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 …

A little bit more ranting …


     I’ve just spent the past half hour posting replies to comments on our local online newspaper. I use the term ‘newspaper’ lightly in this case. I have stopped buying and even reading, physical editions of the press. To me it seems a little one way. With a hard copy, or paper copy if you prefer, the only way to have your voice heard is to write to the editor. He or she, then may or may not publish your letter/email when ever they see fit. With the online version, I can post or reply to a comment and it appears almost instantaneously. That is providing it complies within the terms and conditions. This to me, seems to be a far more interactive way of expressing ones feelings. I have to admit though, it can lead to my comments being ridiculed and attacked by some of the other people that contribute to the site. Like many online newspapers, there are a large number of people with right-wing tendencies, that seem to take delight in posting negative political and almost racist comments. I occasionally try and redress the balance.

     Work took an interesting turn on Friday. Our service manager called in at the end of the day, and asked to have a private word with me. The way things are going in the Council at the moment, it made me a little apprehensive. However, and I’m not supposed to say anything yet, she explained that that there might be an opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks and that she wanted me to consider it carefully. Without going into any detail, it is an area that I did not think I have any experience in. I downloaded lots of information, and I may be doing myself down too much. I may just have enough limited knowledge to pass this off. If I get my head down and start reading all this information, who knows what may happen. Just hope I don’t tread on anybody’s toes!!

     The new car is living up to expectations. Now I’ve had it a couple of months, it’s getting more and more difficult to remember the old one. The mileage is better, although I’m not getting the 60mpg that i was led to believe. It’s more 48mpg, which is better than the 42mpg I was getting with the Ford, so it is an improvement, and with the low tax band, I will be saving. It still looks strange to see my car and S****’s car side by side in the car park. Especially as they have consecutive number plates!

     On a completely different track, I’m starting an online course on Monday 25th. I saw an article in the Guardian online, that explained a little about these ‘free’ courses. It is an organisation called Futurelearn and the quote from it’s website says:

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.”

     I’ve signed up for a course about King Richard III. It is not something I know much about, but the discovery of his remains and the recent television drama about The White Queen, stirred my interest somewhat. It is free, so I have nothing to lose, and it may just benefit me should I attempt to go on Mastermind !!!! I’ve also signed up for a course in programming apps for smart phones, but that does not start until February 2014.

     A couple of post’s back, I mentioned a story idea that I had been planning. Well it is now into it’s fourth chapter, and the story will start to take a different direction. I will not say any more, but I may put an excerpt on here sometime. In fact, I have considered posting the whole story as weekly chapters, but I’ve not decided yet.

So now what ….


     Well it’s been over a month since my last post, and I really think I need to put ‘fingers to keyboard’ if you’ll excuse the paraphrase. I suppose my last posting was more of a rant than anything else, but I still cannot get over the price of postage from Hong Kong. I have had another ‘bargain’ from the web. I like writing with a fountain pen. I have a couple of Parker pens, you know, the ones with the arrow pocket clip, but I wanted one that used real ink. I bought one from eBay (not mention the price, but it was cheap) and decided that I wanted blue/black ink. It reminded me of my schooldays. A quick trip at lunchtime to that high street stationers with the common English name, left me lost for words. Well words that can be said in polite company anyway !! A standard bottle of Quink ink (only the best) came in at a staggering £7.98. Even their own brand was only 49p cheaper. I could hear the internet calling me.  I now have a bottle of the said blue/black ink, at the more reasonable price of  £3.97.

     Anyone sick of Comic Relief yet? I don’t have a problem with the idea behind the on going project of Comic Relief. No, the problem I have, is the celebrity hijacking of the concept. The clue is in the title …. Comic !!!! I think it should be, like they keep saying on the TV, ‘Do something funny for money"’, which is a brilliant tagline. So why do we see, every week, on the CR dancing program, a jumped up bunch of kids called One Direction. It appears that these nonentities have done a video,in Africa, where they visit various places, and stand around looking shocked and distraught at the poverty and desolation, before flying back to the UK, probably business class, to earn another £100k peddling their drivel that passes for music. I say, take the money that is spent on that trip, and use that to help the needy in Africa. If the BBC think that the tearful expressions on some  overpaid ‘boy band’ is likely to make me put my hand in my pocket …….

Here endeth the second rant !

    What else has pissed me off ?? Maybe for another day then.

     I would like to revisit, part of the first line of this post “….it’s been over a month since my last post….”. I am sat here, whiskey to the left of my keyboard, thinking, why is this? The conclusion I have come to is one of three things: inspiration, motivation and laziness! I could also add ‘timing’, but that is for another day. Basically, writing wise, I’m lazy. I sit at the computer, every night, from around 10pm and what do I do? I go on Facebook or Twitter. I read online newspapers. I read other peoples blogs. What I should be doing is writing!!! But then the motivation kicks in. “What is the point?” I will say to myself. “Very few people read my stuff!” So with no motivation, any inspiration I may have, get trampled before I start. I recently subscribed to a magazine dedicated to writing. I, even more recently, cancelled that subscription. It did nothing for me. No motivation, no inspiration, nothing. I have to say, my creative spirit is wavering at the moment.

     Now, on a completely different track …… I have started knitting again! I bet that shook you! I have been a knitter for about 45 years. Maybe a little longer. I started, when I became fascinated with knitted baby clothes, and their prices. My mother told me it was ten times cheaper to knit a matinee coat (remember them anyone??) than to buy one. So she showed me how to start and some very very basic stiches, and off I went. About a week later I showed off with a pair of blue, double knit mittens. Granted, they were different sizes, with no way of actually making them stay on baby’s hand (no ribbon to tie them on with, as I did learn how to make a hole until the following week) but still it was a great achievement.

     Since then, I have knitted many baby clothes, a large angora bat-wing jumper, a beautiful cable stitched Shetland cardigan and many more things. And now I have started again. It is all the fault of a new weekly magazine that has two balls of wool on the cover. I’m into magazine 6, but I think it will be the last one. At £4.50 a week it has become too expensive, but it has been good to revitalise an interest, that I was quite good at.

     Well, that’s it for now, but I hope to start blogging a bit more often from now.