Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another

The Full Monty

Doing the Full Monty is for some the actions of a normal Saturday night out after copious beers, but for me it is something I really never thought I would ever contemplate. Then to do something like that in front of 500 people, who either work with you, or in competitor hotels was definatley not something I ever planned to do. But then hotel life kicks in, peer pressure kicks in and finally a GM says “go for it”, and next thing you know you are in rehearsals and thinking of nothing else for weeks.

In London hotels for many years  there was an annual charity event called the Catering Princess Evening, it was a sort of tacky beauty contest, and to be honest I can never remember if a hotel I worked at ever won, although do remember the bitch-fest over picking our entry each year. But then one year it was decided that it needed a change of emphasis, and something called the CP Float came into the frame. The idea was that each hotel would do a performance and then be judged and a winner awarded. The Cumberland was a competitive bunch and so this was going to be something it had to win. If memory serves me right, the hotel did in the end win 4 out of 5 years. And without question it was the hotels version of Riverdance that was easily our best ever.

But this story is about the year some bright spark decided that we had to go the whole way, raise the bar like no other before, or anyone thereafter, we were to do The Full Monty. It was the film of the year, it had captured the nations imagination and it contained a very obvious dance routine. So 10 staff members were volunteered, and for weeks we practiced and practiced. Other staff were busy putting together our costumes, and as the day got closer the realisation was really adding the pressure. Could we really do this, would we really do this?

The big debate was of course would we do the Full Monty, or just short, panic set in, debates were had, some wondered about pulling out at the last minute, me included. Then a compromise was reached and the silliest little animal thongs were suggested. I still cannot remember what animal I ended up with. But it was game on, we were going to do this and there was no stopping.

The day arrived, the panic arrived, and for me I still had a days work to get through. All day I was in a real state. This was something I really did not want to do. For some I was this loud, confident, cocky individual, and in some ways I was, but this was different. And the idea of stripping off in such a situation was as close to my worst nightmare as I could ever get. I may have been naked in other places, in other situations, but not like this. And when I started to feel like this, I really started to panic. On the coach to the venue I was naturally tripping. I was buzzed to the max, I was flying, I was terrified, and the whole way I was thinking how I could get out of it. I was really wishing that someone else would bottle it and then we could all bail. No one did.

I will never forget when we first arrived, within seconds everyone in the club knew what we were going to do. It created a buzz, a real anticipation and the crowd were just getting more and more hyped. I went to the loo, and threw up. I don’t think I was the only one as someone was in the cubical next to me. Then it was showtime, and weirdly the words of mum came into my mind, “the show must go on”, and that was it, I walked out, joined the others and prepared myself for possible the most unforgettable 4 minutes of my life.

The screams were so loud, the four minutes flew by, the whole thing was some sort of blur, the energy was electric, the screaming just buzzed me even more, I saw faces in the crowd, some I knew, the cheers, the calls to “do it”, everything just dragging me to that moment. At one point I looked along the line, all the boys were smiling, they were all giving it everything, sod knows if the routine was any good, but we were all giving it every drop we had. And we all knew we had our posing pouches to help us keep our dignity. But then we got to the last bit of the routine and I could see the panic start to spread. There was a turn in the routine just before that final moment and as I could see all the lads go into that movement, the moment arrived. I knew I had to really pull on my costume to get it off, and as I fumbled to get a grip, I was in such a panic. One last scream and that was it, I yanked for all I was worth, and it all came off! And for at least six of us, I do mean it all came off, we really had done the Full version of the Full Monty. A quick bow and we were off. The second it was over, the moment we realised just what we had done, where we were, what had happened, for me pure panic set in. I wanted to get out of there.

For a very long time, the vast mix of emotions I had experienced that night played on my mind. Yes it was a real buzz, the energy high was like nothing I had ever experienced before, the good points of it were amazing, however, there were also some bad points and those played on mind for a really long time. I would never do it again, and in some ways wish I had never done it, that Hot Chocolate song will always send a shiver down me, but I did do it. It has to be said that for about three and a half minutes of it, I did really love it, loved the energy, and the camaraderie involved, and above all I loved the fact that I did it, I did not bottle it, but did the Full Monty.   

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© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.