Thursday, April 29, 2010


Lots of moons ago I worked at one of the then many BBC Clubs. It was generally good fun, and as the reputation of the food at the clubs was far better than at the BBC Canteens, things were generally busy.
One week however, I got a call from one of the bosses asking me if I'd be willing to cover another member of staff at another BBC Club who was going on holiday, and as I knew how things operated (I was a senior catering manager no-less, nothing to do with my age, just my nous and experience) the next Monday found me travelling another two stops or so on the 207 bus route to my 'new', temporary work place.
After I'd found where to put my coat and where the loos were, I got stuck in to familiarizing myself with layout of the kitchen area, which was rather different from my usual kitchen inasmuch as part of it was directly connected to the bar area as the bar staff needed access to get to their glass cleaner which was in the kitchen.
The Club where I was spending the rest of the week was also much larger and rather busier than my little Club and had many more bar staff working there, some of whom said hello to me, but the majority just got on with their work as if I wasn't there, and although I was my usual cheery, smiley self, the bar staff pretty much ignored me.
By Wednesday I'd got the hang of where everything was and had sussed out the easiest and quickest way to get everything done before the Club opened so that I could get a break and put my paws up for a while before feeding the 500 or so regular customers.
About half an hour before the Club was due to open for lunch, I'd cooked and prepared everything that needed to be cooked and prepared, and set out the food ready for the rush, and so I grabbed a cuppa and settled down in a comfy armchair next to the kitchen entrance so I could keep an eye on things including the last batch of sausages that were slowly browning in a pan.
My break came to an abrupt stop when I suddenly heard one of the bar staff shout 'Fire!' at the top of his voice, and next I knew he'd run into the kitchen holding a metal bin, the contents of which were on fire and blazing nicely.
He ran around in small circles before screaming out 'Fire!' again which got the attention of the other bar staff, who also came rushing into the kitchen behind him.
For a couple of moments there was shear panic as about six blokes ran around in small circles wondering what to do next.
One of them had a brainwave which was to get a fire extinguisher, and so they ran out of the kitchen in search of one.
While they ran around the Club panicking, I calmly went into the kitchen, got hold of a fire retardant padded cloth used for taking extremely hot things out of ovens, picked up the metal bin, placed it into the sink and turned the tap on which put the fire out.
I then went back to my comfy armchair and cuppa.
At last, one of the bar staff found a fire extinguisher and they all ran back into the kitchen only to find everything under control, the fire in the sink, and no flames except the ones under the sausages.
They looked stunned until they figured out what might have happened and one of them came up to me and asked if I'd put the fire out, to which I replied simply 'Yes'.
That day, after I'd finished work, the barman who'd asked me if I'd stopped the fire asked me if I'd care for a drink before I went home, and the next day when I came in, I got a cuppa brought to me when I arrived and also when I sat down for a break. They also began to say hello to me instead of ignoring me, but I was still very glad to get back to my own little Club the following week.