Mike is a gifted chef and has cooked for the rich and famous. I taught the poor and infamous. Thanks, Mike for the memories. Your letter, interspersed with the odd comment is below. Part two continues tomorrow.
Well, Mike, this is the start of my contribution to your blog. I’m sorry for the delay but, as with all good ideas, I started with great enthusiasm then life got in the way.
I failed the entrance exam to Mable Fletcher Technical College, which was an achievement in itself as a reasonably intelligent ten year old could have passed it with ease. However, after a phone call by my father to the Careers Officer I was accepted on a six month trial. (A great morale boost)
As with you, Mike, I clearly remember my first day, walking to the bus stop in Widnes, and waiting for the bus to Liverpool. Waiting for the same bus was Alan Dixon who I thought I always thought of as a Rod Stewart look-alike (umm, I don’t see that - sorry Alan) He was a student at Mabel Fletcher and doing the same catering course. He offered me a cigarette, which I felt too embarrassed to refuse, thus starting a habit that was last many years.
College had begun two weeks prior to my starting, allowing the other students to form relationships, but leaving me like a fish out of water. Having been deserted by Alan Dixon, I eventually found the classroom and was already ten minutes late. I knocked and walked in…There was a sudden silence. All eyes were on my red glowing face and I became very conscious of my large ears and the spots that Clearasil had failed to clear.
Mr Byers told me to take a seat at the front of the class (not at the back as I was hoping for ) next to a girl with platinum blond hair. She told me her name was Sheila Pound, and to this day, she remains the prettiest and kindest girl in my life. At the end of the lecture and sensing my obvious discomfort at being left on my own amongst a crowd of strange faces, she made no attempt to leave me, and stayed by my side as we walked to the next lecture, and once again we sat together. (I remember the two of you well and often felt jealous. She was nice - probably still is…somewhere)
Can you remember our first day in the kitchen. We all looked very uncomfortable in our whites and, to crown it all, the tall chefs hat! Mine was balanced on my ears, while yours hung at the back of your head, giving the illusion of speed even when motionless. The thing we made was Tomato Soup, and we were both delighted when it actually tasted like Heinz.
Right, Mike. It is 9pm and I have just poured the first of many large whiskeys. Now do I carry on and slowly sink into gibberish (yes please) or give up while I’m ahead. I must say, I’m very tempted to carry on (drink has that effect on me too.) But I also know there is a good chance that I’ll press the wrong button on the keyboard and lose the lot. This being the case I will continue in pencil….
Tomorrow, bloody duels in the changing rooms!