Here we go . . .


I’ve been wondering when it would start. I kept checking the update and security page but nothing showed. Then this morning around about 11:00am, I noticed that my laptop was very slow. Files were taking minutes rather than seconds to move. Opening documents was even slower. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware had found it’s way in. I tried to look at Task Manager to see what was running in the background, but that didn’t seem to want to open. It soon became obvious that I had a serious issue. I opened the settings and then saw it. The Windows Update icon was showing that it “… needed attention …” It could only mean one thing. I had run the regular, what Microsoft calls ‘Cumulative update’ only yesterday and Windows Defender updated at the same time. It must be a system update. Of course when I opened the Update page, there it was … I was being updated to version 20H2 which is the current latest version for my machine.

I literally groaned. This was the update that took over 11 hours to run, on my other machine. The system told me that it was at 46% downloaded, which considering that I only just noticed the problem gave me the notion that it may be quicker this time. At time of writing (14:40) we are now at 89% installed, which seems to be going quite well 🤞.

I hate updates! It’s all the uncertainty that surrounds an update … will it work … will it be slower or faster … will it break the machine? Although, what worries me more, is when will it happen to my youngest son’s machine. His autism would not let him understand why is machine is slow, and why it keeps shutting down and restarting. They have an IT team at his care home, but I’m not sure how they will cope, if one of his care team shut’s his laptop down while it is updating.

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It’s my birthday next week, and it’s one of the ‘biggies’. Yes, on Tuesday I will be an officially, state registered ‘old bugger’. Birthdays and the related age number doesn’t usually bother me. I never feel any different and it’s another day for me. However others seem to think that I need to celebrate! No, I don’t! Somebody once said to me “What am I celebrating? That I have managed to get this far or that I’m just one year nearer the grave.” I don’t quite think along those lines, but I do wonder what the point is. However, I am duty bound to at least try and enjoy the day and I will put a brave face on (hopefully).

We are apparently going out for a meal at a pub/restaurant close to where the eldest son lives. We have been before, but it’s a long time ago. Will have been about 30/35 years ago. I don’t remember much about the place and I probably still won’t when I get there. I have had look at the menus, and I’m not sure. They seem to be these ‘trendy’ menus that have things like ‘Grilled Squash’ and ‘Halloumi chips with sriracha yogurt’. There is the obligatory ‘Vegan’ burger and there is something that they call ‘Shepherdess pie’ which is made with lentils and curried parsnips! It’s going to a long day I think.

Not sure if I enjoyed it …


Hyundai – York

It was that time of year again, when my car needed a service and it’s MOT. We have been using the same garage since we bought the cars. Minstergate at York was the dealership that we bought both my car and my sons car. They have treated us well over the years and it’s a place we have some trust in. What we tend to do, is to drop both cars off in the morning, then get the ‘Park & Ride’ bus into York for the day. It is something we have done now for 7 years.

Both cars were dropped off at 10:00 and we set off for the 15 minute walk to the ‘Park & Ride’. The company used to give us a lift to the ‘P&R’ but with the virus, that has stopped for the time being. But it was dry and there was a footpath so not an unpleasant short walk. The only hindrance was the occasional cyclist who didn’t seem to care when they passed pedestrians.

The journey into York was okay. People were wearing their face coverings and keeping apart, except for the obvious family groups. We got off the bus and began to wander around the city. The idea was that we would look in a few shops, the go for lunch (we had booked a table at Ask Italian) then look at a few more shops before heading back the the garage.

This is where I began to feel a little uncomfortable!

The shops were mostly fine. Limiting the number of customers when busy, with people keeping their distance. I say ‘mostly’, it was the children that were the problem. They just didn’t seem to care where they walked. Of course there was the odd customer or two that did not seem to grasp how to wear a face covering. But you get them everywhere. The restaurant was good. Table numbers were limited and well spaced. They were all sanitised when a customer left and they seemed to have got the place as pretty well as safe as they could.

Ask Italian – The Grand Assembly Rooms – York

No, the place I felt most uncomfortable was in the streets. The whole idea of ‘social distancing‘ seemed to alien to most people. People would pass you very closely or walk up behind. One person got so close that I could almost feel his breathe on the back of my neck. I could actually hear the person he was talking to on his mobile phone. It was not a nice experience. Although, the place I expected to be the worst, was realistically the safest part of the city centre. That was the outside market. Almost everyone was doing what they should do. Again it was children that seemed to be the issue.

So not the best visit to York I have had. Here’s hoping the next time will be better!

From then to now … end of the dream …


After the initial ‘first night’ nerves we began to think that we were going to make something of ourselves.  Lunchtime service was working well and we were getting a slight increase in numbers. But it was Menuthe evenings that were starting to show. Wednesday was usually the poorest night, but then again nobody seemed to go out on a Wednesday and Saturday was the busiest. Numbers were increasing by the week up to a point where it was necessary to book for a Saturday night. The biggest issue was the menu. It was far too extensive. As I remember there was about ten different cuts of meat to be served from the grill. Each of these had a choice of at least three different sauces or garnishes. For example beef steaks: there was rump, sirloin, fillet and T bone. Then there was lamb chop, Barnsley chop, lamb loin and lamb fillet. There was also chicken, ham, pork chop and pork fillet. All this made for a hard time for the grill chef (me) and the pass chef (K**h). It got so difficult that the owner hired an assistant to work Friday and Saturday.

The numbers were quite steady and we had a stream of regulars and then disaster struck. Disaster World cup 1986in the form of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The final was on Sunday the 29th June, but the two/three weeks before gave us lots of problems. Have the games were played at 12:00 local time, which meant 6pm here in the UK. We first noticed that things were not as they should be was on the Wednesday to Friday of the third week before the final. There some popular games being played on those nights and were suffered with the number of covers. Saturday picked up, and we thought we would be okay.

The owner said that it would be fine if they big names played later in the day, but on Wednesday the 18th, England played and the numbers dropped dramatically. The following Wednesday saw the first of the semi’s. Again the restaurant suffered. But the biggest hit came on the Saturday the 28th. Although England had done the usual and had gone out the previous week, Saturday was a big day. It was the day that third and fourth place would be decided. By Friday night, the No Bookingsdiary should no bookings at all for Saturday. By 3pm on Saturday we still had no bookings and the owner was considering not opening. We did stay open but did not sell a single meal. As this was the days before big screens in pubs, even the bar was deserted. Bookings were down on the Sunday too, even though the final was later in the day.

We did not see the owner on either Monday or Tuesday, but Wednesday evening he called a meeting. His wife was with him, and they both had a very serious face. the owner announced that he had been with the accountant over the past couple of days trying to work things out. The bombshell was, that the restaurant was losing money and was being supported by takings in the bar, which as he said could not go on. He had checked the bookings for the Friday and Saturday and had decided that he would close the restaurant on the Friday night. Nothing anybody could say would change his mind.

We worked as normal as we could those last few days, but it was a depressing time for all. ClosedThe news had got out, and we had a few cancellations on both the Thursday and Friday. Friday night came and neither of the waitresses turned up and as we only had two tables of four booked, the owner decided to close after those tables had left. 

It was the end of the dream. Fame and fortune was not coming our way and it was a pretty hard time for K**h and me.

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 …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