• Will

oldest swinger in town

Updated: May 9

December 2013


Photo: I was a good looking seasonaire, this one taken when my nose wasn't bleeding.


I had very good reasons for wanting to become a seasonaire, like having food and a bed (see Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). It took sixteen hours to drive from west of London to Les Arcs in the French Alps. I stumbled off the bus into the blinding high altitude sunlight and the first thing I did was get a nose bleed. What a bloody great start.


Once upon a time a British person could, without restriction, travel, study, work, and live in Europe. I wonder if any of the pro-Brexit geniuses understood that stopping the free movement of people applied to them?


“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

Robert Louis Stevenson.


I think not.


However, in the sunlit days before Britain went all 19th century, I applied online for a dozen opportunities to be a voluntary slave, IKA seasonaire. One opportunity called me for a brief chat and invited me for a three-hour job interview. I was then offered a job as a driver. Well, I say offered a job, it turned out I was offered the chance to participate in a week-long unpaid “training” course. If I was successful, I would be offered a contract. Nope, I forgot, I had to pay them £100 and then they would offer me a contract. Failure to complete the term of the contract you lose your money. A bit like paying a deposit on yourself. Welcome to the world of being a seasonaire.


There is a world of difference between the comfortable world of “going to do something” and the world of “I am doing it”. One is a warm room with a mug of coffee, dreaming and making plans and writing lists. The other is, a 53-year-old in a room full of 21 year-olds with a maturity level of pubescents.


Photo: on account of my maturity (aka age) they gave me a single cell.


I needed this job, and I took the training seriously. However, it quickly became apparent my attitude was not shared by my potential colleagues. There was a fundamental conflict of purpose between two opposing groups. The employer had this crazy notion that employees were there to “work”, bizarre, I know. And my young companions considered work an inconvenience to “having a good time”. I was with the youth on this but needs must.



Photo: my room had an excellent balcony and an incredible view


The training was basically “how to do your job better” and “how to be a good employee”. For example, “all men must keep their hair cut in a “normal style”, with no colouring, and you must never be unshaven”. All good for a pimply-faced teenager who has never had a “proper” job but for a grim bald man with a beard? I sat through it, I needed this job.


My biggest challenge, and my loneliest moments were social time. It was like treading on ice. It was hard not to join in and risk being seen as the oldest swinger in town, or worse, a sad old man or even worse a creep. On the other hand, I didn’t want to appear aloof, I’ve never been a good loof. I can only say thank you to all those young people who welcomed me into their groups. They had no reason to make space for me but they did. They included me in their silliness and I held their hair while they puked. Fair exchange.


I made it through the course, was selected as a driver for St. Anton in Austria. I was so excited I had another nose bleed.


#pilgrim #austria #seasonaire


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