By half time, Doncaster were leading 1-0. The guests came back into the restaurant for half time drinks, and although they were a little rowdy, there was no trouble that we could see. Part of their package deal is light refreshments and more drinks post match. We were getting ready for the influx as the game drew to a close, with Doncaster still leading 1-0, when word came from the police that no alcohol was to be served.
Anticipating a backlash ("I paid for these tickets, where are my drinks????"), Club Wembley Management made the decision to instead close the restaurant entirely. We still don't know what happened to prompt the chain of events; perhaps there were brawls in the stadium itself (although the fans are kept separated, so it is difficult to start something). Security at footie matches here is usually very good, and every effort is made to keep the fans apart at all times, but inevitably shit goes down once they are outside the stadium, and in recent weeks a fatal football-related stabbing made the front page news.
Anyway, the fans, who were visibly angry at being kept out of the restaurant, lined up outside the cloak room and demanded the return of their belongings. We lined up on the other side of the cloak room, and the staff gave us the guests' table numbers so we could run and collect their things. In the meantime, a few fans were not about to accept this lying down, and they went along pushing at all the doors in turn, trying to get in. Some poen (idiot) forgot to lock one the doors, and the next thing we knew, scores of angry fans were streaming into the restaurant. They were understandably pissed off, even more so as they made their way into a place they were forcibly barred from. There was a lot of yelling and swearing, and shouting about what a disgrace Wembley is. Of course, all the hostesses were all dressed in red suits and we looked rather official, so they wrongly assumed we had something to do with the decision making. Out of nowhere we had groups of angry, semi-pissed men who wanted explanations getting up in our faces.
Security quickly grabbed us and ushered us into a back room, then went back out and grabbed all the waiters as well. We stayed in there while Club Wembley Management, general security and a special response team took almost an hour to get everybody out the restaurant, and the tension in the air was thick and ugly. There were no actual fights inside, but you can bet Wembley suffered some public embarrassment from the cock up. It seemed to be blown completely out of proportion, with most fans that we did come across saying what a terrible way it was to end an otherwise great day. But I suppose they have been handling these things for years, and maybe they did see something we didn't.
Anyway, we were all delighted at the interruption and the early end of our shift, and we have a great dinner party story to tell: How we nearly got attacked by football hooligans. Alright, how we got shouted at by a few pissed off fans. Still, it doesn't happen everyday now, does it? ;-)