Tuesday, July 15, 2008


A fair few years ago I worked for a most sinister company called The BBC Club. Now, this is not part of the BBC itself, but without this corporation, many famous personalities may well have kept their livers and lives intact.
Famous for providing good food* and booze at subsidized prices, there were many of these clubs dotted around the London vicinity, and me, being one of the rather more knowledgeable when it came to catering than some, was given the title of Senior Catering Assistant, although I was still only 18.
This did not mean any extra amounts of cash at the end of the working week, but instead the honour of being able to cover for other BBC Club catering assistants, should they want to go on a holiday or whatever.
I got to meet many charming folk during these adventures, and I will not name the exact locations of where I worked or any of the staff, just in case I still owe money someone I can't stand tries to find me from out of the woodwork to 'reminisce about the good old days' or whatever.
So, one week found me at one of the more well known Clubs, covering for someone yet again. Doing this at the smaller clubs was fine as I could just get on with things being the only person there, but in the bigger places I'd often get interrupted by people talking to me and getting in my way as they used 'my kitchen'.
One day found me on the phone placing orders for the next few days and I was surrounded by the bar staff all bustling about getting ready to open for the lunchtime rush.
Next I knew, a young lad came dashing out from the bar shouting "Fire! Fire! Somebody help, quick!"
At first a nervous giggle went round, but the smoke coming from behind the bar soon put a stop to that!
The next few minutes were mayhem as the staff ran around looking for the nearest fire extinguisher and it was getting more like a scene from a Carry On film than an attempt to put out a fire so I asked the person I was speaking to if they'd hold for a moment, and went to have a quick look.
There, right in the middle of the bar was a waste bin which was full of paper which was burning away merrily, but not doing much damage at all.
I nipped back into the kitchen, grabbed the heavy duty cloth used for taking hot things out of the oven, picked up the bin, took it into the kitchen, put in into the sink and turned the tap on.
Hey presto, fire out.
The panic however was not over and the staff still carried on faffing about until they got the right extinguisher.
The look on the head barman's face was a picture as he rounded the end of the bar with the fire extinguisher in his hands, primed and ready to go only to find nothing.
I didn't bother explaining anything, just went back to the phone and said 'Sorry about that, I just had to deal with the rubbish'.
I went back there a year or so ago.
It's a miracle the place is still standing really.

*Anything is better than the horror that is the BBC Canteens.