15 May 1985 – Very thin on the ground in terms of interesting-to-blog-about activity (I hope it picks up soon!). Another day of serving those bastards at the United Service Club who actually paid me money to fund my lifestyle. Mind you, I do think fondly of my time there. My realm was the basement and cellar which consisted of a retail bottle shop and a pathway into the underworld where the cellars were. The President’s Cellar, which mainly contained dusty bottles of red and fortified wines was the home of a dozen of every vintage on Grange Hermitage; bottles of sherry with typed labels (“from the war”, I was told), and; vast quantities of French Bordeaux. This cellar was locked and I was only given the key under supervision when the great man called for something special.
The Green House – Part of the USC
The United Service Club was staffed by a motley crew. Lance the head chef was a tiny beer powered dynamo, who made regular trips to his fridge (right next to the beer fridge) and always returned to the kitchen with a stubbie or 2 hidden amongst the prime cuts. Sammy the Sicilian kitchen hand was an angelic, unflappable older gent with a thick accent and a heart of gold. (Sounds like I’m penning the script for an Aussie Soap Opera… or a disaster movie). There were various apprentice chefs in various states of perpetual stoned-ness and Margaret, the Geordie Dining Room Supervisor – firm but strict. There was also Reen – the Dutch Maitre’d who was channelling a Nazi war criminal; a collection of office girls and the boss, Secretary-Manager Wing Cdr Whytecross who was as chinless a man as I have ever seen. The Yardman, John Robb was a Jack-of-all-trades, as skinny as a stick and who lived nearby in Spring Hill and could drink beer like someone who drank an awful lot of beer. He had the boss’s dickhead son as his hapless, incompetant off-sider. We were really just missing a nun with a guitar to complete this picture.
I did get free (at first – then vastly discounted) lunch from the restaurant kitchen and plenty of samples of wine, beer and spirits to be going on with. I also got attitude dripping from the ex-service clientelle, who really missed being able to issue orders to subordinates and snap their pudgy fingers for more single malt. Meh! It paid the bills.
Anyway, after work this day I was collected by Pip and we attended a La Bamba meeting at La Boite, where my diary says we entirely re-organised things back to how they were when John Stanwell ran the show. I guess things must have run better then?
John Stanwell – Now