Mrs Horseley, the Cook, in her mid 40's, was the boys' friend. She smoked and we could cadge fags off her. She swore at us and we could swear back and she was extremely good fun. In fact, the kitchen became one of the meeting points - especially in winter as we could stand by the open oven doors. She was like a mother - the same type of banter. She only worked during the day and therefore cooked Breakfast and Lunch and prepared all the other meals for the other staff to heat-up, or whatever they did to the food. Mrs. Reynard, an Assistant Cook, was in her mid 50's. She was always reading the newspaper and a good source for football results; quite a Leeds United fan. Her bark was worse than her bite. I got on very well with these two and we spent a lot of time in their company. If I was ever at a loose end, then I would pop down and have a chat with either - strange when I think back at what we did. As boarders, we had this daily rota of washing up and laying the tables. A book, called The Pots Book, was kept in the dinning room; inside was a list of all those eligible for washing up and laying the tables. Those excluded were Staff, Guests, Head Boy and Prefects - everyone else took their turn. Doing The Pots Book was regarded as a privilege. Same as 'Ringing the Gong' - mind you, get it wrong and suddenly it's not much of a privilege. Washing up was in fact drying the plates/cutlery/glasses and kitchen utensils and putting the same back in the Dining Room cupboards. Laying tables was just the opposite procedure, putting the plates/cutlery and glasses on the tables ready for the next meal. When we assembled behind our dining chairs Charlie Cass would point to a boy as the nod to 'Say Grace'. "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful", Get it wrong, get it in the neck!. Just before the end of the meal, the boy in charge of The Pots Book would take the book from a drawer in the long side board and select two boys for washing up and two for tables. As soon as the nominated boy said grace at the end of a meal, The Pots Book boy would read out the names for both chores - more groans and complaints. The same exercise of pointing to a boy to say Grace was repeated at the end of the meal. Dave Guest (now Reverend Guest) was a Lay Preacher and taught Religious Knowledge; always gave a stunning Grace reading, being very different to our standard rendition but we had no idea what he said. A certain Mrs X cooked the evening meal and cleaned the school. There were a lot of thefts from the school - money, clothes, food, etc. She gained the boys' trust by pretending to be interested. We had so much trust in her that we even told her the combinations of the locks, the traps that we had set, where the spare keys were, etc. so that if she saw anything untoward she could act. She certainly did, helping herself to the lot. She was stealing from the Kitchen. It all came to a head when we complained to Mrs Horsley about the food; she couldn't understand what we were on about as she had left the correct amount in the pantry. We said we hadn't eaten any of that, and so on. Ali Buchan did a stock take and sure enough the pantry was light. All too easy, her husband was a van driver, and always collected her when he parked his van round the back. She got her marching orders and left that day. There was a lady who cleaned the dorms, etc.; she had one leg shorter than the other and was affectionately known as 'Hopalong'. We lived on Fish & Chips that we bought in Mount St and when we finished them we followed the same ritual each time, tossing our papers into her garden. Her garden must have been overflowing with paper. By John B Crowther:
One of the catering staff, a D- S-, could have made a big hit in Hammer House of Horror films - but she would have had to have been toned down a bit to make her less frightening! She coughed and smoked whilst doing food preparation etc. Whilst her catering firm was on trial excellent meals were dished out but all that came to an abrupt end once they had gained the contract.
We used to walk to the fish & chip shop just off West park, the grandly named, Tower Street Fisheries, but only in wintertime when it was dark so there was no chance of getting caught! Other haunts were chiefly coffee bars, namely The Concourse, at the bottom of Montpellier Hill near the White Hart, The Bete Noir in Oxford Street, Marinda's in Lower Station Parade, The Las Vegas on Parliament Street and also The Grotto in Knaresborough. Many hours were spent listening to the juke box records of the fifties. Later we tried out the first Chinese restaurant in Harrogate, which was called The Canton, at the bottom of Montpellier situated where Farrah's used to be in Royal Parade.
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