Chapter 15 Chairman’s Choice part 4
I have to go into hospital and have an operation to deal with some testicular cysts, I have had private medical insurance for some years now so I was able to have immediate treatment, I was in one day and out the next and after a week’s recuperation it was back to work.
There was a list of things that I was planning to do the following winter but the town hall in conjunction with the local fire brigade decided that I urgently needed to install a fire warning system and update the fire escape.
I put in some 60 smoke detectors and a few heat detectors also many fire extinguishers were required, in addition to lining all the doors with fireproof material, increasing the rebates and fitting wired glass where required: in the dining room which measured about 20m by 20m I had to take down all the oak beams and fit special thick plasterboard before refitting all the beams, I was thankful for the help supplied by my nephew John Terrell.
After making a few extra fire exits and some metal stairs from the kitchen roof they granted me a fire certificate.
To comply with the health and safety regulations that winter I was also required to upgrade the kitchen, despite the fact we had three sinks in the kitchen they insisted that I needed a separate wash basin for the staff to wash their hands, the kitchen walls were tiled right up to the ceiling but unfortunately the tiles were crazed due to their age, I was obliged to retile every square inch of the huge kitchen.
I also fitted Marley style floor tiles in plas
tic which was a big improvement but was a little slippery when wet.
I used to like to take the opportunity, if I had suitable staff, to slip away for a short holiday, I really enjoyed going over to Holland and staying in a place called Schreveningen, this is in fact the seaside part of Den Haag, I liked it because it has a casino, very good restaurants and a nudist beach, it was also a twenty minute tram ride to Den Haag which has much the same attractions as at Amsterdam.
I visited the nudist beach whenever I could and I found this to be very enjoyable, I am not a shy person, and I’m sure I have some inherent exhibitionist tendencies, the Dutch people are very open minded and naked sunbathers can even be seen in the city’s Parks.
We had several cases of theft from the hotel, in broad daylight a man walked into the reception area picked up the 26 inch television and staggered off up the road to his nearby apartment, even getting his landlord to help him up the stairs, so many people witnessed this that he was obliged to carry it back the next day.
On another occasion knowing I had a flat to let after viewing it the cheeky bastards came back that night and stole an Italian marble fireplace, I noticed some soot in one of the corridors in the hotel and I followed this trail only to find a hole in the wall, I’m fairly certain I know who had it but I couldn’t prove it.
I never opened the hotel for Christmas trade for two reasons, I was working on various parts of the hotel and in addition I could invite all the family to come and stay for Christmas and I must say we had some marvelous times, I started to record the family history on video and the Christmas videos are some of the first.
It is very difficult to get the chronology right but I will tell you of the Christmas that we had the bad storm, we do not get tornadoes in England but in this storm I am sure that we had what we call whirlwinds, I could hear the tiles sliding off the roof and landing with a crash, the wind destroyed part of the canopy and some of my new sign, and instead of relaxing that Christmas my son-in-law Donald and I were up in the attic, where you could look up at the sky, spreading tarpaulins: the roof of a house just two roads away was torn completely off.
Fortunately the new sign that I had just put up on the front wall, which consisted of separate letters, each of which had cost me 20 pounds to have made, survived with no damage.
The damage to the roof was so extensive I put in an insurance claim and had the builders come in to put it all right.
By the following Easter we were in a much better position most of the hotel was now in use and I was employing the usual dozen or so young girls, sadly one of the young boys from last year, had died in an accidental fire which he caused whilst cleaning his motorcycle in his garage, a tragic accident, he was such a nice lad. Hazel by this time had left but she was still working locally and Anna would come and play around the hotel after school until Hazel picked her up.
During the summer the routine was after dinner I would retire to a private lounge that I had made between the ballroom and the bar, I would sit there trying to relax and at the same time serving in the bar answering the telephone and getting the reception bell, I tried employing a barman who was a distant relative of mine but whilst secretly monitoring his actions I realized he was putting half the takings into his wallet, He lasted just one evening, I didn’t make a big fuss I just told him I couldn’t afford to employ him.
I was still doing the printing for the hotel with the exception of the fancy colored brochure, and I managed to buy a secondhand treadle operated printing machine, the problem was I had to go and collect it from Sandbay and it weighed several hundred pounds, my trusty trailer was put to good use again.
It was about this time that Vora volunteered to give me a hand during the summer, Vora is Donald’s mother a hardworking capable lady and we got on very well, she organized the staff timetables and supervised, and at the end of the summer she would slip off back to her house in Freshford to cut the lawns.