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Article: Experiences on my to be last Denholm Managed Ship

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    Jun 2008
    Blue Mountains NSW
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    Experiences on my to be last Denholm Managed Ship

    0 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 1st December 2019 08:29 PM
    Posted on behalf of Spencer With Thanks

    Experiences on my to be last Denholm Managed Ship.
    TheMerchant Navy was already on the decline and Denholms were staring to sell Ships.
    After a four Month leave at Home after leaving the Loch Maree, I was waiting for the joining instructions for my next ship.

    FourMonths at Home on full pay, gets to be quite boring, on previous longleaves I had tried different types of Agency work, Take on anything,not for the money but for the experience, I had been an expediter,Box Fitter, even working on farms, but all interesting and some timesa good laugh.

    After being made redundant from Denholms, and having received my Cheque,one week later I was employed by a Sister Company of Denholms “DenMac” also working on 0ne month on one month off, After the Conflict in the Falklands was over, our contract to save the MOD money, was four months on and Four months off, After the first 4 months of twiddling my thumbs at home. My next leave I had a couple of weeks holiday then went looking for some Jobs.

    One of My long leaves, I had discussed with Sylvia the possibility of Managing a Pub, so I wrote to a couple of Breweries and had some interviews, but too long in the time for selection also having to post a Bond.
    Then in our local paper we saw a Club Steward with Wife required for a large snooker hall in Harlow, that would be for a Manager and wife,so we applied, went for an interview and the following day called back for another interview, we were told we had the job depending on a security check.
    Later we found out that another six couples had applied and were interviewed, it turned out that they all had one or the other ,criminal convictions!!!

    We took the job, not big money, but we had a Company discount Card,which meant that basically all our food was paid for, after a three month trial we would also have a % of the Income. This was a big Club approx. 2000 members and a waiting list of persons who wanted to join.

    So Came the day for Sylvia and myself to start, a Monday!! We started in the morning a couple of the trustees, came to show us what our scope of work was, opening times, closing times etc, We had a bar staff and a cleaning staff. If I remember correctly we opened at 11am until 2.30 pm then closed ,opened at 6pm and closed at 11pm, that was the Bar.
    Snooker rooms were open weekdays same time as the Bar. On Saturday and Sundays the snooker rooms were open all day, but Bar closed normal times.
    I had a big office with a massive cash safe, which had a weird wheel combination locking device, which at time was temperamental.
    We cooked our own food for bar snacks and Sylvia learnt how to “Pull Pints’ as normally a shy person, she soon got the knack, only problem we both had was being able to remember the prices in the head and add up as you went along giving a verbal final total, which we then rang into the tills.

    Weekdays and nights we could handle, but our baptism of Fire came on the first Sunday Lunch time. 12 O’clock opening, we had shutters across the front of the bar, at 12, all we could see was a mass of faces, soon as the shutters came down, a growling noise of men shouting the reorders, with a full staff on and Sylvia and myself (8 persons), we worked solid for two hours just serving drinks even at the last bell they were still three deep at the bar shout their last orders., once we closed, we had to wait another hours to clear the customers out,clean all the tables, get the glasses washed, clean the toilets, lockup then home for lunch to be back at 6.30 to open for 7.
    I remember we went home had a meal and looked at each other shell shocked, we agreed we would give it another week and see if we liked it.
    One week later we did the same, looked at each other and said NO, on the Monday I Gave the committee a week’s notice, I was asked why we made the decision to leave, they offered us a better employment package. But sorry NO, it is not for us. So after one more week and a final Sunday Lunch Mad house we left.

    I was proud of Sylvia as she supported me and to see her work behind a bar was amazing it was an experience for me and a eye opener for Sylvia.

    This has just jolted my memory.
    I had another long four month leave after an extended trip on the loch Maree, again I was at home getting bored, reading our local paper and saw a advert for a Catering Manger for Airline Catering at Stansted Airport, sent off my CV and received a phone call for an Interview at their head office in Southend.
    Meet the Director who was a very smart lady, she was interested in my ability to cook, so I was invited to work for a week in their Southend Kitchens, cooking airline meals for SABENA and MARESKAirlines, which ran a service from Southend to some place in Belgiumand Denmark.
    Only problem I had was the portions, My idea of laying out a plate was too big, anyway got used to small size portions and uniformity of layouts.
    Turned out that ACCS had a contract with Air UK, which was part of KLM.
    I was given the job of looking after Stansted and all Air UK flight meals out the there, I had to learn and pass an Apron driving test,which allowed me to drive out to the planes, which was hair raising at times.
    Get to know the Senior Cabin stewardesses, who could be as sweet as pie or real Bitches.

    One of the biggest challenges was the Breakfast scrambled eggs. The mixture had to be cooked to a pale yellow, but not fully cooked as these were packed in foil trays ready to go into the On Board ovens,if cooked to much they would come out of the oven, slightly burnt,took me and our cooks a couple of weeks to get this right.
    Soon the planes return Trip, I would get a written warning from the Senior Stewardess, saying that Scrambled eggs were burnt.

    I learnt a lot in a short time, Air line catering is a whole new world,different flights have a different tray layout and menu.
    All laid out to an exact specification, Photographed and posted on or kitchen production line. I had to check each one to make sure it was exact.
    Morning flights were the Breakfasts, Mid morning flights would be, sandwich snack and a cake or biscuits, Lunch time flights would be Sandwiches and Cheese/Cracker pack. Lunch time International flights had hot meals. Afternoon flights was again, Sandwiches and Cakes,International evening flights was a hot meal.

    Ihad to manage all the disposables, making 100% sure we had a good stock, All disposables were supplied by Air UK, Sometimes when another Kitchen ran out or were waiting for disposables, I would send them by plane.

    During my first month, I was invited to Leeds/Bradford airport one of our other kitchens, we had to make a new Demonstration and tasting for a New Menu. Don’t need a car or a train, just hop on the plane, If no seats you could sit in the Pilots “Jump seat” spare seat in the cockpit, I never did find out why it was called a jump seat.

    ACCS had kitchens in Southend, Stansted, Leeds/Bradford, Edinburgh,I.O.Man and Bristol. So quite a big set up.
    We also did the occasional Private VIP Charters, these planes were something else, white leather seats etc.

    I had a staff working for me of 22 persons in the kitchen and two drivers, The drivers job was to meet the planes and load the Air line boxes, to position the lorry to the entrance, without putting a hole in the side of the , Each lorry had Hydraulic stabilizing legs, with a scissor lift.
    Oneof my jobs was to ensure that regular maintenance was carried out and recorded, having all air line requirements.
    Having regular inspections from Air Uk Catering management, making sure that each flight had two separated meals for the pilots, even though most of our flights were short haul, retaining food samples for 48 hours,maintain recorded temp controls, a lot of work goes into the plasticfood trays you get on your flights.

    During my short spell at Stansted, I had one hectic day when Gatwick was closed due to Fog, a lot of aircraft were diverted to Stansted!!!
    Somy phone was red hot with other companies asking me for services, notso easy at it sounds, I only have enough disposables for Private jets, all the rest was Air Uk, so first I have to get permission from our office to carry out the service, terms of payment, then permission from Air Uk, to use their disposables, all in a matter of 30 minutes. That is before we can start Production, followed by calling in all of our staff for the extra work.
    I think I stayed at the kitchen until 3 in the morning, but I did receive a nice bonus as did all the staff.

    All the time I am thinking is this for me, salary was ok, but not as good as being at sea, also hardly any time off.
    After two months it came to a head, when I turned down a Private VIP request for catering. Actually it was a Sunday, in those days Sundays were normally quiet, so I was at home, when our cook called me to say a request had been made for 12 VIP meals at short notice, they wanted Usual Hors dourves then Roast beef , Yorkshire pudding and vegetables, with deserts.
    So I said sorry NO, not enough notice given. Finish end of story, so I thought.
    Two days later I was invited to the office to see the Director.
    She was straight to the point, why did I turn down the VIP request, I replied, not sufficient Notice and we did not have the products to produce what they wanted.
    Not good enough!!!!
    She asked how many Hotels were close to the Airport, I named some, so she said why did you not order the requested food from a hotel, then lay it out on our Airline trays.
    Did’nt think of that I said, not a happy lady, Talk of a written warning,which was Ok with, me I still have another four weeks of paid leave left, so I politely told her no Problem, I resign now!
    Sort of surprised her, she asked me to work for another week until she could get a replacement.
    During my last week, I had a phone call from Air Uk Distrct Manager asking me to reconsider, if not would I like to work for him.
    I was even more surprised when Two of My Prized BITCHES Head stewardesses, also came to my office and asked me not to go.
    Such is life, but I was already missing the smell of the Sea. So worked out my time, showed the new Manager the Stansted Job, handed him the Car keys (The job came with a Company Car) and left.

    Later when I worked out of Aberdeen, I used to fly Air Uk to Aberdeen, via Leeds / Bradford and met a couple of the old stewardess, Always had a good flight, and never had to ask for a drink, they used to give me a bread basket full of Miniatures, discretely covered by a linen napkin, so I had some perks even after leaving.

    Also my Southend experience, got me flight home when no seats or planes available.
    BAF British Air Ferries are stationed at Southend Airport, I was coming home from Aberdeen to Stansted, no seats!!!
    I saw the BAF air crew in the terminal, asked if I could get flight with them, I had an open return ticket with Air Uk, but no seats!!No problem, Captain took my tickets saw his agent, then a quick walk across the apron an onto their plane, an old Brittania, four engine.Just two pilots three stewardess and me, just cost me a taxi fare from Southend to home , about 15 pounds if I remember.

    Sot hat was two of my jobs I tried on My extended leaves, I had one more job one time when I came home from the Falklands, Which was hilarious.

    Again I was home with nearly five months leave.
    Looking through the local paper for jobs, I came across “wild Oat Pickers’required, suitable for students etc, 1 pound and hour!
    I phoned the number and was given the instruction of how to find the farm, about 20 minutes from where I Lived, not sure what to expect I made myself a couple of Sandwiches and took some bottles of Coke.

    Turned up at the Farm, about 20 women , I boy and myself.
    Farmer took us to his field and explained what we had to do, it was a big field of Barley nearly ready for cutting, when you looked across the Barley you could see tall strands of Oats coming through, Farmer explained that when the dealers came to buy the crop having wild oats showing would reduce the value of the crop, so we had to from a line and walk down the field pulling out all the wild oats.
    We were given half an hour for a drink in the morning and same again mid afternoon, one and a half hours for lunch. Not bad for a days work in the summer sun and fresh air.

    After the first day, not all the students came back.
    I was taken in tow by four women who worked all the farms, from wild oats, Potatoes, cabbages etc, quite a bunch who lived close to me, so I took them home and picked them up in the morning.
    Once we cleared the first field , we had to move to one of his other fields, This one had a village pub close to the road, So I took the 4 girls to the pub, we had a good laugh then back to work, The girls were not used to drinking, and were rolling about and laughing,telling dirty stories, I felt like I was on a ship again.

    Next day only three girls came one was at home ill, so down to the pub,they loved it as I was buying the beer, why not I was still on full seagoing wages. Back to the field don’t forget barley was nearly shoulder high, walking down the field this girl pulls me down on the ground, rolled an top of me a started to kiss me, WOW, not to offend the girl I let her take control and after 45 minutes we both slowly raised ourselves up, much to the laughs of the other two, (students did’nt know what was happening).

    So of my 1 pound and hour it cost me more for my petrol and lunch time drinks than what I earned in a day, but it was a great job, the job finished when we ran out of Oats! And I ran out of Steam. Can’t trust these innocent country girls, still brings a smile to my face.

    I also had a job as an Expeditor through Blue Arrow Agency, that involved working in an office, not bad, money was quite good, I was given a pile of folders on suppliers contracts and specifications with delivery dates, when the company productions were being held up,it was my job to phone and ask what there problem was. At first a polite answer was good for me, something I could relay to the Management.
    But later when I could see nothing happening and management were giving me a hard time, it changed my attitude. And I took great delight in sending really shitty Emails and letters all had to be done by mail,so I had a record and log of the events.
    The hard touch most times brought quick response and groveling letters of apology.
    This job was temporary as I was filling in for a person who was on Sick leave Later I was asked by the management would I like the job full time, I had to explain No.
    The manager told me before I left, if I wanted a job, I could always apply for a job with them. The Blue Arrow agency also received a letter saying my services were better than expected this was noted on my file, for any new agency work when I applied.

    I made it very clear to Blue Arrow at the start, NO catering related work and No cleaning contracts. (this was my holidays)

    The money had no real bearing on this, I was getting my full seagoing salary every month, and what ever money I received from the Agency, I was getting Taxed on. The woman who looked after me at Blue Arrow,questioned my high Tax code; when I explained my Sea Salary she nearly fell off her stool. “She said you get all that and you get ones days paid Holiday for every day you work”

    Good times and every time a new experience. Mostly 9-5, five days a week.Kept me out of the pubs and out of the wife’s hair.
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 1st December 2019 at 08:51 PM.
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website


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