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

Stress Factor – Not X Factor


This of course relates to work. Not exclusively, but in the main, it’s all work related. The latest restructure is beginning to have it’s effect on the team (and I use the term loosely.) Tempers are getting a little frayed and certain people are beginning to jockey for position. For me, it seems that I’m being, shall we say ‘realigned’  workwise. When I was interviewed for the job, there was no mention of it being a supervisory role. However, about four months ago, my line manager advised me that our service manager wanted me to supervise, the two staff below me. It was a bit of a shock, and to be honest, it’s not what I wanted from the job.

Last week, in our so called ‘one-to-one’ meeting I explained to my line manager about my understanding of the job, and not knowing that I was expected to be a supervisor. I was then told that I was being manoeuvred for a higher position in the the new structure. Now considering that the new structure seems to be very fluid, I have no idea what that position could be.

I don’t like supervising people. I’ve done allsorts of training and I still don’t like it. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I appear to have two supervisory methods. My catering method and my office method. The catering method, and it is used extensively in the trade, is to shout and swear very loudly until the job is done. My office method is more of a sweet talking method. The ‘can you do me a favour’ method. Unfortunately, these are not interchangeable.

It is the thought of being a supervisor, that is causing some of the stress. That and having some people having a higher expectation of me than I think I can deliver.

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     You’ve heard of the famous ‘mid life crisis’? Well I always understood that to be around the 45 to 55  years of age. If that’s correct, then I am just beyond the tail end of of that condition. But here is the worrying thing. I have started listening to Radio 1 on the way to work. In the old car, I always listened to Radio Leeds, mainly for the traffic news. In the new car, the radio is completely different, and I’ve not worked out why local radio stations don’t pick up so well. So after a couple of mornings, I pressed the button for the said Radio 1, and I quite enjoyed the music and the banter of the current breakfast show.

     Now you may not think of this as such an issue, and neither did I, until I started purchasing some of the music I heard. This car plays MP3 tracks and has a USB port. All this leads to me buying a 32gb memory stick and copying lots of this newly discovered music. I know listen to Radio 1 in the morning, and the rest of the time, I am belting out tracks from the likes of ‘Example’, ‘Professor Green’, ‘Labyrinth’ and even ‘Jessie J’, When I mention this to people, they just raise their eyes, shake their heads and laugh to themselves. It is a new beginning. I am saved from from the perpetual boredom of local radio. God bless Tinie Tempah. Now,  if you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to a couple of tracks from Wretch32 before bed.

Fancy dress


     Wednesday saw a family birthday meal for S****. To coincide with Halloween, S**** decided that he wanted us to all dress up. His theme was Black! I had no idea what A proper Charlieto wear, until I saw that S**** had a bowler hat. Now, I thought, I only need a black suit and tie (which I had), a cane (which S**** had) and I was sorted.

Now this kind of thing is not something that Mrs H and me do. In fact this was only the second time I have worn any kind of fancy dress at all! The only other time was nearly 40 years ago, when a colleague, R***** decided to have a Tarts ‘N’ Vicars party for his 21st birthday. I was in two minds as to whether I was going to that, but in the end I went as a vicar. I was the only one !!! No not the only vicar !! The only one in fancy dress !! R***** had changed his mind when a few people had said they did not like the idea of wandering around Leeds in costume. In those days, it was not the done thing. He had omitted to let me know.

Catch up time


I’m on holiday this week. We are not going anywhere, I’m just using up the last of my leave. I have my interview tomorrow (Thursday), so fingers crossed. Neither job I’m applying for, covers what I do at the present, but if I get one of the jobs, I think I will be doing a lot of the same work. Well that’s what both my line manager and service manager think. That is what they want, and they somehow are under the impression, that I have some influence over what work I will be doing. I don’t think that will be the case. If I’m successful, I will have a new line manager and new service manager, and it will be those people, that decide what I will be doing.

R*** was a bit of a pain on Sunday. He did not want to go out with D**, his support worker. D** has not been well over the past few weeks and we suppose that R*** has got out of the habit of going. From the moment he awoke, to the moment D** arrived, all we heard was “No out with D**”…”No D**’s house”…”Poor D**”…”No out. R***’s house”. However, he did go, and D** seemed to think he had been okay. Monday, school took the class out for a walk, by the river. R*** decided that it would be a good idea, to throw his headphones into the river. So, £270.00s worth of Bose, noise cancelling headphones, were last seen floating down the river Wharfe, in Boston Spa. I am tempted to think, that it may have been a payback, but then he was out with D** on Tuesday afternoon, and came back as happy as anything. So who knows, what goes on in an Autistic mind.

Mrs Me and S**** are out tonight. They are going to see Calendar Girls at the Grand Theatre, in Leeds. It was not something that I wanted to see, but Mrs Me did, and as it is her birthday, S**** said he would go. Last report, was they were sat outside La Tasca, eating Tapas. I’m having Egg & Chips I think !!! Make of that, what you will.

Bramham Beer Festival (pt2)


   As I said before, It all went quite well. I was there from about 3pm until 4:30pm, and it was very very busy. There seemed to be a lot of money being spent, which was good, and everyone was having a great time. The prices were extremely reasonable at £2.50 for a pint and £1.50 for a half pint. I think that was the only thing that could have been a little wrong. With it being cheaper to buy a pint, rather than two halves, I think many people would have bought pints. As a consequence, they will have either drank far too much, or not had the opportunity to sample more ales. Maybe £1.30 for a half would have been better. Another idea could have been to have 1/3 size glasses at, say 90p a glass, which would have encouraged people to try more different ales. Still just minor points.

   The entertainment !! Well I did not see much of it at all. In the time I was there, there was just one act on, an acoustic singer, who on the whole was quite good for that type of music. The stand-up comedian, who should have been on when I got there, was not on. He was sat in the audience. There had apparently been some issues with the microphones ???? The bands did not seem to have issues !! Again minor points.


   Leeds Utd won again today. For a change, they snatched the win in the last ten minutes of the game. In the past 5 or so previous years, the last 10 minutes of the game is where Leeds usually lose. Things are looking very well for the side. If they keep this up, then they will fly into the Championship League next year. I then predict (but don’t put money on this) that two year in that league, and they will be in with a chance of the Premiership

An odd day …


   It has been one of those days, when nothing has gone wrong, but nothing has happened to make it memorable. It just happened. Of course, the idiots were still idiots, and still did the stupid things that idiots do. It gets me quite angry, when they do stupid things after four/five years. Grrrrrr !!

   It’s the 2nd annual Bramham Beer Fest tomorrow. There are over 20 local real ales on sale, with entertainment and food all day. If last year is anything to go by, it should be a good day. They got about 200 customers last year, and are expecting in excess of 300 this year. Eldest is coming up, and we think he may bring his flatmate, but that changes by the hour. I don’t think either will stop the night, as S**** indicated that he wants to go out in Leeds afterwards.

   The online training course and quiz, at work is turning out to be a disaster. We are moving from Lotus Notes to Outlook 2003 (2003, I ask you) next month, and we all have to go through this so called ‘training course and quiz’. The course is online, and consists of, what looks like a PowerPoint presentation. No interaction, and it is supposed to take 2 hours to get through. Everyone (except the numpties) got bored after about 20 minutes. It is not a good piece of training. Then there is the ‘quiz’. Everyone needs to get 80% on the quiz. There are 10 questions, and they are either single word or multiple choice answers. But there seems to be a problem with the results. My first attempt got me 60%. Second go, and I realised 70%. Third time, and I’m down at 50%. Problem is that the feedback from the quiz, does not tell you which questions you got wrong !!!! So, attempt number 4. This time, I am armed with the ‘official’ training handbook. Every question, and I look the answer up in the manual. Cannot fail. Result …… 70%. See the problem !! Methinks that IT need to do some work on this one.

   The  non-recyclable bins got emptied today. It will have been private contractors that covered the job. I’m not too happy about the use of contractors, but I think the unions have shot themselves in the foot here. The council has to get the best deal, and have been looking at outsourcing for some time. This strike has made them look harder. And I think, the longer it goes on, the more the public support will dwindle. I don’t think they had that much support anyway. A lot of people remember how hard the ‘binmen’ of old used to work. Carrying those steel bins on their shoulders to the bin wagon, and then putting them back in the garden. No wheelie bins in those days. What it will make people aware of, is exactly how much stuff they put in the bins on a regular basis.