Chapter 13 Chairman’s Choice part 2
My eldest son Raymond was 21 in August 1977 so we decided we would have a party in the hotel, there were dozens of family and friends and everything was going along very nicely, we had music and dancing, and a performance by the Morris dancers with their white suits covered in bells and their dancing sticks: we had a free bar and a good time was had by all, until some idiot went over to the local pub and broadcast the fact that we had a free bar, we were invaded by a mob of gate crashers so I closed the bar, told Hazel to take the dog downstairs, ushered uncle Dave upstairs as he had recently had a heart attack.
When I got back to the dining room I found Raymond had been knocked unconscious and some idiot had upturned a table full of food, I moved to protect another lad that was lying on the floor and about to be subjected to a kicking, my arrival caused the gatecrasher to panic and he left through a window without bothering to open it.
The police got involved because one of the gate crashers finished up in hospital with stab wounds, but other than that and the fact I had several pieces of glass to replace no other damage was done.
Having worked hard all the winter we were in a much better position by Easter 1978, it was a race against time to get as many rooms as possible ready to let, the holiday trade was still fairly good at that time and everywhere was full up over the Easter period, the food we provided was pretty basic English cooking, standard English breakfast and a roast for the evening meal, as the numbers increased I had to employ a chef and the routine was I would be up by 08:00 to make sure the chef was available to cook the breakfast so that I could retire to the office to answer the post.
I always considered it essential to answer postal inquiries by return, I acquired a copier, secondhand of course and used to do a standard letter that only needed the inquirers name to be filled in, and to be added to a standard information pack, put the return address on the envelope and off it goes.
I never employed any tradesmen to do the work with the exception of one German painter that we had fulltime for a short while, he could not speak any English but if I put the paint and brush in his hand and pointed out where to paint he was a good worker.
I was having to employee lots of young females to wait on the tables and service the bedrooms and I usually had a few young boys who did the washing up, I resolved very early on to never mix business with pleasure as that is a sure way to upset productivity.
A task that required urgent attention was the removal of some dangerous chimneys, these were on part of the house that was built in 1805, the original house was built by Lord Nelson’s doctor when he retired, at that time it was surrounded by fields and there is a photograph in the main hall of Weston-super-Mare library which shows it like this, to remove the chimneys I had to hire some scaffolding to get up onto the roof, remove it stone by stone and throw it down into the garden, some of these I could only just lift.
The hotel had a marvellous history, in the nineteen thirties it was huge and prosperous, it was requisitioned and was occupied by the American army during the war and it is reported afterwards that the owners removed buckets of nails from the oak panelling in the lounge which had served as their PX during their stay, up in the attic I picked up a suitcase full of discarded letters, old cigarette packets, and empty food tins.
At this time I employed a manager mainly because he could play the piano to entertain the guests, he didn’t last long because he didn’t share my philosophy of not getting involved with the rest of the staff, I also arranged to have an organist coming in twice a week for dancing and that went down very well, I had a residential and restaurant license so I could serve beers, wines and spirits.
I had taken on a young couple who lived in, he was a qualified electrician who only acted as the chef and she was the manager of the female staff, all went well until they had a falling out, which terminated in him chasing her, knife in hand, but I managed to rescue her and they departed shortly after.
My nephew John Terrell and his wife Kath came to stay for a short while and he helped me construct and erect the sign around the canopy over the front door, angle iron welded boxes with plastic sign panels, about eight meters long, 26ft. in old money.
Stella,JH,Janet,Alan and Raymond
My children and I
I have been interested in computers since the very early days I had one of Mr. Sinclair’s build it yourself kits, I think it was called a ZX80, and for years before that I had been reading Practical mechanics, at one time they had a project to build a tic-tack-toe game which I built into a fancy Victorian tea caddie.
I had one of the first upright Macintosh machines, an Apple 2E and a Commodore: whilst I was working for the British Aircraft Corporation I attended a short course for programming in Fortran, this was enough to wet my appetite and later on I taught myself some Basic, much later on I used Visual Basic to construct a forecaster program for the UK National Lottery. But that’s another story
Some feedback would be nice,what would you have done next had you been in my position?