I joined the QE2 as a young man of just 18 years old, having
never left home before. Joining QE2 was the greatest adventure
I think I have ever had in my life so far...
Our days started at 7.00 with a wake up call from our crew
steward. Alot of the time most of us were still hung over from
a night up at the Castaway Bar.
We all started work at 7.30 and the restaurant opened it's doors at 8AM for breakfast.
We worked in teams of two, looking after sixteen passengers between us, so that it always allowed one waiter to be at their station. The Columbia Restaurant was only one sitting and was the largest of the First Class restaurants on board.
After meal service all waiters had an after meal job. This could be anything from a hoover section or having to work afternoon teas every other day (that was my favorite job and was lucky to do it most of the time).
We had a short break between breakfast and lunch. This time was spent either catching up on sleep or hoping to find time to shower and change your waiters jackets, which had to be done on that morning break.
You were back in the restaurant at 12.30 for lunch which went on till 2pm, where again after meal jobs had to be done before you could leave for your afternoon break.
If we were in port we may try and get ashore for a
couple of hours or again you would try and get some
sun up on deck and catch up with some sleep.
We did get some time off as the waiters. We were
split into watches and each watch would have lunch
off as long as we were in port. Days at sea all waiters
had to work.
Our evenings started either having to serve drinks at one
of the many cocktail parties held on the ship or straight
to the restaurant for dinner service.
Having a good partner to work with was so important and I had many over the years as you can see from the photos. (Richard Parsons, Andy James, Paul Cobley, P. J. and Tim Hardy).
You would watch out for each other and they became life long friends in some cases, I still have friends today who I worked with on QE2 and without not having met them on the ship I would have missed out on meeting such special people.
Most evenings were spent in my cabin (for most of my time on the ship this was 402) or in the Castaways Bar. Drinking became a big part of our lives and your cabin mates became your on board family. How I still miss those nights sitting in the cabin with my friends or having a laugh up in the bar.
I think the most important part of my time on QE2 was that I found out who I was. I knew I was gay but was very afraid of what that meant, but as there was some wonderful people who were the same as me on the ship I found out it was okay to be yourself and no one judged you whether they were gay or straight. This could not be said of many places in the 1980s.