Ok, when I told my dad that I was scrubbing toilets and showers in a hostel for free accommodation, he wasnâ€™t very impressed, did I spend 5 years at university for nothing he said! Still, I thought this was an opportunity too good to be missed. I worked 2 hours every day in Newcastleâ€™s YHA, changing beds, cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming halls, and didnâ€™t have to pay for my stay (about Â£30, which is roughly what you would get paid for 2 hours work). I even found the odd ten pence piece here and there, which reminds me of a time when I was little; I picked up a coin in the street and was so excited that I told my mum I wanted to become a road sweeper when I grew up so I could find more :-) Anyway, working at the YHA was great, I was free to check out the sights everyday from noon and went out every night for a few drinks with the other guests.
I was told that most YHA along the coast offer this deal, so next time Iâ€™m on the move I always ring up the local YHA to find out if they have any vacancies.
This was a fast run in ten seconds!
As a â€˜member of staffâ€™ I had a bed in one of 3 rooms with a share balcony, allocated to casual workers, so making friends wasnâ€™t difficult and one of my best buddies was my room mate, Frank. At first I though he was really creepy and dodgy, he sounded like Borat, didnâ€™t speak much and kept a 2 litre bottle of coke in the lockers, just that, nothing else. As the days went by, I found out that he was from Romania and had left his wife and two kids back home to find work in the Australianâ€™s mines. He had been in Newcastle for 7 weeks and had not even been invited for an interview. Sad story, which made him quite miserable at times, however his accent was so funny that I couldnâ€™t help laughing at him whenever he spoke.
This is one of his typical stories, bare in mind he was totally serious when he told it and you have to reed it with Boratâ€™s accent, wawaweewa:
Fisherman and a coal ship in the far distance
When I come here first time, I go to restaurant and say to waitress â€˜I want to eat something Australiaâ€™â€¦ She gives me fish and chips! Next day, I go to restaurant and say to waitress â€˜I want to eat something Australia, but no fish and chipsâ€™â€¦ She gives me chicken schnitzel and chips!! I no go there again.
I should talk about Newcastle but I feel particularly uninspired because I simply didnâ€™t like the place.
It was rough! Oh man, I went out on the first Saturday to watch a gig and I saw 2 street fights; a nasty car crash; one mean-looking guy kicking the door of a driver because he took his parking spot; 20 or 30 police cars patrolling and a fair few ambulances; plenty of drunken youth with smudged makeup and miniskirts the size of a belt (bless â€˜em!); and even one guy who asked me to piss on him in the club toilets! Wasnâ€™t very pleasant, I mean the nightâ€¦ I didnâ€™t piss on him really!
After that shocking night I decided to chill out for the next few days with Frank and the guests in the hostel. Mind you, the weather also turned pretty bad, and most of us were stuck inside whether we like it or not. Predictably, as I travelled south, I was leaving behind the sun and I had to dig out my jumpers from the bottom of my rucksack, which had his advantages in that I found some stinky old socks and a pair of pants I thought I had left on the beach on Fraser Island!
On Wednesday morning Frank got a call about an interview, he was so exited he talk to me in Romanian, â€˜Frank I donâ€™t understand what you are sayingâ€™â€¦ so he swapped to English, â€˜Frank, I still donâ€™t understand a word you are saying!â€™ Eventually I got the message.
He had an interview next Tuesday. For the rest of the week he couldnâ€™t stop talking about it, so much was riding on this interview that even I started to worry.