Band of the Week - Porcupine Tree

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Sunday, 2 December 2007

You know, there are times that I get great ideas for blog posts, usually when I am nowhere near a computer! Today, I wake up at 6 and had this one. So here I am sitting up in bed having rushed down to get my Toshiba laptop in case I forgot what I had in mind to write!
I was listening to Radio 5 Live the other night and they interviewed the comedian Jim Davidson. I met him a few years ago when he stayed at the Empire Hotel when I was employed as the Bars Manager there. He was doing a pantomine at the theatre in Llandudno, and I remember him sitting in the lounge with a tall blonde by his side, possibly Penny Lancaster, who I believe was in the panto with him. He was there a week, so one night I was behind the bar when he came up for a drink. He was wearing an 80's type kakhi parker jacket and ordered a soft drink. The hotel had been quiet that week, and on this night there seemed to be more people about (possibly the weekend influx of residents). As I was serving him he said to me ' who are all these people staying at my hotel?' I don't remember what I replied, probably just laughed at his comment unable to come up with a witty retort. I probably should have said 'Haven't you heard, Jim, there's a Jim Davidson convention in town, they're all here to see you!' Or 'the blokes are all the husbands of the women you've shagged in the last few years, and they've come to meet you!'

Another very famous face to grace the Empire was Tom Jones. Llandudno was on his way to his destination and the Empire Hotel just happened to be classy enough for him to stay. He stayed one night which included dinner, then brandy and cigars in the elegant furnished lounge. Guess who had to serve him the brandy and cigars? A sudden nervous tension developed when it finally sunk in that I would take the tray to him. Being face to face with the famous is nerve racking, believe me! When these chances come up you don't want to fuck it up! I could see it now. Tom Jones on some chat show being asked , 'Tom, what was the most embarassing moment in a hotel?' Well, David, there was this night I stayed at this Welsh hotel when the waiter spilled...' Thankfully, Mr. Jones did not get brandy all over his kegs that night, but I did get an autograph for my father-in-law.

'Your father-in-law? he said with a chuckle. What's his name?'. I'm sure he was wondering why I wasn't getting one, but, sorry, not my scene, man.

Later on in my shift, patrolling the lounge making sure every think was hunky dory, it was great to see him and his entourage chatting with guests.
The following morning I was cleaning the beer pipes when I saw Tom Jones come into the bar area, wearing his leathers, and it appeared that he was thinking of staying for lunch. Then he changed his mind stating that it was too hot. How many times did the staff complain that the heating was up way to high in the hotel? Loads, but Mrs Maddocks would not listen to us minions. It took a superstar to tell her the truth, and she drove him away because of her stuborness. I could not resist a wry smile to myself as I was cleaning behind the bar.

Another memorable night at the Empire was when a couple of Hollywood stars dropped by, in the middle of filming in Conwy. I had been asked to work that night and for once I was glad I did. Patrick Bergin and Theresa Russell were the two famous actors, later joined by young Welsh actors and actresses, who had parts in the film called The Proposition (1997). I seem to recall it had something to with drovers. Patrick Bergin has appeared in many big Hollywood films such as 'Sleeping with the Enemy' and 'Patriot Games'. Theresa Russell recently played Flint Marko, aka The Sandman's wife Emma, in Spiderman 3, but I remember her in a film called 'Insignificance' (1983). It was probably the most enjoyable night I worked there as the banter was great to eavesdrop on. It's amazing really but any local could have come in for a drink that night and enjoyed the company of two Hollywood stars. As I recall I don't think any did, which was a pity. Patrick Bergen was a really a polite gentleman, and recited Irish poems to us all night, and Miss Russell a bit more Hollywoody but not over the top. She liked her white wine, I seem to remember, and bought 2 that night. I had not realised it but by the time she decided to go to her room, she was plastered! This was about 1 o'clock in the morning and I was checking other actors in at the time. While I was at the main desk sorting out the new arrivals, I heard the lift door open and who staggered out was Theresa Russell - unable to find her room!
'Excuse me, young man, but could you PLEASE help me find my room!' she slurred. She must have been up there for about 10 to 15 minutes trying to find her room! So, I took her up in the lift and directed her to her room.

I was at the Empire for about 18 months and to be truthful glad I got out, though the owners did show their appreciation by giving me a £100 leaving bonus and an anniversary dinner on the house with champagne for my wife and I. I was also told that I had kept a good bar, so I knew that I had done a good job there. But there were times... maybe another time!

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