Two recent events have once again made me consider writing confessional style memoirs of my time as a holiday rep in the hedonistic 1990s. (These days that big spoilsport health and safety looms large in most of the very tame holiday rep stories I hear.) For me, the first trigger was stumbling across Cy Flood’s book, Confessions of a Holiday Rep, written in the very same period when I was wearing that hideous nylon uniform and single-handedly throwing whole drunken teams of rugby players off my coach. The second was this summer’s story doing the rounds of the tabloids about the 19 year old woman who allegedly performed sex acts on several men in a Magaluf bar to win a cocktail. Whilst everyone professed to be shocked and horrified, I didn’t blink: when I was repping for the youth market in Tenerife, this kind of drunken debauchery was so commonplace it stopped becoming noteworthy. In fact, some of the things I was required to do myself were pretty flabbergasting, but I’m saving the best, a game called Blind Man’s Muff, for an upcoming article.
Today’s Rebecca is a completely different person from that freshly graduated twentysomething who (almost) lasted three summer seasons and emerged with a rhino-hide skin. Twenty years on I work in the very staid legal profession, rarely drink and like to be in bed by 10.30 pm. I have never worked such long hours in my life as during my holiday rep years, nor gained such an insight into human nature, often at its very lowest ebb. I would say my time as a rep was the best education I received. In Tenerife, I spent a lot of time breaking up fights (now not allowed due to health and safety) and interpreting for guests at the police station and the hospital. In Turkey, Menorca and Lanzarote I had to entertain the guests by singing and dancing at the rep’s cabaret in addition to all the usual duties. However tough my current job gets, I’m not required by the court to sing Big Spender or do a can-can. I once had to accompany a male guest who was wearing nothing but a g-string to the police station after his camera was stolen. He refused to put on any clothes. The police refused to let him into the building in such an indecent state. I also had to ask a couple if they could please stop having wild exhibitionist sex on their hotel balcony every afternoon.
But are these stories actually interesting or funny or, like many confessional memoirs, are they just simply self-indulgent? Did you have to be there at the time? I’ve read quite a few true stories where the writer is obviously writing for their own amusement. Yes, it may have been hilarious at the time when the author was drunkenly scrambling over rocks at 2 am on a Thai beach, but for the reader it is as thrilling as looking at all 1,000 of your colleague’s holiday snaps. Or is it all down to good writing and the way you tell your tales? The jury is still out for me, although what Blind Man’s Muff entailed is so toe-curlingly horrifying that everyone I tell is fascinated.
Since 2009 I have been working on my magnum opus, a fly-on-the-wall novel about what really goes on behind the scenes in the legal profession. So I guess my answer is yes!