Bit of DIY . . .


I’m looking for a couple of pieces of Meccano to fix the back panel on my computer desk. The desk does not come with a back panel, but some time ago I used an old scrap of hardboard, together with a strip of wallpaper to cover the gap where a panel should be. It works, up to a point. The only issue I have is that I need to get behind the panel from time to time. This effectively means that it cannot be a fixed panel and as such, it tends to fall backward and looks untidy.

The solution I have come up with uses a couple of Meccano fishplates, two screws, and two 3mm washers. The plates would be able to swivel a little enabling me to remove the panel whenever needed. I have hundreds of Meccano parts, but they are hidden away in the loft somewhere and could take a few days to find. I’ve looked online and there are pieces to be had, but either the price is prohibitive (one seller wanted £25.00 for two ‘antique’ parts) or the postage is so high. Either way, they are far too expensive for the job. A trip into the loft looks on the cards

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Work tomorrow! When I started this job, my initial intention was to work for a couple of months whilst looking for something a little more sedate. I was thinking I might find a part-time office type job or maybe even work from home typing up letters and things. It soon became obvious that those types of jobs do not exist anymore. The next plan was to continue until I reached state pension age then fully retire. That didn’t happen and the problem with that idea was that I’m used to the extra money. It pays for the few luxury (essential) items such as wine and whiskey that we enjoy 🤣. There is also the worry that K***’s job, like many others is not as secure as it was 18 months ago

Finally . . .


Urban Union Barbers

I finally got my haircut! The last time I had it done was just after the first lock-down in July. I was hoping to go again towards the end of October, but there was some issue and the place was closed on the day I had chosen. Then lock-down 2 reared it’s ugly head and that was it. The place didn’t open over the Christmas week so I had to wait. When they were allowed again, last month, the queues outside (they are only using one chair) were longer than I hoped. I tried a couple of times, but when I was told that the person at the front of the line had been there an hour, and there were 5 people after him, I gave up.

I was wandering past the barbers on Tuesday and saw that the customer was being shown the back of his hair, and there was nobody queuing, I bit the bullet and waited outside. I was in and out in about half an hour, and the look is now much better. For many years I just used to have my hair done with the clippers. Blade 3 on the top and blade 2 back and sides. However, I have grown to like the length and decided to abandon the clippers. Not sure what my colleagues will think, as I have also grown a full beard.

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Pomfretts

Talking of colleagues, my workplace opens up fully again on Monday, so I’m back to work. I’ve not worked since the end of October, so it’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system. To be honest, I could give up on the job. I have my works pension that I claimed when I left the Council under their voluntary redundancy scheme and on the 20th of last month my state pension became available. So I’m not really doing the job for the money, it’s more for the company and to get me out of the house (and my wife’s hair) for a few hours a week. It’s quite a physical job, but I think I should be okay. If not, I always have the option to leave or maybe ask for reduced hours. We shall see how it goes.

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I had my 2nd Astra-Zeneca vaccine on Wednesday. Once again it was so straight forward. Well organised and staffed. The Vaccination Centre is located in a Park & Ride carpark on the outskirts of York. There were marshals every 20 or so yards guiding drivers to their parking slot, checking your details and explaining where to go and what to do when you leave. All the medical staff were friendly and helpful and all very reassuring. My wife is due hers at the end of the month, hopefully nothing will change much before then.

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The Crooked Billet

We actually went out for lunch yesterday. I’m still very wary about mixing with people I don’t know. They say “You go to the supermarket … “, but I can avoid people there, you cannot avoid someone if you are sat down. However, armed with my two does of vaccine, I was persuaded to go. After all, I had to do something to celebrate the first State Pension payment hitting my bank account. It was a nearby pub called The Crooked Billet in the village of Saxton and is famed for it’s Yorkshire puddings .

Fifty years on . . .


After a recent online chat with an old school friend, we both realised that he had forgotten a few things from those last days, and so had I. So, I thought it would be a good idea if I made a written record of some of the things I can still remember.

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From early on in my final year, there were rumblings about students going to university. It is interesting to note, that in year five, we were now students as opposed to being school kids. The previous year saw 20% of the students go on to university and the teachers (yes, they were still teachers and not tutors) were hoping to improve on that percentage. The previous year had twenty students, but my year had only 16. That meant that if the same number of students went on to university, the percentage would rise to 25% which had the teaching staff chomping at the bit, so to speak.

We had some informal discussions with our form teacher regarding what we wanted to do, what we could do and what was expected of us at the end of year five. I had this idea that I would have liked to be a Technical Draughtsman. I was excellent at Technical Drawing and coupled with my math skills, meant I had a good chance of realising that ambition.

In January 1971, the formal career discussions began. I outlined my ‘ambitions’ to my form teacher who also happened to be the Careers Officer for the Education Authority. That discussion, which lasted a mere twenty minutes shattered any dreams I had of becoming a draughtsman. It was explained that I would first need to go to university for two years (pushing the university theme again) followed by a three year course at a technical college, with a two year apprenticeship after that. The very thought of another five years of full-time education, and then earning a pittance as an apprentice was not something I wanted even to consider. I was told to go home that night, have a talk with my parents and come up with some other options. He said I should have a think about the things I liked to do, hobbies and such like. I didn’t think I could become a professional Airfix model maker or eastern European stamp collector, which were my only hobbies at the time.

It was a neighbour that came up with the cooking idea. I did like cooking and was, even though I say it myself, quite good at it. But then again after discussing this with my form teacher it became obvious that it would be a two year full time course at catering college.

At the time my maternal grandmother, who had recently retired from a clerical job, was working for her next door neighbour. The family owned a local Italian restaurant, and my grandmother was washing up three nights a week. For some reason, she had been invited to have a meal with some of her close family as a celebration. I have an idea that the place had been open for five years. Whilst we were eating, the owner was told that I was interested in cooking for a living, but that I wasn’t happy doing a full-time catering course. He said that he could only take on trained Italian chefs but would keep his ears open.

It was then that something, which I still find a little bizarre happened. A fellow diner at the next table apologised that he had overheard the conversation but wanted to offer a suggestion. He explained that his younger brother had wanted to be a cook but had had no luck in finding anywhere suitable. He told us that his brother had then seen an article in the local newspaper advertising a training scheme for cooks at one of the local hospitals. He went on to explain that his brother would be in a working kitchen, earning money but at the same time going to college one day a week to learn how to cook professionally. It sounded like a great idea, and it could be just what I was looking for. Training and getting paid. Best of both worlds. We asked at the local career’s office and they investigated it for us.

Schofields of Leeds

At the beginning of September, I had left school and was working as a porter at a large department store in the centre of Leeds. I received a letter one morning asking me to come for an interview at the Leeds General Infirmary. My Dad went with me, but if I remember correctly all the questions were directed at me. It seemed to go well, and I was quite pleased with how I had handled the interview. A week later, I received another letter asking me to go back for another interview. I was convinced that I hadn’t got the job. But everyone told me that you don’t get a second interview if you haven’t got the job. They were correct. I was asked if I was still interested, to which I seem to remember blurting out “Yes please!”

I was asked to start at the beginning of August and had to explain to my manager at the department store that I was leaving. I was told that I should have given a months’ notice, but as I had only been there eight weeks, a months’ notice would not have been very practical.

And that’s how I started my working life in full.

Not really retirement, but . . .


This post is an attempt at a response to the Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge (fingers crossed I get this right)

Back at the beginning of 2016 our Head of Service, brought our team together for it’s monthly ‘Team Talk’. The theme, if you could call it that, was staff cuts. There had been a lot of hushed chatter among some of the more senior members of the team regarding the reduction of office staff in the department. The Council’s solution was a programme called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. What people liked to think was that it was Early Retirement, but was actually Voluntary Redundancy, with the benefit of being able to draw down the works pension scheme early, albeit slightly reduced.

It was made clear to everyone in the room, that the Department were looking for ‘volunteers’ to take advantage of this. It was also clear that this was a case of ‘jump before you are pushed’. If that had been the case, then it would have been compulsory redundancy, with no arrangement to take the pension early. After a lot of discussion at home, I decided I would go for it.

Not the real cake!

The day came, and it seemed to be just like any other day. I was taking calls and trying to keep my excitement under control. My manager asked what time I wanted to leave, and I had worked out my hours so that I could finish at three pm. At about half past two the office manager appeared with a large cake which was shared with the staff on duty. It was significant that my line manager and the service head weren’t present.

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I decided that I would have a couple of weeks living the life of luxury, then get a part time job. It took a lot longer for something to come up. After about 18 months, my current part-time job suddenly happened. Now furloughed (as at 11/03/2021) I am now just waiting to return. It is not looking god, but I will have to just wait and see. But . . . on the 19th April this year (2021) I will have reached my state pension age and will have to decide the future. Do I carry on with two days a week? Or do I cut down to one day a week? Or . . . do I just stop all together?

First day back …


My last working day was the 16th of March. I got an txt from my boss on the evening of Monday the 23rd of March to say that the cafe was now closed, and that I was to be furloughed until further notice. I wasn’t too worried, as I do the job (only 13 hours over 2 days) more for the interaction rather than the money. I had been ‘retired’ since October 2016 and this job came up in September 2018, and I was more than qualified for it.

My workplace

I was a little concerned when the call came through last week, that they wanted me back. It was only for one day this week. I am now on what is ‘flexible furlough’ which apparently means that I can be called in to work one day and be on furlough the next. My main concern was the safety aspect. The kitchen that I work in is very small and can get a little crowded when the chef, me and one of the waitresses is in there. Social distancing is not possible and because of the heat, the wearing of a face covering is just not feasible.

I got through it. Safely I think, but only time will tell. I have no knowledge of next weeks work, but they do know that I would rather them bring in people that need the money more than I do. The staff for who this job is their main source of income should be the priority at the moment.

I was quite weary when I got home, as I expected, but a warm bath and a cold beer soon had me sorted. Interesting thing though, I’m never hungry after work. I don’t eat much for lunch, usually a sandwich and a few chips, but it’s not a large portion, so I can only assume that it is being around food takes any edge of hunger. Who knows!

From Then to Now … Journeys end


It was an unusual way for me to find a job. I had been on LinkedIn for quite a few years, and it never really had much for me. It was basically just a way of staying in touch with colleagues that didn’t use the ‘normal’ social media platforms. I had entered all the usual details about me, but never used job hunting. Oddly enough, I was scrolling through some of the bizarre jobs that it was deemed I would be interested in, when one came up that seemed to tick all my boxes. It was part-time, local, no responsibilities and paid what was expected for the role. It was advertised as a ‘Kitchen Porter/Assistant’ in a small but popular local cafe, and I could apply by just clicking a button. This apparently sent my ‘CV’ to the employer and just over an hour later, I received a phone call asking me to call in for an informal interview.

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The interview went very well, and to this day, I still think that I was interviewing the owner as I seemed to ask more questions than he asked. He confirmed the hours and rate of pay and then asked if I wanted to see where I would be working. I said it would be a good idea and he took me to the kitchen. He pointed out all the parts of the kitchen and then went into great detail about how to use the dishwasher and what to do if if got blocked. I was then shown the food store and he explained the procedures for dealing with the waste bins. He told me that the cafe was a very busy environment and it would be a very rare occasion if I was needed to work over-time. We agreed that I should have a ‘trial run’ the following Monday and we could take it from there.

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The Monday came and I was introduced to the chef and the table staff and the job started. It was hard and heavy work at times, but all the team were nice to work with and I enjoyed my trial day. It came to light during the course of the day, that two of the waitresses knew my eldest son and had worked with him for a time. By the end of the day I was a little tired, but generally speaking was pleased how the day had gone. I was paid ‘cash-in-hand’ for the day and and was told “See you on Monday then!” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement to which I agreed “Yes. See you on Monday!” I had a job, and when I looked back, I had come full circle. I had been a Kitchen Porter/Assistant in my first job after leaving school and I was back doing more or less the same job.

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I am now furloughed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and if I’m honest with myself I can not see me going back to work there if and when the cafe reopens. It will be simply impossible to have the number of tables that we currently have and less tables means less customers, which in turn means the need for a reduction in staff. The kitchen is not much bigger than the average domestic kitchen, so safe distance working would be difficult. However I may just be proved wrong.

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This brings me to the end of this series of posts. I hope you have enjoyed my journey as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

From Then to Now … Decisions, Decisions


It’s the end of March and things had not got much better. Our usual whole-team meetings were now bi-monthly and there were rumours flying around about possible job losses. The head of our service had called a special meeting as he put it “To discuss certain issues!” He was quite up front from the start. The department had to save £XYZ the next financial year and that there could/would be job cuts. But there was good news too. The Early Leavers Initiative (see this post) that I had been rejected for was now looking at every application with a view to acceptance. The caveat was that it was a time-limited offer and we would have to work fast, because after the offer finished, the early link to the work pension would no longer be available.

My initial reaction was not a very positive one. I took the view that I was too important before, so I was too important now! After my initial thoughts had calmed down a little, I talked it over with my wife and decided that there was no harm in applying again, especially as I was no longer IT ‘king-pin’ that has been before my heart operation. And of course, if I was not happy with the offer I would be getting, I could always refuse it and carry on.

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The offer came through at the end of April and it was about what we were expecting. So after more talk and lot of soul searching, we decided it was the best thing. We decided that I should carry on until the end of October as this would give us more time to make any plans we needed. My idea was that I would take about 6 months off, doing jobs around the house that I had not had time to do, then start to look for some part-time work. I knew that after half a year, I could possibly apply for my old job back in a part-time capacity, but that thought never got off the ground at all.

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So after about 1 year of jobs and taking it easy (sometimes) I started to look for something paid to do. This wasn’t going to be easy. I had applied certain conditions to the job search. I could not work weekends (my wife worked Sundays, and Saturday was our ‘family day’). Evenings were also out as I just didn’t want evening work and I only wanted to work a maximum of 14 hours, over a 2 day period. This did limit the kind of work that was available. I also did not want a managerial/supervisory responsibility which limited it even further. It was nearly another year before I was successful.

You know what !!!


Well my little part-time job in the local cafe has gone. Hopefully just for the time being. It wasn’t the most intellectually challenging work I’ve ever done, ‘Pot Washer/Kitchen Porter/Kitchen Assistant’ but it was a small friendly place that got me out of the house for a couple days a week. I say ‘hopefully’ because you never know what pressures small business owners have in keeping their business open. I suppose one of the dangers is that the owners will just give up, call it a day and that is my worry now. If the shutdown goes on for too long then maybe the staff will think the same. It has crossed my mind. I was aiming to hang my apron up just before by State Pension date in April 2021, but that may have to change.

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K*** has gone off to work and she is not looking forward to it. She works part-time in a large supermarket and has seen first hand the chaos and bitterness this virus has caused. It’s the staff that are getting the blame for the shortages and it can get dangerous in some cases. I can understand a little about ‘panic buying’ and stock piling. When you see someone buying up packs and packs of toilet rolls, you begin to think, maybe I should do the same. But what I don’t get is some of the things people are stockpiling.

I needed to get a few things on Friday and went to a nearby S********s. It was only bread, eggs and a bit of veg that we wanted, but I passed an elderly couple pushing a trolley. There wasn’t much in the trolley, but they were discussing how many bottles of ketchup they needed. As I ‘ear-wigged’ it came to light that they already had two bottles, at home and were a bit disappointed that they were only allowed to buy three. They were actually thinking about coming back later in the day and getting some more. How many bottles of ketchup do anyone need? Crazy! I do think that the rationing most stores are doing, should have been started a month ago though.

From then to now … all change


Within a few weeks, and a lot quicker than I imagined, I was ‘invited’ to attend an interview. It was one of those interviews where you know you have got the job from the very start. The team I was to be Interviewworking in were basically an IT help-desk for part of the councils Environmental Services department. We were the people that ‘sorted’ the problems that Environmental Health officers had with the software they used. ImprovingI found it difficult as a lot of the problems that cropped up were down to errors in the software, rather than user errors. To fix these, I needed to know the programming side of the software. Although I did know some programming techniques, the ones needed were far more complicated. There were five of us, and although I kept my grade, I was back at the bottom of the pile. I have to admit I struggled for the first couple of months, but gradually I began to gain more knowledge and my confidence increased.

Then it all went wrong again!

The departmental heads still had to save money, and so our little IT support team (as we liked to call Helpdesk teamourselves) were to be merged with a much larger team that supported all of the Environmental service areas and also the councils Housing department. We went from being a team of five to be part of a team of over forty. This was a real help-desk job now. Sat in an office with a laptop, smart-phone and a head-set with a whole range of new software to learn. I knew from the start that it was not the job for me. I spent most of the time trying to understand the new work and really not getting very far.

And then the day of my heart operation arrived (see this thread for more) I was going to be off work for three months while I recovered, which was going to be an ideal time to find something I was more at home with. Or so I thought.

From then to now … gets a bit boring !


When I say ‘… a bit boring …’, I mean that nothing really eventful happened. YawnA few new residents zones installed, new staff, new equipment but nothing startling for about six years. The team and me just plodded along. So as I say, when I look back, it was just a bit boring. Still enjoyed the job and most of the staff were easy to work with and I had built up a bit of a reputation, but that was about it.

Then, towards then end of 2012 rumours started appearing about job/staff changes. We had two members of staff leave and they were not replaced and this started to worry a few people. We were told that they would be replaced in the new year, but that we would have to manage until then. Which of course we did.

Around about this time, the Council were beginning to look at reducing staff to cut costs. Central Poundsfunding was being cut and departmental budgets were being squeezed. The Council was promoting what the called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. Essentially what this was voluntary redundancy. Staff would leave, get the standard redundancy payment and gain access to their works pension. I thought about this a lot and K*** and me decided that it might be a good move. Leave the Council and get another job somewhere else with a nice lump sum of money in the bank. So in January 2013, I applied for this ‘ELI’. After a few weeks, I received a reply, explaining that I could not be considered as I was ‘too valuable to the service’.

Later in 2013 me and a colleague (one who I had a bit of an issue with) received an email, quite out of the blue which explained that service was being reviewed and that we were part of that review. I Astoundedqueried this ‘review’ with the Assistant Manager who dismissed it as ‘… just something the Head of Service had to do and that it would not affect us …’ His face was a picture when both me and my colleague, G*** forwarded him the email we had received. He still claimed that it would not be an issue and that he would get someone to explain it all to us.

A couple of weeks later someone from HR did come and explain. What was happening was that some Worriedof the posts throughout the department were being looked at, to try and centralise some of the functions. the example they gave was that G***, who was our Training Officer would probably serve the department better if she worked within the Training team, where there would be vacancies in the future. The same applied to me, and I would be of more use in the departments IT service area. We were assured that we would still have a job, but it was still a very worrying time and made a mockery of the reason I was rejected for ELI. Not so valuable now, I thought.

From then to now … “The Only Way Is Up !”


The daily, weekly and monthly back-ups were a bit of a bind for most people, so as I had taken over the job, my popularity had begun to grow a little. However, this wasn’t to last. The scaling system for what was essentially junior office staff started with S1, then S1/2 then S3 followed by S4, S5 and S6. The S1 level was reserved for staff under the age of 18. These were very few and far between at this time, so most people in the Council were S1/2 or above. I had been there just over a year when the chap on the S3 level decided to leave. He wasn’t getting the promotion he expected and he had decided to go back to the private sector. This left an opening for 7 of us on the S1/2 scale.

I wasn’t going to apply, as I felt that 3 of the others had more experience than me and were probably better suited to the joOffice Deskb. It was one of the two Supervisors that told me to apply for a number of reasons, and it gave me food for thought. Then when the other Supervisor repeated the same reasons why I should apply, I decided to bite the proverbial and I completed the required application form (no CV’s in those days for the lower grades) and handed it in. I wasn’t expecting much, but knew that all internal applications were interviewed, so really I had nothing to lose. The interview went as well as could be expected and afterwards I felt that the manager may have gone a little easy on me. This was due to the comments the other 3 main rivals had made when they thought I was out of earshot. To cut a short story even shorter, I got the job and was due to start the following Monday. This, of course did not go down well with the other internal applicants, and it soon became clear that I was back to square one with, what were now the lower grades.

The main premise of the job was to be the first line answer to written correspondence about a parking ticket. An appeal letter would come in, it would be logged by one of the S1/2’s. They would also create a file for that correspondence, and it would be passed Excess Chargeto me. My job was then to read the letter, make a decision to progress it for payment, progress it higher or cancel the ticket. I would say about 95% of the appeals that came in failed with only 1 or 2 % going to a higher level. All the rest (3%) were cancelled.


TypistThe letter writing was something I had not seen before, although I understand that it was a standard practice. All replies were constructed using pre-written standard paragraphs with some even being standard letters. All I had to do was attach a piece of ‘scrap’ paper, with a series of letters and numbers ie P1, P4, P6 etc. This would then go with the file, to the typing pool who would type up the letter and return it for posting. There were no word-processing in those days. Most of the typists used huge Canon typewriters that had a little memory but nothing like what is in use today.

But I now had a little bit of faith that I could make it in an office situation.

From then to now … yawn …


As I mentioned earlier, my time at Hillside APH was a little boring. The job had no prospects and had little in the way of Yawnchallenges. Compared to the previous 15 years, the work was easy, although some of the staff weren’t. But it paid the bills and we were soon back on the right foot again. So much so, that by December 1988 were discussing the possibility of having a child. Early in February 1989 K**h discovered that she was pregnant.

Work for me was much the same as it had been all along. The only thing that changed was that I had started to get paid for any overtime. There wasn’t much overtime and what little there was was paid as time off in lieu. Basically you worked on your day off and you got that day back at some point. For some reason, and I think it was something that the unions had been working, we were now getting paid at time and a half. So the money was increasing slightly but the work load remained the same. The problem had been (as I was led to believe)  that although the APH was owned an run by the Local Authority, the support or ancillary staff were employed by the APH and paid for out of the establishments budget. As I understood it was the unions that had forced a change, so that the support staff were now employed by the Local Authority and now came under their rules and conditions.

The pregnancy followed its course without too many problems (those are for another time) and at Babythe end of October 1998, S***e our son was born. Work was still the same, but towards the end of December things began to change.

Firstly, the Council ‘Rumour Mill’ began to feed stories into the work place. Again, the word LaundryPrivatisation” was banded about. Some APH’s in other parts of the country had trialled outsourcing some of their support jobs with laundry service seemingly the most popular. Then in January it was announced that the laundry at Hillside was to become privatised. It didn’t seem to have any effect in the early days. The staff stayed the same, they were paid the same and did the same hours. But when one retired, she wasn’t replaced. We now had two people doing the work that three used to do.

Things were starting to have the effect that the unions had been talking about for a couple of years.

From then to now … the battle was over


I got the job! P*m was a little miffed about it at first, but it was soon forgotten and we worked quite well together for most of the time. There wasn’t any real problems although P*m was still getting a little bit of grief from some of the staff. We all thought she could handle it though.

We now move forward to 1986, K**h is one of the Assistant Head Cooks in the patient kitchen and people joked that we Margaret Thatcherwere taking over the place. I forgot to mention that my brother P*****p was also a cook and he was working in the Diet Kitchen. It was about this time, that the rumour machine began it’s evil work.  The rumours were “Privatisation”. The rumours were there before 1986, but it was then that they started to look more real. The Government at the time were looking to save money in what was called that ‘Ancillary Services’. These services were essentially catering, cleaning, laundry and portering services. It was a worrying time for all and people started looking outside of the hospital service for job opportunities. K**h and me weren’t really looking too hard as we had been told by the management team, that managers would come from the service. That turned out to be a lie eventually.

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I mentioned before that K**h’s father was a Senior Pharmacist, but didn’t mention that her mother was a pharmacist too. She often worked in a chemist shop in Knaresborough. The person that owned the pharmacy had a brother, Jo*n that ran a pub in Pudsey. The pub landlord was looking to expand his pub restaurant from a The Old Vicsimple lunchtime  menu to a more extensive short order ‘a’ la carte’ style evening menu. It kind of appealed to us both, as we were now beginning to get more worried about our jobs when it was announced that the laundry service was going out to tender later that year.

The restaurant was only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, and we decided to work a couple of evenings, just to see how it would go. We did about four or five evenings and realised that we could not do both jobs. Simply too tiring. Finally we ‘bit the bullet’ and  decided to take it on full time. We both handed our notice in at the hospital, much to the surprise of everyone, and two weeks later were the full time cooks (or chefs as we were now known) at the Old Vic in Pudsey.

Things were on the up … or so we thought!

From then to now … onwards and upwards


The early 1980’s saw a few major changes in the kitchen where I was now working. The Kitchen Manager (or Kitchen Superintendent to give him his official title) retired. In the past, the job would have gone to the then Head Cook. There would have been the usual interviews, but he would have got the job. This time it was different. This time, he claimed that he had no interest, but the rumour had it, that he had been ‘advised’ that he was too old.

We had at the time, three Assistant Head Cooks; A**n, S***e and D**e, and to everyone’s surprise, A**n got the top job. This caused a lot of upset in the kitchen as although he was a capable cook, he was not a good manager. He had very few people skills and was basically not really liked. Within 6 months, the other two Assistant Heads (A**n was not replaced) were looking for other positions.

It was around this time that the local bus company, which was still in the public sector, announced a recruitment campaign. Partly as a response to the increase in passengers after the energy crises of the 1970’s, Leeds City Transport decided they needed new drivers. As a result, D**e applied to be a driver and was successful. S***e on the other hand found a job at sea, as a cook.

After a few months, A**n suddenly announced that he had another job and was leaving. Because he still had his four weeks annual leave, he left that same day, taking his leave as notice. Nobody knew why he suddenly left, although there were a few rumours that he had been fired, but none of them were ever proven. But it was time to panic.

The Catering Manager was now looking for two Assistant Heads and a Kitchen Super. It was expected that I would apply for the Assistant Head and of course I did and after a rather difficult interview (the original Catering Manager that hired me had now left and the new one had a different approach) I got the job. For a short while, it was just me and the Head Cook who still was refusing to apply for the Super’s job. After about three/four weeks, the Catering Manager informed the whole kitchen, that a new Assistant Head and a new Kitchen Super had been found and they both would be starting the following Monday. We were to make them welcome as they had never worked in a Hospital kitchen before!

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 …

All went well …


The staff party went as well as could be expected, even the short time I was there. I think subconsciously I knew that it would and I also knew that there would be no problem with R***. He was the excuse I used to get out of going for the full evening. I know it’s wrong of me to use the possibility of him having a ‘melt-down’ to get out of something, but it was the only thing I had. The problem is, that I’m not a fan of social get-togethers. They just don’t have any appeal these days. It must be an age thing because when I was in my early 20’s you would not have been able to stop me. Anyway it seems that they were glad I went and wished I had stopped longer.

They are a great team to work with and I enjoy their company. Pomfret'sThis job is just what I wanted from a part-time job. The hours could not be better. The location is ideal and the wage, well I don’t expect any more for what I do. Its quite a physical job, but for two days of 6 and a half hours, I seem to be coping. They made me extremely welcome for the first day, and usually that kind welcome doesn’t continue more than a couple of weeks, but I still feel the same as I felt the first day, which can’t be bad.

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First one done …


The first ‘official week’ of my new part-time job is over and done. After the trial day, it was very much as I expected it to be. It’s fairly physical and quite hot especially at the peak time of the day between 12:00 and 14:00. I did end the day with a bit of a sweat-rash (in a place that I have no intention of mentioning) and my legs do feel a bit tired today. It is understandable, I’ve not done a standing job for over 25 years!

I don’t think I made any mistakes and everyone seems to be quite pleased with me. Unfortunately, I did forget to turn off the water heater when I went home yesterday. The boss did say that it did not matter too much, but I was a bit annoyed with myself at forgetting. I think I’ll make a list on my phone of the jobs I need to do at the end of the day. See if that helps.

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Talking of phones, I’m getting a new one tomorrow. It’s bought and paid for and I just need to pick it up from the local Tesco in the afternoon. K*** bought a new iPhone as her old one just was not working properly. I just kept cutting out whenever she used it and the reception on it wasn’t the best. I like the phone I have. It was the phone I wanted when it came out and was top of the range at the time. However that time was about 4 years ago and the poor thing is starting to show it’s age. Apps don’t open properly and there is very little space to work with on the phone itself. So I’ve opted for a “Moto G6 Play Gold” which is a bit of a mouthful I know. Seems to have all the features I want, although I may have to order a new sim card from ‘3’ before I can use it.

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First day done …


Monday was the first day of my new part-time job. As it turned out, it was just a trial day and I think I did okay as the owner said see you next Monday, as I left. He had also told me about how and when I would get paid and what documents I needed to bring next week. Funny thing is though, he is still advertising the post in the café window. I believe he had another person trialling yesterday, so I will see what happens over the next few days.

The job was very much as I expected it to be. Basically washing crockery and a few pans. It seemed busy at lunchtime, but everyone said it had been a quiet day so I’m expecting it to be much busier next week. At the end of the day (and I hate this phrase) the job ‘is what it is’. Bit of pocket money, and to keep me more active.

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I think I got the job …


Well, I’m having a ‘trial’ day on the 10th and the words were “…to see how you cope, then we’ll go from there…” When I asked about a start date if successful, he told me that I’ll “…just carry on…” and finished with “…we’ll both know after a couple of weeks…” We shook hands and I left feeling both slightly bemused and pleasantly proud.

It was the strangest interview I have ever been in. He first asked why I wanted the particular job, which I explained that the hours, type of work and location were what I had been looking for. He then went on to explain aboutDishwasher the place, its history and what he was wanting to do in the future. I then got a ‘tour’ of the kitchen, which was tiny, followed by a demonstration of how to use the dishwasher and an explanation of how hot it gets. He asked me if I had any questions, and that was it. No references, no reflection time, no “I’ll get back to you when I’ve seen the others” type of phrase, just “ See you on the 10th!” So the 10th it is. To be honest, apart from the size of the kitchen (two chefs, one porter and a waitress or two could get a bit cosy!), I don’t see I’m going to have too much of a problem, but time will tell.

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Cats! Or more specifically, what cats like to leave in our garden. Three times this week K*** has had the unenviable task of removing cat mess from the flower bed at the front of the house. It seems that there are three cats in the close neighbourhood and I think I have narrowed it down to just one of them. It usually happens at night or early morning and the smell can be very offensive. We’ve put down coffee grinds which is supposed to deter them, but a slight shower and the effectiveness appears to wear off.

What I fail to grasp is why are cats any different to dogs when it comes to fouling? Most dog owners control their pets when they are outside, but cat owners seems to have a different attitude. Most of them just open their doors and let the animal out without any control whatsoever. The cat then can go wherever it wants and do whatever it wants. It seems wrong to me.

There’s a crossing of fingers …


I’ve got a job interview today! No-one is more gobsmacked than me. It’s the hours I was looking for, the days I wanted (no weekends) and the area could not be better. The job is “Kitchen Porter” at a café in Wetherby called PomfretsPomfrets. It is a highly renowned establishment and get excellent reviews on-line. Now I know some people will say that going on my experience and qualifications, I am over qualified for that type of job, but to me that doesn’t matter. I’m looking for a job that will give a bit of ‘pocket money’ for a few hours a week. I don’t want a career path, and am not looking for promotions, just a job that I can do without the pressures of trying to prove I can do better. I’ve been there and done that, and I don’t want to go back to that type of work. It’s come up at just the right time really. The end of October sees the 2nd anniversary of my early retirement/voluntary redundancy. I did hope at the time, that I would have a job within 6 months, but the jobs that came through the recruitment sites all had either too many hours, had weekend work or the location was too far. As I say, this one ticks all the boxes. Fingers crossed

Seems a lot longer …


Well, it’s been 18 months now since I took the plunge and ‘volunteered’ for early retirement, or as it turned out to be voluntary redundancy. It does seem a lot longer since I was driving into the City centre multi-storey car park. To be honest, it has not really gone according to the vague plan I had formulated, in my head during the few months leading up to my last day. I had sort of thought that I could:

  1. take it easy for the first two months
  2. get a part-time job, between 10 and 16 hours a week
  3. get a bit of decorating done
  4. ditto in the garden
  5. take over most of the washing and ironing (I weirdly like ironing)

None have really materialised with the exception of number 5. Okay, I did paint the staircase, and I have done a bit(?) in the garden. But that’s about it. I’m still looking for a part-time job, but K*** seems to think that I have made my options in that area, too narrow. I don’t want too many hours and I want it local.

I thought I would get bored very quickly, but that has not happened. I thought that we would not be able to live on the pension I was getting. Altering where we shop for most our groceries has eased that pressure. So basically, at the moment we seem to be okay.

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The latest Windows update became available for me yesterday. About 2pm I checked and it was available. So I began the update process. It finally finished at around 7:30pm. This is the reason I did not post this at Fthe time I wanted. I’ve had a quick look, and the only thing that seems to be a ‘new’ feature is that I now have a nearly full “F:\drive” that wasn’t there before. As I understand, and I may be wrong, but this new drive is the location for the recovery data. I think it used to be in a folder, but it seems that Microsoft now wants it in a separate partition. This is fine if there is sufficient space. I believe Aaaaghthat this partition will mysteriously be removed in 10 days, which is a little unnerving. With working in an IT support team before I retired, I tend to read up on the major updates to see what ‘exciting new features’ I am about to receive. I only half-heartedly did it this time, but I think that will change for next time. The problem is, that since Microsoft decided to move towards Windows being provided as a service, there is no choice but to update when they tell you.

I am now updating my other laptop. It’s been going 1 hour and seems to be proceeding faster than the previous time. Wish me luck.

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Update to Windows update:- The second laptop only took just under 4 hours to run, so a slight improvement there. The issue with the new “F:\drive” has been resolved. I trawled the internet with no luck, then had this brain-wave … ask the Windows community. Within minutes, literally less than 5 minutes it was solved and the drive is no longer visible. It was a Recovery drive, but it should not have been visible. If anyone has got the same issue, I am going to post the answer as a separate post. 

Finally over …


This, of course, refers to our new bathroom. The fitters finished at around 1pm on Friday, but there was an issue with the lighting. They just couldn’t get it to work. The issue started on Thursday morning when they had fitted the ‘over the sink’ cupboard clip_image001which has two LED strip lights to light it up. No matter what the guys clip_image002did, there was no lighting. One of them called the electrician that they use, who couldn’t come straight away, but promised to come early that afternoon. He didn’t turn up. Next time we had was Friday morning which quickly changed to Friday afternoon. We needed him to be away before R*** came home at 5pm. The guy turned up at around 5:30, which was too late if he needed to turn off the main power supply. So it was arranged for him to come on the following Monday, just after 9am, which he did. Took about an hour, and when he finished he explained that one of the cupboard lights was not working. He had informed the company we were buying the bathroom off and they advised that they would be ordering a new one. That was fitted yesterday. K*** is very pleased with the outcome and we both think they have done a good job. It was not cheap by any means, but it is 1000 times better than it was before.

I do think the company is missing a trick though. I would have taken some photos before the job was started and more when it was finished. I would have then asked for permission to upload them to the company website, as a ‘Before & After’ type of self-advertisement. Could even have a few shots (not many though) of the fitters doing the job.

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I thought I had found the perfect part-time job for myself yesterday. I don’t want (or need at the moment) a job with many hours. This one would have only been 7 hours, on a Friday doing mainly admin work on the reception desk at a local school. Slightly fewer hours than I was looking for, but it would have been something.

Now, the issue here was that when I took early retirement, there were some conditions laid down. The main one was that I could not work for the Council, either paid or voluntary for 12 months from my final working date. This was because it wasn’t actually retirement in its usual capacity. How it worked was that I was taking voluntary redundancy (VR) and that the Council had arranged with the Local Government Pension scheme, that I could take my pension and lump sum early. As the closing date for this job is the 9th October, I would be in breach of the VR terms by applying before the 1st November.

A little disappointing, but it’s been the first time I have seen anything, that I know I could do with the hours that would suit. I just have to hope that they re-advertise the job again. It sometimes happens.

It seems so much longer …


Strange post title some may think, but today it is three months since I retired from working life. Not a long time, but like the title says “Seems so much longer …” Of course, my initial plan has gone out of the window. My intention was to have a part-time job before Christmas. Nothing too much. Somewhere around 16 hours, just to give me a bit of pocket/petrol money. At the moment, it is not needed and to be honest, there does not seem to have been anything in the offering that I feel I would have enjoyed. However, now that Christmas is over, maybe the type of work I would want to do will start to resurface.

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With work in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I contacted my old boss. My security access card was still sitting in the glove compartment of my car. It was my intention to call in at my old office, just before Christmas (possibly on the day when they had their Christmas fuddle!) and hand my card in then. It never happened. Or more to the point, I never made it happen. I bottled out, I’m afraid to say. There are many reasons for this, but at the moment I want to keep them private.

So, I contacted my old boss to explain and to ask for her address to send the card back. I did the usual and ask how things were going on etc etc. It took a couple of weeks, but she replied today. The email was brief, but had a lot of information, and I felt enough confidence to email a couple of other colleagues to ask how they were.

It is unfortunate that I only have their work email as I feel it takes some of the personal aspect out of it. Still, I hope that they get back to me, as at the moment, I still want/need to keep in contact.

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Yet again, on the subject of blogging I was asked “What is you blog about?” And, yet again I get the same puzzled look when I reply that it is just about ‘What I want to write about, when I want to write it!’ I don’t have a theme, it’s just general ‘rants & raves’ with a slight emphasis on the ranting aspect.

It has given me food for thought though. Maybe, just maybe I could add a paragraph or two about my hobbies! As I say, food for thought.

A new year … new beginnings? Perhaps …


So, all those promises I made to myself about getting a part-time job within two months, turned out to be just bluff and bluster. Well …not really. I have been looking, but maybe not as hard as I could. At the moment, things are working out quite well and there is no urgency for me to supplement the pension I’m getting. Of course, that could all change. As R*** starts to increase his respite stays, income we get for him may (will) start to decrease and that’s when our financial situation will alter. But that’s in the future.

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Yet again, one of this years New Year Resolutions has been broken. I shall go into a little more detail here, if I may. K*** had wanted to watch the Robbie Williams new year show (I didn’t) and in the spirit of compromise, I gave in. My opinion …total rubbish … sexist and egotistical does not describe what we watched. Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, we watched the London fireworks (fireworks on the TV don’t really work for me) and then K*** went to bed. I quickly changed channels to watch Jools Holland and his, now famous ‘Hootenanny Show’. Where is this taking us, I hear someone ask? Well, it was during a performance of Tilted by Christine And The Queens that I once again resolved to ‘post everyday‘ which I quickly modified to every two days. As the date of this post shows, that was a fail! It is now modified to ‘post more often‘, but even that may yet be modified.

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Now here’s a question for you. What do you use to write your blog posts? I know I’ve asked this before, but that was before I started with Windows 10. The reason I ask (again) is that I tried today to use the desktop WordPress app. It started okay, and I was able to write and my work was saved as a draft. But then the program crashed … repeatedly. It crashed so many times, that it became unusable in my opinion. So I’m back using the faithful Open Live Writer which works without any problems. Just wondering if anyone who uses the Windows 10 WordPress app have had similar problems.

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Wait a minute! Where does the “new beginnings” part of the title come in? I just thought it was a good sound bite!

1st day down …


Well, not technically true. Technically, today is my last day and tomorrow will be the “1st” day. I didn’t want to go into work for one day, so I managed to save up some time and take a ‘flexi’ day. But to all intents and purposes, today was the first day of my retirement! Now, how old does that make me feel?

Didn’t do much really. Went to the bank, did a bit of shopping, washed my car … oh and had my hair cut. Haircut? For nearly a year now, I’ve been growing my hair longer. In fact, I’ve not had it cut for about nine months. It all started, around November time last year. Our ‘team’ were on one of our ‘away-days’ or it may have been a training day. At lunch time I had gone out and  when I returned, I received a text message, just before I entered the training room. As I was expecting the text, I stopped to read it. I then over heard someone joking about the length of my hair and then everything went quite when it went in. Now I don’t care if people take about me behind my back and I don’t  mind if they laugh at me. What I hate is when they do it and then try and pretend that they didn’t. Which was what happened in this case. So I made the random decision to grow my hair long. My intention was to just let it grow and grow to make them feel bad or guilty . However when I put in for early retirement, I decided that my long hair would go when I finished. Hence, todays haircut.

So all in all, the first (or pre-retirement) day went well and now I must et down to the task of finding and getting that part time job. I need to get one soon, before I get out of the work habit. The next few weeks are critical in that search I think.