Duty Chef, Steve. R.I.P.

Cpt Dick Brooks
3rd November 2015, 13:06
I was just on my way home to my flat, after doing my Tuesday shop, when I bumped into an old work colleague of mine. I'd just come from Sainsbury's, and was double-bagged, with a heavy bag in each hand. I was walking over Stoke Bridge, in Ipswich, when coming towards me was my old mucker, David... known to his work-mates as Davy-Baby.
I had spent the last ten years of my working life as a Night Security Person at Lyndon House... the Salvation Army hostel in Fore Street, Ipswich, for homeless men... and had to work right up to my 65th birthday to qualify for a full state pension, having spent fifteen years working overseas with my two last ships, Dauntless Star and Debut. David was a Kitchen Porter, and had worked there all of his working life. Both he and his parents were Salvationists, and had lived quite near to me in Maidenhall Estate where we both grew up as children.
I was chatting to David about the Sally, as I'd been retired going on for five years, and naturally enquired about fellow staff members. It was then that he told me about Duty Chef Steve passing away in August, only two and a half months ago.
It was quite a shock, I can tell you, as he was only in his late fortes or early fifties, and was a strong, fit young fellow. Whenever Steve was on duty, you knew you had a good feed waiting for you in the kitchen after completing your supper detail... serving tea and sandwiches to the residence of the hostel. His food was always well presented and good-tasting... and plenty of it... not like another chef, whose grey slop was absolutely tasteless.
After some minor problem with the management, they had subjected him to a disciplinary hearing and sacked him... and that was after more than twenty years of good, honest service... for nothing! With the world economy as it is, he may have found it difficult to get another job... especially without a decent reference to his name. He got the taste for the bottle, but his liver and kidneys couldn't handle it... and he passed away in great pain.
All the lads in the Sally thought I was a bit of a wimp for adding water to my whisky, but I used to tell them to give their liver a chance. One part whisky and two parts water was my rule, by they all liked to neck-it right out of the bottle, or at least take it in shots. I'd point out to them that there was a young fellow named Georgie Best, who thought he could beat the bottle... but the bottle always wins in the end.
As we all know, part of the job description of a ship's captain is being able to drink. I would say to doubters... 'If you could drink all you want from morning 'till dusk, without it costing you a penny, how much would you drink? Most of them said, 'Until I fell down drunk.' I would put to them, 'But if you had a really good paying job, and other people depended on you for their life... how much would you drink?' Most people I knew would fess-up and say the same. I like to drink my daily quota of half a litre a day, but well watered.
I know of so many people that have gone this way, and it was such a pity and a loss that it had to be my old work colleague, Steve. All the best, Steve, we will always remember you. From all your old work mates, may you rest in peace. Cpt Dick Brooks.

4th November 2015, 21:14
Thanks for that, Cap'n. He never cooked for England; never got a knighthood, or a peerage; not even a LSGC Medal; just one of the millions of unsung heroes who make the whole thing work. I also water my scotch, a little, and I'll think of your pal Steve when I have one later.

Cpt Dick Brooks
5th November 2015, 01:45
Good to hear from you, samsette. These do-gooders always pick on someone who can't fight back. If you read my book, 'The Black Ship's Odyssey, Book Three', you will see how I handled them. They pulled in their scrawny necks after I'd finished with them. For details go to the Book Forum under that heading.
I'm sipping on a glass of Famous Grouse with water at the moment, watching The Cuban Missile Crises on BBC One, which was the main reason that I decided to go to sea in the first place. I gave up my place at college because of it, and President Kennedy being assassinated a year later, where I was studying to become an architect, and bought my first ship less than three months later. I wanted to see the world before they blew it up. All the best, Cpt Dick Brooks.