Tag Archives: Blogging

Half Baked: Lessons Learned From a Dead End Career In Hospitality – Part 1.

Pappas Kitchen

I’d go on to associate 3:00am on a Sunday morning with stumbling home drunk from town: eighty quid down, my trainers scuffed to bits and guided by streams of piss and the stench of Joop to the nearest 24 hour bakery. Before those bleary years, there was a time that I’d be ‘working’ at this god awful hour, before I would notice what laborious road I was hurtling down; and about eleven hours before your mum had the dinner on. I’d go on to work in many restaurants, cafes and bars. But it all began in my dad’s small bakery in Torry at the unsullied age of twelve. This was work experience. An introduction to the working world and a literal awakening by a tinny cheap alarm clock picked up from the cash and carry.

My dad always worked in the industry. A baker by trade and a grafter. Growing up, I have memories of him dotting about the city from A to B, looking to pick something up or sort something out. I would be given the choice of coming in or waiting in the car, as he went down some unspecified stairwell or chap on the back door. I would usually pick the latter as these visits tended to be lengthy, despite the assurance of “just popping in”. As he would talk about, (whatever the hell bakers talked about…) I’d get to try the cakes or be shown how something is done or how a machine works. For example, he worked in a little shop that specialized in wedding cakes. I remember being given a blank cake board and a piping bag with various coloured icing to play with. This was the equivalent of pencils and paper to keep me busy and kept me out of the way. I didn’t mind. I found these experiences fascinating. I fondly remember meeting some local characters and learning how an industrial kitchen functioned.

My dad would go on to buy The Pantry: a small, no thrills bakery that catered mainly for the early morning trade. Initially, he ran the place single-handedly, although help would come in later in the morning to serve the public. I think he found the experience somewhat lonely. In my opinion, the best part of any kitchen job (bar, you know, actually cooking things and completing a successful service) is the social environment created by you and your colleagues. Working side by side with the right team can keep you going throughout a long day. Without that, you may only have the radio for company and the inner workings of a tired brain.


On Saturday night, I’d go to bed fully clothed because…that’s what grown-ups do?…dreading the inevitable 3:00am wake up from my tinny pocket alarm clock; and my dad who would absurdly wake me up a minute or two before it went off. I often ignored his attempts to wake me in hope that I would get away with not going. This had limited success. I’d lumber into the car in pitch darkness and sleep for most of the journey, awakened as we approached the bakery, by the stench of fresh fish and the sound of screeching seagulls.

Opening up was always the worst part: lighting all the stoves, cranking them up full blast to get some heat into the kitchen; waiting for hot water to boil and counting the minutes and seconds until you could take your jacket off. Front of house was basic but practical: brightly coloured price tags peppered the walls and the display cabinets lay dark and bare. Between the hours of three and six, my dad would systematically work through producing pies, cakes, pancakes, etc. I’d be tasked with putting them on display, cleaning and other odd jobs. We’d also get deliveries during this time. I’d find myself making cups of teas and bacon rolls for the tradesman either ending or beginning their shift. You could usually tell which, by the dirtiness of their overalls and the level of weariness in their voice when they ordered.

As the morning went on and darkness fell to light, the bakery would get busier and I would get chirpier, knowing that the arrival of day come with my departure. I’d either get a lift home from my grandfather who would often help out; or from some indistinguishable woman who would do the sandwich run around local offices and drop me off on the way back. Before leaving, I would shuffle up to Blockbuster Video to rent a couple of Mega Drive games – this is how I would spend the rest of my weekend.

These sporadic shifts would indicate who I would become in the working world. My dad would go on to sell The Pantry and I dodged diabetes as a result. His next acquisition would be something far more exciting.

The tinny alarm clock never did ring again. Where as I, was just beginning to chime.


Glass Collecting: 8 Tools to Help You Survive Happy Hour.

The Exchange Hotel, Brisbane, Australia.

The Exchange Hotel, Brisbane, Australia.

Traveling the East Coast of Australia? Looking for work to fund onward travel? Enjoy cleaning up after drunk, drugged and dumb hipsters?

If you answered yes to all three of these questions, I have just the job for you!

Whilst living in Brisbane I worked at a night club, mostly as a waiter during sociable hours. To bump up my wage, I asked to do extra hours at the weekends, picking up glasses after my shift until the very small hours. As you can imagine, this kind of work is monotonous, soul-destroying and incredibly aggravating at times. But hey, it pays and if you need the cash, this can be a good little earner. Based purely on my experience, here are some tips to get you through happy hour. From sick to semen, I have it covered (figuratively of course.)

The Mop

Your induction will consist of a brief introduction of the tools you will need before going into battle. The first of which is the mop –  a 153classic time waster. Some girl has spewed all over the walls in the toilet? Take a break and go for a cigarette, as you’re going to need the fresh air before entering the stench pit. You know what awaits you and the only thing that will change between now and then, is the colour of her shoes and her level of dignity – yours diminished as soon as you signed up for the job. When you finally do arrive, usher drunks out of the cubicle like it’s a crime scene. Do not by any means interact with the culprit. She will have no remorse for her actions and tell you to leave  – which will anger you to no end – and she may be full of disease. Best form of action? Remind yourself at that moment why you need the money and get the cleaning over with as quickly as humanly possible.

Beside practical use, the mop can be used as a deterrent when cornered by jocks and hipsters. You will need to master two skills: The jab and the swing. When asked “Which part of Ireland are you from?” for the 10th time that evening, swing for his thick rimmed shades – he’s inside, it’s dark outside and they look fucking stupid anyway. Then follow-up with a straight jab to the voice box. That will protect your ears from his horribly bad accent.

The Sweeper

The sweeper consists of two items: a long-handled brush and a long-handled pan, both of which are designed to collect everything from cigarette butts to used condoms. At peak times, the sweeper may also be accompanied by a radio. This is to inform you of any breakages on the dance floor, (glass that is not noses) however at times you may feel somewhat patronized by the radio. The sign of a good ‘glassy’, (yes, this is what you will be called) is the ability to hear the sound of glass smashing from anywhere in the club, even over the load obnoxious reggaeton and electro. With practice, you will make it there in time to see some 18-year-old with skinny jeans and a vest, get tackled to the ground by the door staff for not doing much of anything. The entertainment value here is high, so it pays to be alert. Once you have followed the ruckus out the door, go for another cigarette before sweeping up the glass. By this point, nobody cares what you are doing, and neither do you.

Later, try heading out side to sweep. This will give you the opportunity to chat to the attractive door girl, tell the security about how much you hate your job and waste a good twenty minutes.

Top tip when actually sweeping: try using the side of the brush to knock in some butts. It creates more of a challenge and at times the odd butt will jump into the pan satisfyingly.

The Damp Cloth

138Similar to the mop, however the risk of coming in contact with bodily fluids is greater. If for any reason your cloth becomes dry during the evening, you may go behind the bar to damp it. This will give you the chance to engage in two second conversations to whomever is working, but be warned – there is a high chance no one will know your name. You could also use this time to grab a glass of water, marvel at the talent standing at the bar and act like you should  be serving. Be as nonchalant as possible. You’re not serving, but they don’t have to know that. Soon enough money will be shoved in your face and you’ll get screamed at. Walk out and carry on with your shift.

Damp cloth top tip: try wiping tables clockwise. Then anti clockwise. Mix it up and get creative!

The Tray

A classic tool used to stack glasses and the only part of your job that requires any sort of skill level. There is only one practical way to carry the tray and that is above your head, using one hand. There are two reasons for this.

  • In a packed club, absolutely no one will get out-of-the-way for you. Trying to maneuver around with a heavy tray by your side is near impossible. Plus you will end up slamming into people (which can be justified at times.)
  • People will try to add glasses to your tray. Keeping it balanced over your head will prevent this. Your tray is like a game of Jenga: perfectly poised, balanced and only fun if  drink is involved.

Add to your collection and go wild. Stack them; Place them side to side. The fun to be had is endless!

The will to live

Not a physical tool but just as important. You are going to need this. The shifts are long and boring and everyone around you is unbearable, but try to look at the bigger picture. Remember, you too are an obnoxious idiot when you are out. Remember, you won’t be doing this for long. Remember, that you probably will have to wait in McDonald’s for an hour with the same people after your shift as the first bus home hasn’t started yet. Remember, even with the extra shifts, you still can’t afford a taxi to the suburbs.

Becoming a  struggle? Try these games during your next shift to kill some time.

  • The 60 second game: When doing a lap around the club keep an eye on the clock. Feel the momentary satisfaction when you start a lap on the minute and get back to the same spot exactly a minute later. Challenging and there are many factors that could hold you up. Example: Guy comes up and asks you where the nearest cash machine is. You have ten seconds to spare. What do you do? Personally, I would ignore him. I have better things to do such as  beating my personal best. Girl asks the same question? Take as long as you need.
  • Guess the next song game: A stab in the dark but since the club only plays the same four songs, your chances for success is reasonably high.
  • The cock block game: Occasionally, girls will talk to you to escape the clutches of the rapey guy on the dance floor. You’re sober and he’s an asshole. Make her laugh, and watch him stress. Leave before he beats you up. Challenging but dangerous.

If you are heading over to Australia on a working visa my advice to you is to not be too picky. Take what comes your way and have fun with it. An experience – good or bad – is an experience none the less, to which you’ll learn from regard less. If you are willing to work all night and looking for a short term cash fix, glass collecting is at least an option, that – given the right club – could pay a decent wage.

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For All The Cows – How Tom Green can ruin your night…

It’s absolutely infuriating.

I want to write. I really do. So what is the problem?

Am I really going to go through this lengthy process again? And again? And….well you get the point. I see a pattern emerging and again I am fully aware of it.

You  know –  I’m the first person to point out my faults and I know them all very well. Dealing with them is  like cooking a romantic meal.You know if you are patient,gentle and calm, it will turn out tasting and looking great.But if you can’t be bothered from the get go all you want to do is flame the hell out of it,poke it around, slap it on the plate and serve it to the dog,knowing he will be the only person that will like it.

Constantly catering for and understanding my messed up head is exhausting,but now that I know I can get the better of it,creating a nice dish isn’t all that difficult. Light a candle.Put on some music. Make the most of it and enjoy it.

Ok so I’ll stop it with the cryptic messages and confusing analogies that absolutely no one understands.

In other words – Let’s cut the nonsense.

I’ll just skip straight to the point shall I?

I feel like I’m constantly taking my own advice. If this sounds confusing to you it is but bear with me.

I feel like my blogging persona ( in reality; my rational,helpful forward thinking side of my conscience) is who I want to be off-screen aswell as on. If this sounds egotistical to you and self-absorbed it most certainly is and you are definitely right. But i like that guy a lot better than the guy who sits around the house,streaming wrestling and taking naps.

I prefer the ‘blogger’ side of me. However confused he may be he has the right idea

(yes I am referring to myself in third person – big whoop – wanna fight about it?)

and I should really be reading between the lines and taking my own advice.Anyway i’ve come to realise what i really want to do/have a proper go at in my life.

I want to write.

Broad – yes. But it’s a start.

Ask me that same question two years ago I’d have still said a racecar driver or a cowboy

(of course i’ve never wanted to be any of those things but you get the meaning behind it)

It’s something I think about constantly,from when I wake up in the morning untill I go to sleep at night and all those wasted hours in between. I certainly  don’t want to be in the kitchen anymore. I know this. And the time is soon approaching where I can finally do something about it. Over the past couple of months I’ve spent around an hour a day looking at a blank screen wanting and pleading with myself to start writing. Anything at all. And I’m coming out blank. Last night I lay in bed for three hours thinking about it and all I could think about was the word Swedish.And then again. Some more Swedish. And some more.

Seriously Tom Green. Your career is over. Don’t sabotage mine before I’ve even started.

It’s the same thing over and over again. As soon as I lay down I want to write. And is soon as I start writing I can’t.And I didn’t plan to write any of this today.

I can’t blame Tom Green as much as I’d like too.

But you know what I’ve realised?

Throughout all of my entries there have been the same recurring themes.

Motivation and change.

I write about those two things constantly yet never take my own advice.

Weather it be writing about my bad habits,past experiences or just total nonsense, it all centres around change and want of it.

The other day (Let’s say Tuesday. You can make it sound funny if you say it with a thick tounge and in a funny voice).

Yes – I really do have that much time.

I read all my blogs back to myself as if it was a stranger i was reading about. I tried to really get behind my own words and draw some sort of conclusion of what I was truly trying to gain from writing. Yeh it’s fun,rewarding and enjoyable but as i’ve touched on before – it goes deeper than that.It’s nice to know that some people read them but that’s not what it’s about although it does keep me going. This is a true outlet for me and I treat it as some sort of therapy (fuck your ink blots Oberhalzer). Everytime I post I feel ten times better about the days ahead and feel like i’ve hit a reset switch in my head.

I’m not hard to get on with. It’s getting on with myself that’s the problem.

I am a man of needs.

We all need food,water and masturbation but let’s push past the necessities.

Well – i guess that answers that desert island question……

I need to be motivated. I need guidance.I need to be put in my place.I need to be told when I’m wrong. I need to be social. I need to be pushed.I need to be challenged. I need a purpose. I need to be out there(don’t ask where – just there) I need my imagination. I need confidence. I need to have faith in myself.

I don’t need new socks however i do need new underwear

I have most of those things already.

But I constantly need change.

And again that’s something that I have. I constantly have change. However it’s like changing a battery in a clock. You try fourteen different batteries,knowing too well that most of them are dead,yet throwing them out isn’t an option. Keeping them in a drawer and holding on to them makes no sense yet I still do it. Time won’t move on unless you do. You’re going to need new batteries. Focus on one. Throw the rest away. And much like the battery – Move with the time. Otherwise you will be left counting the minutes.

I just can’t stop that can I?

Change is only possible if you have the mental tools to do it. If you are constantly fighting a battle against it,nothing good will come of it. And that’s the spot i find myself in. And I’ve been down this road many times before.More recently in this post –motivation.

It’s a lot easier said than done. Or in my case written.

Reading back my thoughts to myself is quite an eye opener as I don’t do it often.

I realise that my  blogging persona makes sense to me,and that’s where I’m striving to be.It is the productive side that I must embrace and live with.And it’s the direction I need to go in. The other side of me is shit. And I’m done with it. He is a time waster with the best of intentions but a time waster never the less. I need to stop writing about the things I want to achieve and write about  doing them. Otherwise I honestly can’t see myself being a success.

Brutally honest but painfully true.

Next year is a big one for me. I’m moving back to the UK and it is a great opportunity to pursue what I want.And what I want is the ability to write organically,and naturally with the option of taking a step on the career ladder.But  right now I must take baby steps towards it Better than walking round in circles or taking steps backwards and also more realistic than big strides forwards. That how you pull a groin folks.

I want to write. And not about wanting to write.

You know what? Scrap that.

I need to write.

But first and foremost. I have to end the stalemate with my lazy other half,shake hands and call a truss.

I must change.

Then hopefully – the world will change with me.

Take it easy folks.