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.

As near as vegetarian as I get …..


I am a carnivore! I enjoy eating meat! And fish! I have no conscience with regard to meat or fish, so I’ll get that out of the way first. Also to put to bed is that I have no issue with anyone who doesn’t eat meat. For whatever reason. I’m not a particular fan of vegetables as a food choice. Saying that, there are some vegetables that I   really do enjoy. I like broccoli. I don’t mean that tasteless woody Calabrese that is seen by the basket load in supermarkets all over Britain. No I’m talking about real broccoli. The purple sprouting type that actually has some real flavour. I’m also a fan of Swede, but not Turnip and there are many people that do not know the difference.

My original idea for this post (before I got into the broccoli v calabrese thing) was to explain that I can have food that does not have meat in any form. This delightful looking dish was a Leek & Mushroom risotto. We had some chestnut mushrooms and a stick of leak left over from last week that needed using up. Actually, if the truth were known, they should have been used up before the weekend. Mrs H had spotted them on Thursday, with the ubiquitous ‘best before’ date of Saturday 14th. Too good to miss and too good to let go to waste. We all know what happens to food that exceeds at least one of its dates and if any of our food is going to go to waste, then it will go to waste in our hot composter. I did not have a recipe for the risotto, so it was an amalgamation of three or four different dishes. Unfortunately, I forgot (sieve-head that I am) to make a note of what I used and how I did it. But never mind, it was really enjoyable.

 

All’s well (I think)


The first day in the new job went quite well. I say that from my perspective, I have no idea what anyone else thought. I got treated to lunch, which was nice. I do have to talk about this though. When I was transfering some of my stuff on Friday, I was asked if I liked curry. I said I did, and two of the people I’m working with (B***n and R**i) suggested that we go for a curry lunch on Tuesday (yesterday). This sounded too good to be true, and I was well up for it. Back at the old office, D*** was trying to work out where there was a curry house nearby, and was struggling.

So the big day arrives, and I settle in nicely. everyone is very welcoming and any apprehension I had was starting to fade a little. I was given the ‘grand tour’ and the essential places )kitchen and toilets) were pointed out. Lunchtime came and we went off in B***ns car. On the way, he explained, that the place we were going to was a local community centre, Hamara, that served healthy food to the neighbourhood. Hmmm I thought to myself, doesn’t sound like what I had expected. We arrived, and went into what they call the cafe. We got an extremely friendly welcome as we moved towards to serving hatch. “Three mixed” said B***n and he pulled out some money to pay. He told me that he would pay for my first curry. Well, I have never seen anything like it !!! It was a large plate, covered with a fried rice (to the depth of about one inch !!) topped with a Keema type of meat curry, a chickpea curry and a potato curry. This was then topped with mixed salad and an absolute gorgeous yoghurt dressing/riata. Very nice you may be thinking, and it was. The problem, was the amount ! It was a vast plate of food !!! It would have fed me, K**h and S***e, without any problems. I think I managed about one third before I gave in.Ii just could not eat that amount of food on a lunch time. Cost ???? £3.50 per plateful. You cannot even get a good sandwich for that price. I had a very small meal at dinner time that night, I can tell you.

Today was a transition meeting for R**s. It was supposed to be a meeting to sort out the finer points of his care package at the college. We are looking to send him to a day placement college, with an eventual view to him being in ‘shared care’. However, the college dropped a bit of a bombshell today, when they told us that they were no longer doing day placements on the main site. They kind of explained that they had had to have a restructure due to staffing, and they were only offering full residential care. this is not some thing we wanted at this time. However, they could offer the same type of placement at their other site. We did not know what to say. A bit displeased that they had not told us before the meeting, as they had known for a couple of weeks what was happening. Still their other site looks like it could offer a similar care package. We are going to have another look at the place in a week or two, but I think we have no choice. There is nothing else suitable locally, and this company was always the best option. Just not this site. Some stressful times ahead.