The Best & Worst of Times: You will love it there, she said: Willy Bauer talks to Danny Danziger

I had worked in Geneva and Lausanne, and was getting on extremely well, but I never wanted to be just a little chap somewhere in a little town on the Continent. I realised you needed to speak English if you wanted to get on. And I met a lady who said: 'I know the manager of the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, he will find you a job, and Eastbourne is wonderful.' She assured me: 'Sunny Eastbourne, you would love it there.'

And so eventually a job was sorted out, and I arrived at Heathrow in February. It was absolutely horrific weather, the worst weather I had ever seen.

But I thought, well, it doesn't matter because I'm going to sunny Eastbourne - south of England, south of France, it will be lovely. And I sat on that train for an hour and a half, and I thought, only 20 minutes to go, where's the sun? And I arrived in Eastbourne, and it could not have been worse.

Anyway, I took a taxi to the Grand Hotel, and the porters greeted me and took my luggage to reception, who couldn't find my name on the arrival list. So I gave them my letter of appointment . . . and I then had to take my luggage out myself, and go all the way around the building to the staff entrance.

They had found a room for me in the basement. We went through long, dark, horrible corridors where the works department was situated, past the carpenters' and the plumbers' shops, and there was a little room with a broken window, very cold - the wind was howling inside, and they said, 'That is your room.' It was dreadful, really, and I felt sure there must be rats around.

I was a commis waiter, Hoovering the floors, filling the salts and peppers, cleaning silver and bringing the food from the kitchen, all the real menial jobs. I was paid pounds 3.2s. 6d a week.

But whatever they asked of me I did not mind doing because I wanted to learn the language, and I knew I wasn't going to be a waiter for the rest of my life.

I loved Eastbourne. Everything was so nice and clean, the gardens along the seafront looked fantastic. The Promenade - from the Cumberland Hotel up past the Cavendish and the Grand, and then up to Beachy Head - was fantastic, wonderful.

I had not seen the sea before I came to England. It made a tremendous impression on me, I would watch it for hours.

In those days the Grand was a great five-star hotel. It was enormously busy, 400 or 500 people would come for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it was overwhelming. I was terribly proud to work there.

There was a dinner dance every Saturday night, and people arrived in their big Rolls-Royces, dressed up in dinner jackets and beautiful dresses. You could see a certain class of person at Eastbourne then, and you knew you were dealing with the best.

I was approached by the Cavendish, also a five-star hotel, and they employed me, and I became head wine butler within a month, and my salary went up to pounds 7 a week.

In my spare time I studied English with a retired colonel, until I met the person who managed to achieve more than anyone else - my girlfriend, who became my wife. I became very friendly with her family - except at first her father, who didn't want his daughter going out with a waiter, but he then came round as well.

And I became very fond of them, and, in fact, when my mother died, their home became like my second home.

My mother had been ill long before, she had badly damaged kidneys, and her life was full of pain. I wanted to be there for my mother, and look after her, I wanted to do that, my mother was everything to me. But I fell in love with a woman, and her family was very nice, so I had a family over here.

When I think back now, I can remember the look in my mother's eyes when she took me to the airport in Stuttgart, and I left for England, because I was her favourite son. And I left her, despite the fact I knew she was ill. It's unbelievable how cruel children can be.

I see today I was very selfish to go away.

Willy Bauer, former managing director of the Savoy, is chief executive of the Wentworth Club.

(Photograph omitted)

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links