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 start of something big


One of the things that was enjoyed during those early years was the local pub. For us in the Main Kitchen, our favourite port of call was The George. ItThe George was quite easy to get to, just a matter of out of the kitchen, through the loading bay, cross the road and we were Town Hall Tavernthere. The staff in the Staff/Private Patients Kitchen tended to head to their nearest pub which was The Town Hall Tavern. Both were Tetley houses which was the only local brewery in those days. It tended to only be weekends and birthdays that staff enjoyed a pint or two in either of these two pubs.

We normally only got a half hour lunchbreak, but often people started early and turned the half hour into a full hour. It wasn’t officially allowed, but we seemed to get away with it and I was a regular partaker. It was on one of these lunchtime forays, that I got to know the ‘new girl’ a bit better. She was called K***, and someone invited her to the pub one Sunday lunch. That ‘someHouseone’ then said they could not go, and totally out of character I said I would like to take her for a drink. We got on quite well, although I thought she was a little posh at the time. Her father was the senior Pharmacist which was a position that was Consultant level. One lunchtime led to another and before long, I plucked up the courage to ask her out in the evening. More evenings out ensued complimented by full days out. I was on a different planet. She was my first proper girlfriend and it was always going to end a certain way. Early November 1978 we were married. We bought a house in Bramley, just off Raynville Road. Life and work was really good.

However, by the middle of 1979 it became obvious that we could not work together in that kitchen. We were always on different shifts. An example would be K*** starting at 6:00am and me starting at 11:45am or the other way around. Days off together seemed impossible as the then manager could not afford to have his two ‘star cooks’ (his words!) off together. We decided to talk the the Catering Happy CooksManager about the issue. As luck would have it, one of the trainees that started with me had left his job in the Staff Kitchen, so there was a vacancy there. The so called interview went my way, possibly because I was the only applicant and I was soon installed in a different job. Days off were beginning to happen and I could often swap shifts so we started and finished around the same time. Everything was back on track.

From then to now … back to the start


I was informed by a phone call from the Catering Manager, that I was to return to the LGI the following Monday. It was as simple as that. I was half expecting it to be honest as the the person I was covering had come back to work. It wasn’t expected as everybody thought that the pressures of the job was too much for him. That was the main reason he had been on long term sickness and the reason I was covering his job. But he had returned and as such I was  surplus to requirement. The worrying thing was that the follow up letter from the Catering Manager, talked about the post I was to take up as being a ‘temporary position at the moment’. That did not sound so good.

At the time, I was not a big fan of the hospitals Trades Unions. The primary two were the National UnionUnion of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Confederation Of Health Service Employees (COSHE). The issue I had was that neither of these would have anything to do with employees under the age of 18. This I thought was unfair as the people most likely to have issues were the youngest of the workforce. However, one of my colleagues, K**** was a good friend of the shop steward. ContractHe mentioned to the steward (called D***) the problems I was facing . He looked closely into my initial contract and found a clause that stated that at the end of my training, I would be found a permanent position within the catering teams. The kicker to this clause was that it never been changed in subsequent contracts and still stood. They had to provide me with a permanent position. I was a bit worried that I would need to join the union, but this never materialised.

This delayed my return by a couple of weeks until I received a letter explaining that there had been “… some confusion … the job was a permanent job, but not necessarily in the same kitchen …” The letter finished with “…please report to the Main Kitchen for 9am on Monday …”

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The kitchen was divided into three sections: the vegetable section; the meat and fish section and my Vegparticular favourite; the pastry section. I was hoping that I would get pastry as it was what I felt was my best area. But there was some new girl in that section. More about her later. No, I got the section I was dreading, the vegetable section. I was not a veggie person, in fact apart from  baked beans and processed peas, I did not eat vegetables. Simply did not like them, and to be given the job of cooking the stuff felt like a little bit of ‘pay-back’ for my unintentional union help.

Hospital vegetables were not cooked the way vegetables are cooked these days. Before the late 1960’s vegetables were always cooked to death and whilst the 1970’s saw new thoughts on cooking, hospital vegetables were still being over cooked. The premise was that poorly people needed soft food. Thankfully, to a greater extent that has changed for the better.

There was a set order for the rotation of vegetables on the main meal. I cannot remember the order, but the list consisted of: carrots, green beans, swede, peas (always on Swede n CarrotFriday with the fish) and cabbage. Occasionally, there were broad beans and very occasionally mashed carrot and swede. The broad beans were always served in a white sauce, but the swede/carrot mash-up only occurred if there was a shortage of one or both of the two vegetables. I love it now but back then I thought it smelled awful, and fully thought it would taste disgusting.

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That first week was terrible and I did consider looking for another job. Staff treated The Goonsme very indifferently at first, but as the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying my role more. The person I worked with shared the same interests as me both in hobbies and music and had a very similar taste in comedy. We were both huge fans of The Goon Show and often talk to each other using a couple of The Goons voices.

I was also getting to know the ‘new girl’ a little better and things were starting to get to a similar stage as they were before I was forced to leave the Maternity hospital. And the ‘new girl’ was beginning to play a very important part in my life.

Clueless !!


So, I was going to take up this challenge that a fellow blogger Mel Cusick-Jones had devised on her blog. It is called “The Sunday Write-up”. Mel provides five words, and you (ie me) have write a blog post and include those five words. It’s a monthly challenge and it seemed simple enough and it would encourage people (ie me) to write something regularly. Just the type of thing that I needed to give me that little push. Well guess what? I forgot! I did joke about forgetting in the vain hope that the joking would serve as a reminder. It didn’t!

But, in the end, it has given me a bit of a push to write. Hence this post.

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Last time, I was a little concerned about going back to work, and any little surprises that may be lying in wait after my “Big Day.” I had planned to go in, thank everyone for the birthday wishes, get embarrassed and then nip out at lunchtime and buy a supply of cakes! I didn’t want any fuss, as I mentioned before, and I did not get any. In fact nobody mentioned it at all! Now I know they knew, or at least my previous line-manager knew, but nobody said a thing. I thought at first, that they were waiting until most of the team were in, but no. Nothing!

“But it’s what you wanted!” I hear you say, and it was, but I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed. So the cakes went by the wayside.

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What else? Not a lot really. I went to the doctors today. K*** has been going on about me going to basically find out if my medication has caused me to put on over 2 ½ stone in weight over the past ten months. That and should I have had a follow-up from the hospital.

Well I knew the answer to the first issue, and the Dr just confirmed it. At the end of the day (and during the day also) I’m just eating too much of the wrong type of food. He did put a different slant on the reason though. He thought, that the increase could be partly due to the fact that my body was functioning better after my operation, and that I was processing and absorbing foods more. You know what? I almost believed that. It wasn’t until a lot later that I realised that he was trying to take the “blame” away. To try and stop me from feeling guilty. As I say, I’m just eating too much, and it has to stop. Instead of reaching for that Kit-Kat, have a banana! Instead of having a banana sandwich for supper, just have the banana. He also mentioned, that often people mistake thirst for hunger. Sometimes when you feel like you want to eat something, you really need to drink something. Well that one was new one on me, but it kind of makes sense.

With regard to the second query, it seems that I should have had a follow-up appointment in February! He was partly surprised that it had been missed, but I suppose these things just happen sometime. A bit philosophical I know, but the way the NHS is at the moment, nothing surprises me.

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What else? I was going to have a rant about “other drivers”, but I think I’ve exhausted that previously. Cyclists were going to come in for a bit of stick again, but they all seem to be behaving themselves at the moment.

So that’s it for this time. We are going away for a couple of nights when R*** goes on respite. Two nights in Cartmell, Cumbria. Should be nice. I think I may have mentioned some time ago, that R*** no longer wants to go away with us. In fact, apart from his fortnightly respite, he does not want to go away with anyone. So every so often, when he goes on respite, K*** and me have a couple of nights away. It’s not ideal as holidays go, but it’s what we have to do at the moment. Who knows what will happen in the future?

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One last thing. I do wish that those who visit this blog, would actually make some comments. I would be disappointed if the comments were all negative, but I get visitors, but no comments. Makes me think, at times, if it is worth the effort.

[Enter post title here…]


As you can see, I’m still struggling to title my blog posts. The problem, I think is that I don’t post about anything specific and I think this also reflects on the number of visits I get. I really must do some research into improving my blog.

Anyway, to business. You may remember a couple of weeks ago, that I had to have an interview with my manager about the length of time I had been off work. Something had flagged on a computer system in HR that meant someone had to ‘check me out’. Well last week, I got a letter from said HR department ‘inviting’ me for an interview about getting back to work. Well that interview was on Thursday. I tried to remain calm about the whole thing, but went ready to let rip if my fears were proved correct.

The meeting could not have been any more different from what I imagined. There was me thinking that they were going to insist on my coming back to work and overriding my GP, but I was wrong. At the end of the meeting, it was explained that felt I could go back to the work I was doing, as soon as my GP said it was okay. They even told me that it would be a phased return and they were going to suggest that I go back on 50% of my normal hours for four weeks. I have worked out a pattern, and my manager is happy with it, so it looks like I will be back at work, in some form from the 1st October.

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I suppose I could have called this post ‘Blind Panic’ after what just happened about 1 hour ago. I will explain. Mrs H likes to have a glass of water by her bedside. I had filled her a glass and had left it on my desk, by the side of my laptop whilst I went to pick up her mobile phone. Her phone sits at the side of my printer. As I reached up to pick the phone up, my sleeve caught the edge of the glass of water and tipped the glass over. That’s when the aforementioned ‘Blind Panic’ set in. There I was with a desk swimming in ½ pint of iced water. As luck would have it, my laptop is raised off the desk on a plastic frame that allows air to flow under the laptop to help with cooling. This frame, which was bought from the £1 Shop also allowed the spilled water to flow under the laptop and not into it. Phew. Never has a £1 been better spent. The USB hard drive seems to be okay, and the only casualty was my multi-port USB adapter which appears to have taken the brunt of the spillage. This is now sitting in the airing cupboard and will remain there for a few days.

I think that about wraps it up for now. Any suggestions on how to improve this blog will be gratefully received.

Life changing day .. plus 1


    Firstly, let me get one thing straight here. This is not going to be a day by day diary of the build up to my operation. It is going to more a recording of events that have a connection to my op.

    This morning I talked to my manager about what happened at the hospital yesterday. I was going to speak to our service leader, but did not get chance, and anyway, I am seeing her on Friday for a one-to-one. So back to my manager. She knew I was at the hospital and the reason. I had explained that I go every six months for an ultrasound and a consultation with the doctor. So the first thing she asked when I walked into the building, was “Is everything ok.” I replied, something like “…well I’m still alive….. I’ll come and have a chat when I get settled in.”

    Got the computer up and running and went through to her office for a talk. I explained what had happened, and she was extremely supportive, wanting to know all the details. After about an hour, I went back to my desk. Five minutes later, she called me through to her office and explained that she had spoken to our service manager about it and she was just as supportive. About an hour later the service manager called by my desk, sat on the corner and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was and she replied that if I was getting too stressed, I could work from home. I said I was fine and she tapped my upper arm and said we would talk later, which was very moving I thought.

    My manager had also mentioned it to the girl, I am supposed to work side by side and she had been very supportive too. I’ve not mentioned it to the two that I “supervise” as one was not here today and I want to tell them both together, so I’ll do that on Thursday. Tomorrow, I have to explain to my old colleague from my former job. I still do certain bit of work for them. Partly because I enjoy it and it keeps me in touch, but the main reason is, that they don’t really have anyone trained in the work. This has to change, and tomorrow is the day it changes. They have no choice now.

Less than a week has passed …..


    So it has only been six days since post ‘500‘ and quite a bit has happened. One of my colleagues worked out the extra cost, for changing offices to £720.00 per year. In his email to the manager, he stated that this was the extra cost ‘….for each of us…‘ which is not quite accurate. For me, even if I worked at the City office every day my driving would be shortened by 70 miles a week. Working from home one day, would reduce it by another 30 miles per week. Taking it all into consideration, including a £15.00 per week parking cost, by extra cost would be £132.00 pa or £3.30 pw. I think I can manage that.

    What annoys me a lot, is the assumption that we all ‘have a problem’ with this new working practice. There are at least two of us that just seem to want to get on with it. It’s not as if we have any choice! We just have to make the best of it. Change affects people differently. At the end of the day, we will still have a job. We may be put out a little, but in the current economic climate in Britain, having a paid job is something to be thankful for. Of course, the Trades Union is involved at a high level, but we also have a local convenor in our office and his views (right or wrong) seem to be getting some attention. I tend not to take any notice of this person, as I think that his attitude sometimes shows that he is still living in the 1970’s.

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    Another problem cropped up with R*** on Friday. We live on the outskirts of Leeds. Our doctors, however is in Tadcaster. This means we receive our health care from North Yorkshire, and although it calls itself the National Health Service, effectively it is a localised service. So the problem is that R*** needs specialist dental care, because of his condition. Many dentists are very wary of treating people with special needs and Autism can be very scary if you are not fully aware of the issues autistic people face. He had to visit the Community Dental Practice on Friday. They examined him, and found his teeth to be doing okay, but then they dropped the bombshell. They told us, that because of recent changes by Government, they were no longer ‘allowed’ to treat him in Leeds as it was out of the catchment area. We would have to find another specialised dentist in North Yorkshire. It seems that there is one in Selby or York. This will have a serious effect with transport on his days at college and will mean whenever he has a dental appointment he would have to miss a day. We are not happy to say the least.

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    On a lighter note, the mini keyboard for tablet came. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, and I’m yet to get it to actually work. The accompanying manual seems to have been converted/translated from the original Japanese and some of the words and phrases do not make much sense. Still I suppose you get what you pay for, as I found out with the cheap 32gb SD memory card, I bought. That does not work at all with the tablet. So ‘cheap and cheerful’ does not always pay off in the long run.