From then to now … more of the same


The big day arrived and the so called ‘newsome twosome’ started. I have no idea who came up with the name ‘newsome twosome’ but it did seem to fit. The fears we had, with neither ever working in a hospital kitchen Teamwere soon discredited. It turned out that C***s had been the Head Cook at an army barracks and P*m had worked for 10 years as a cook in the Royal Air Force. Both seemed to have good skills and soon blended in with the rest of the kitchen. C***s was appointed as the Kitchen Superintendent and always seemed quite easy going. P*m got the Assistant Head job and so became my so called ‘running mate’. She was not as laid back as C***s and this caused a few tensions among some of the staff. You will know the type, criticising everything that she did, but they didn’t have the courage to apply for the job themselves. However, we were now a team again.

Everything plodded along quite uneventfully for a couple of years. A few initiatives came and went, but I began to notice Splitthat whenever opportunities arose, I appeared to be the preferred choice.  A prime example was when management decided to update and change the menus in the staff dining room. All the kitchen staff were asked to come up with ideas, even the Porters and Kitchen Assistants were included. But when the ideas were pooled, it was C***s and me that were invited to take the discussions further. P*m and the Head Cook were side-lined a little. C***s and I tried to include them but we both felt at least one had taken her ‘bat home’  and was a bit more negative than the other. The Head Cook seemed to just be along for the ride. Never offering advice or criticism and his ‘safety phrase’ was “That sounds nice!”

The new menus were decided on and things seemed to be getting back to normal. Then the next bombshell hit.

The Head Cook announced that he was going to retire. We knew it was coming, but he had never Fightdivulged his actual age or the date of his birthday so we didn’t really know when. He had not taken any of his leave so he used his three weeks holiday entitlement as the bulk of his notice. He had asked the Catering Manager not to tell anyone until he had started his leave, as he didn’t want any fuss. C***s knew, but both P*m and me found out on his last day. After the initial shock, both of us realised that the battle to succeed him was on. Although initially it was a good natured battle, the days leading up to the interview day got a little fraught and tempers spilled over sometimes.

From then to now …the training years


There were three trainees started in 1971. The previous year there was only one, so the money the department had saved could be used the following year. Those were the ‘good old days’ of the Health Service. For some reason, I started on the 23rd of August, with the other two (A****w and D***d)starting the following week. It caused a bit of friction with A****w when he realised what had happened. That year the August Bank Holiday was Monday the 30th and Tuesday the 31st. Me starting the previous week meant I was paid for the two days holiday. A****w and D***d started on the 1st September and as such were only paid from the 1st giving them only three days pay that first week. He never let me forget it either.

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One of the main selling points for the job at the hospital was that college Old Catering College would be ‘Day-Release’. this meant that one day a week I would go to the local catering college to learn my trade. The college was based just outside the city centre and was named after the first Lord Mayor of Leeds, Thomas Danby. There were other parts of the college dotted around Leeds but the first one I went to was on Whitehall Road. It is now a part of Leeds city Council, but that may and probably will change in the future as cuts may force the sale of the building.

College was a strange beast, throughout the four years. I would say 95% of the students in each tutor group of the college, were from either hotels or restaurants with majority being from some of the larger hotels in the region. This led to a great deal of snobbery from both the students and to some extent, Industrial Catering Boilermany of the tutors. Students from the ‘industrial’ side of catering were looked down upon as not proper chefs. We would all learn how to create a basic white sauce in a 1 pint pan and then I would go back to work and have to create 40 litres of the sauce using an industrial sized steam boiling pan.  This was something the other chefs could not even imagine, let alone know how to use. We were like the second class citizen of the catering world and this went on throughout the four years of training. But we just got on with it.

One lad, D***y had the problem really bad. He worked in Birkbecks, which was a café in the Leeds Market. The type of food they sold was typical of cafes Birkbecksof the time. Boiled ham sandwiches, bacon sandwiches full breakfasts, sausage and mash, pie and peas, although never fish and chips. It was the food that, at the time was what market traders and customers wanted.  It was good filling food and nothing fancy. He had a none too flattering name for the restaurant and hotel cooks … he called them “Lardys” because he thought them to be a bit “Lardy bloody da!” The name stuck with me for years.

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In the hotels, the trainees would move around the different cooking sections from time to time. One point they would be in the bakery or sweet section, then later they may moveLGI to the starter section and then maybe onto the fish section. The same happened in the hospital, but whilst I was training, we tended to move to different hospitals to learn the different skills. Leeds had two large main hospitals, St James and the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI). I worked at the LGI. But the wider Leeds had many other smaller hospitals, where we would learn the different aspects and diets associated hospital catering. All have gone now, but during my 4 years training, I spent time in most of them.

There was Cookridge Hospital which was a major centre for radiotherapy along side the IDA hospital. I spent 2 weeks at one of them learning about the diets for patients with cancer. There was the Leeds Womens Hospital which only admitted women patients.  The Leeds Maternity Hospital was the place I finished up in after my training. It had High Roydsgreat staff and a family atmosphere that the other places didn’t have. Another place I worked in, during those first four years was a hospital for people with mental health issues. High Royds or Menston Hospital, as it was sometimes known, was a secure hospital for the most severely affected patients. What could I learn here you may ask? Well this was the place I learned my butchery skills of all things. Most of the smaller hospitals did not have butchery section, so the meats were prepared at High Royds butchery for them. I was there for six weeks and had one of the best times.

At the end of the training, we were allocated to one of the the three kitchens in the hospital. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that year there was only two vacancies. I was shipped off to the Leeds Maternity Hospital to cover a staff member who was on long-term sick. I spent a very happy 12/13 months there before being forced back to the LGI where a vacancy had become available.

Next time: back to the LGI

From then to now … the journey begins


So, I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to become a chef. How was I going to achieve this this dream? It Despair-Manlooked like I may have to back the Careers Advice Centre (CAC) and see what they had to offer. My parents put it around their friends that I was wanting to cook for a living and asked them to have a look out for me. I booked an appointment at the CAC but wasn’t really looking forward to it and eventually didn’t go.

I decided to see if any of the teachers could offer some advice. I drew a blank with most of them, but then that certain geography teacher said he would try and find a few things out, if that’s what I wanted to do. After a few days, he came up with a list of options that ranged from a full-time college course to an apprenticeship and even joining one of the armed forces. None of these appealed at all.

It’s now the beginning of May 1971 and we are all 16 years old. The school is now wanting us to leave so they can free up teachers time. The six or seven of us that are still Newspaperleft are simply reading the local papers in search of a job. Then someone, I cannot remember who suggests I might want to have a look at hospital catering as an option. It was the one thing that I had not even thought of. My parents looked into it and somehow managed to get me an interview. I was a bit concerned about having an interview and my father went with me. I think him going with me may have been one of the reasons I got the job. A trainee cook, due to start in August. Their advice was that I should find a temporary job in a kitchen somewhere, doing anything that was needed. To ‘… gain experience of kitchen life …’ they said.

After the interview, we met up with my mum and she thought it would be a nice idea to go and have some tea or coffee to celebrate. Now I thought we would be going to oScholfieldsne of the cafés in Leeds Market, but no mum said we should ‘do it in style’ or words to that effect. The best place in those days was a department store called Schofields. They had an a ’la carte restaurant and a café and we went to the cafe. It was whilst we were there, that someone noticed a small sign advertising a kitchen porter job. We found out who to ask, and I was interviewed the same day. I’ll never know whether it was because I looked the part, or the fact that I was going into the catering industry, but I got that job too.

The actual job title was “Cake Boy” and for the morning entailed me pushing and pulling a huge wooden trolley full of wooden trays (no plastic in those days) of cakes fromCake tray the bakery on the top floor to both restaurant and café. In the afternoon, I worked washing up on a huge dishwasher. It had a conveyer system which was a continual loop. The trays of crockery were loaded as the conveyer belt Conveyormoved along. They went in the machine at one end and came out the other. The image is the closest I could get to the one I used, but you need to imagine the conveyor coming right across the front. The trick was to make sure that you unloaded the clean crockery before the tray got to the place where they would be loaded up again. It didn’t always go to plan and sometimes a double wash would happen.

I was there for ten weeks, before my ‘real’ job started, but I was on the first step of a long catering ladder, and on my way up.

To be continued …

Can only get better … can’t it?


Bit of a sh*t start to 2019. My wife’s mother died of pneumonia in hospital last night. She had been poorly for a while and went into hospital on Boxing Day. It had been fully expected to happen for a few days, but you are never prepared for the emotions that hit you when it finally does.

I just telephoned my mother to break the news and it was really hard, especially as she is not well either. In fact they were both in the same hospital at the same time, just on different floors of the same wing.

That’s all I can say really.

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On a better note, the eldest son and his partner are having a baby. It will be June sometime when it’s due, and its a weird thought. I’m going to be a grand-dad. We never thought it would happen as his previous, just wasn’t interested and it would never be possible with our youngest. With people with his level of Autism, it just isn’t a thing that happens. So I’m going to be “Grumpy Gramps”, which I kind of like.

An interesting weekend …


In fact, a very interesting weekend. So interesting for us, that I feel it is worth posting about. As I mentioned earlier, K*** has had a problem with her eyes and this has led to her spending much of the weekend trying to rest. She threw a sickie today as she didn’t think she would be able to cope at work, and it was probably a good idea. She is still in pain and and is still seeing the ‘floaters’ at the side of her head. She is going to ring the hospital tomorrow to find out if this is normal. She tells me that it seems to be improving, but only slightly and we don’t appear to have a time frame for improvement.

Now comes the interesting bit! R*** has been a real help. We rarely get a weekend where we do not have an issue with him. The usual issues range from a shouting episode to a full blooded melt-down and we always have a least one issue each day. But not this weekend. There has been nothing. He has been laughing, smiling, singing and generally having a good time. Of course there has been the odd time when he has been a little ‘grabby’ and squeezed my arm, but that has been when I’ve done, or attempted to do, something he did not want to do. And, the squeezing has been a kind of warning squeeze rather than the usual forceful type.

We have come to the conclusion, that he is somehow aware that his mum is not well and this has had some kind of ‘compliance’ effect on him. It maybe that he is just in a good mood, and that nothing has upset him this weekend, but it does seem very unusual, albeit in a good way.

He is on respite tomorrow and will be back on Friday and we will have to see how that goes. It is usually ‘okayish’ and there doesn’t seem to be too many issues, but it will be interesting to see if this current mood continues.

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That’s all for now. Just a little update that I had to share.

A little bit pear shaped …


Last week, K*** suddenly noticed that she could see ‘floaters’ out the side of one eye. She had just started a new prescription for her contact lenses and thought at first it was that. But it got worse and she was experiencing a bad headache. Called the optician on Friday, who told her to come straight away. They sent her to the eye-clinic at the hospital, and it seems that the gel that surrounds the eye had become damaged, causing a bleeds at the back of her eye. They told that it should just clear up in the next few days, but she has to go back in a fortnight for check. Now, it would have hard anyway, but we had invited K***’s parents for lunch that day and we couldn’t really put them off. So I was ‘entertainments officer’ for the day. K*** thought she would be home by half past one, but it was nearer five when she got back.

To top it all, whilst I was out on Monday, I think the wind got into my eye, as that has been sore since then. Feels swollen and is a little uncomfortable when I blink, but not to the same extent as K*** has suffered.

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My laptop has started to play-up a little. It’s seems to have been happening since the last major update to Windows, but I think it is just a coincidence. What is happening is that my Wi-Fi connection dropping out. Does not happen to any of the other devices we have connected though which kind of proves it is not the router. My other Windows 10 machine does not have the issue (although I don’t had it powered up as much) which may be another pointer away from the issue being down to Windows update. I did Google the issue, which led to a lot of possible reasons. The main reason seemed to point to an issue with the network card in the laptop. I’m awaiting a reply from the manufacturer as to what can be done, but I’m of the opinion, that I may have to live with it. I can connect directly with an ethernet cable and it’s not too inconvenient, but I will see what happens.

The issues with K***s emails reoccurred again yesterday, just over a month since the last time. The mail app on her iPad stopped  delivering any emails. They could be viewed on the website but were not being ‘pushed’ the the mail app. I could not get them on my laptop, which was the same as the last time. Turns out, that it was an issue with Yahoo (Sky email provider) which was exactly the same as last time. No-one at Sky or Yahoo seems to care about it. Both say they are sorry and are working on a fix. Maybe it’s time for Sky to have a rethink!

(Update: emails on her tablet are now coming through. some 24 hours after the issue started. Not good)

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Well both K*** and R*** are still in bed, and I think I’ll let them sleep longer. R*** has been a star over the past two days. I don’t know, but he seems to kind of know when K*** is not well and it tempers his behaviour for want of a better word. We have has no issues with him at all, not even when my laptop dropped the Wi-Fi.

I’m just going to start on the ironing , which shouldn’t take too long. I actually love ironing and have sort of ‘adopted’ the job as my own, which suits us both. Someone once told me that we all have some minor Autistic tendencies, and I think ironing must be one of mine.

 

Recycling and other things …


I’m not a fanatical recycler, but if it can be recycled, then I like to try. However, I’m in a bit of a quandary! My local authority actively encourages residents to recycle, but cannot handle shredded paper and they advise to put this in the non-recyclable waste bin. As I understand it, shredded paper clogs up the sorting machines. However, financial and security institutions advise that all documents that have personal information should be shredded. So here is my dilemma. Do I follow security advice and shred or follow the local authority advice and put it, un-shredded in the recycle and hope that nobody reads it? I have decided to follow the security advice!

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It’s been a long  week. K***s mother went into hospital for a hip replacement last week. It seems to have been successful, but it is going to be a long process to get her back to anything like what she was this time last year. She is quite confused and has been in a lot of distress over the past couple of months. Anyway, she is out now, at home and gradually improving. K*** and her sister are doing their best to help their father cope with his wife’s condition, but it is difficult for various reasons. So I’ve not seen much of her over the past seven days.

It is probably a blessing that R*** has been on respite since Monday, although he has had an infected finger which caused his respite team a few problems. We think that is sorted now, fingers crossed.

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S****, my eldest and A**** his partner are having a bit of a bad time. Whilst he was away from his computer at work, somebody (he knows who) posted, what some could call an offensive message on his Facebook time line as a joke. I believe this called ‘Fraping’. All in good fun and taken as such by nearly everyone who knows him. The exception being A****’s mother. She thinks that S**** posted the message and does not believe anything else. This has caused a massive argument and neither of them will have anything to do with the mother. Hopefully it will blow over, but the mother is one of those people that is never wrong. Of course this has caused a lot of stress for both A**** and S**** and it has also upset K*** at this difficult time.

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Me? Well I’ve just plodded on as best I can!