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

Do I have the time …?


… and more to the point, do I have the both the skills and commitment?

I’m thinking of starting an online community forum!

Early last year, I was looking for the answer to a particular problem I had with a piece of knitting I was working on. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say the pattern I was working with was not too clear. After a couple of Bing/Google searches, I found a web forum Phoenixcalled Phoenix Knitting Forum (so called as it had ‘risen up from the ashes’ of a previous forum), that had the answer. Well it showed me part of the answer and invited me to become a member if I wanted to see it all. I quickly signed up and within a few weeks, I had progressed to being a quite active participant.  It was a great community and I enjoyed the help I received and the bits of advice I was able to offer.

Then, just around the end of February there was suddenly a bit of problem. One of the moderators had said that there had been a few issues with the forum and the administrator was looking into the Not workingpossible causes. Although you could get to the site, users were not able to login. A few days later actually getting to the site failed. I Googled the error code that had been generated in the Opera browser, but it turned out to be just a general error code that gets created when there is a problem accessing a server, so no real help. I had no way of contacting the administrator or any of the moderators outside of the forum as all contact was either through the forum message boards or by a direct message. All this had gone.

I had been a member of the Ravelry knitting and crochet social networking community for some time and I knew they had a “Q&A” section and I soon discovered that the Phoenix Knitting Forum had its area on Ravelry. I signed up and quickly found that one ofRavelry Logo the moderators was the same person on both sites. I had a feeling that things may just start to get better.  However, It’s not the same as a real forum and nowhere as user-friendly as the previous one, but with nothing else and no sign of the Phoenix rising again it was a case of make use of what we’ve got.

Then last week a friend, who I’d not spoken to for a while, asked me about the forum because they were getting an error message. I explained that the forum had gone down at the end of February and it had not recovered. I told them they should use Ravelry as a lot of the forum members were on there too. They then suggested that I should start up a new forum and quantified this by saying that I both the skills and time, just need the commitment. That got me thinking. When it became apparent that the forum was not going to reappear, I was asked if I would or could start a new one. I used the argument at the start of this post … no time, not skilled and no commitment. I hadn’t really taken the time to think it through and I was now wondering how hard could it be.

So I’m now in the early research stages of considering if I could do it. I would of course have to use forum screensone of the many free forum hosting sites. I have identified two such sites, Pro Boards and Create A Forum. There are others, but my initial research has led me to think that one these two maybe the best option. Of course, both are financed by banner ads, but then so was the previous forum so that should not be an issue.

I’m still at the “could I?” stage, but as the time and researching goes on, I’m getting closer to the “yes I could” stage. I would need to find one or two people to be moderators and set up some board names and categories, but that is still way in the future. I am not going to mention this to the group on Ravelry until I completely sure.

 

One more week …


Well only five more 06:30 wake-up alarms! But it has been dragging on and on and on …….. and on and on.

No luck on the part-time job front yet. K*** thinks I need to get something, in her words “That I would like to do …” My take on that is get something I can do, and wait for something I would like to do. And that is the advice from colleagues also. I have to ask myself though, “What would I like to do?” It has to be something I enjoy doing, and from the past few years, there’s not a lot I like doing workwise. I suppose I would prefer to sit in front of a computer rather than a manual job, but needs must outweigh desire. (Note to self: sounds like a good sound bite “Needs Must Outweigh Desire” maybe a story title?)

As I said, work seems to be dragging on and on. Someone else is now working on the project that I’ve been working for the past 18 months. I have been drafted back into the main team (Team! … more about that another time) to help out with general support calls coming in. The problem is, that being not a part of the main team since way before my operation, I do not have the skills that others have developed, and with my imminent departure, it’s not really worth retaining me. I can pick up odd calls that I do know about, but they tend to be very basic tasks, that lower graded staff pick up first. I also think that ‘they’ may be worried that if I’m pushed into new work, I may just go sick! Others have done it before and I have had a days sick this week already. I have a feeling that next week is going to be even slower.

Goodbye to a long year


     By the time you read this, 2012 will nearly be over. It’s a year that has had it’s ups and downs and I’m probably glad to see the back of it. Some the downsides have been quite traumatic: finding out that the job you’ve been doing for the past seven years, will no longer exist; Mrs H finding out she had a Melanoma on her arm; coming home to find the Police in the house after R*** had had a melt down; discovering that there was a plan in place to section R*** if needed and that the ‘plan’ had nearly been invoked twice, must all rank at the top of the downers. Then of course there was the uppers: getting a new job; R*** settling in at his new place; R*** taking to his respite without a problem; S**** getting a great review for his part in the local panto; surviving Christmas (still have New Years Eve) are all up there with good times. I also got a new laptop, and I was not sure if it was an upper or a downer. It was struggle to get it to how i wanted it, but when it was all done, it was brilliant!
     My writing is coming along. It is a slow progress, because I think in my own mind, that I’m not good enough to do it. I will have days when I will just sit at the keyboard, and do not know what to write. Then on other days, I will hammer out a couple of hundred words. But then i read back what I’ve written, and realise that it is nonsense, and I have to start again. I’m currently writing a story that has a troll involved. I’ve got up to 4000 words, but I don’t know where I am going from here, or even if going to take it any further. I may just use this a practice piece whilst I figure out what I really want to write about. I did start writing a blog for a national magazine and wrote a few  posts, about the local area and what was happening, but the stats were very disappointing, with no comments neither good or bad. You do need people to comment. Even if they just tell how bad the piece is, it shows that they have interested enough to read it and offer advice. I gave up after four posts and have not written anything for it since December 2011.
     I have recently taken one of the pieces I have written and turned it into a sketch/play. It still needs some work, but with that one, I know what I need to do. I’ve been reading and bought a couple of books about Creative Writing, and am now beginning to understand where I have to start from, and how to develop ideas. It is going to a long process, but as I have indicated to HR at work, I am interested in taking voluntary early retirement in March 2015, I need to get my skates on, so to speak.
     I suppose, that the last sentence needs a little more explaining. I work for local government, and without going in to the politics of it (especially my views) a number of staff in the 55 – 65 age bracket, have been asked to consider either early retirement (VER) or voluntary severance (VS). As I fall in to that age category, I decided to apply for VER. I have sufficient service to give me that maximum payout, and although the pension will not be full amount, I would only be eligible for a further £2000.00 a year if a I stayed on until I was 66. It has yet to be passed by management, but at my level, I do not think there will be a problem. It will mean a massive change, and I will need to get some kind of part-time job, to help with the finance situation, but I think it will be okay. So you see, if I can get my head around writing and develop the skills I need to write creatively, the boredom factor that people get when they retire should not creep in. Who knows, I may even make a few pounds from the experience.

 

     Well, I think I have blathered on for long enough. All that is left now is to wish you all a  very prosperous and successful new year, and hope that 2013 brings you everything you wish for.