The Disgruntled Dishwasher

I started washing dishes as a child in order to have a smoke in the kitchen while my mother was watching telly in the living room. It was perfect because if she came towards the kitchen, I could extinguish the cigarette immediately in the dish water. Being a serious smoker herself, she wouldn’t notice the smell, so it was perfect. And, furthermore, I got an artistic satisfaction from washing dishes. Dishwashing has always been a delight to me.

I started dish washing and smoking around ten years old.

As I got older, I ended up with in-laws coming to parties at my married home and, not being very sociable, I was able to get on with washing up and drying the dishes while everybody else was gabbing and socialising and nobody thought me rude or anti-social. In fact, I think my mother-in-law and sisters and brothers-in-law were quite impressed with my diligence.

I could cook as well; fish and chips and curries were my speciality but I branched out into omelettes, soups, and woks. Dish washing and cooking enabled me to avoid sitting and socialising and also enabled me to be able to drink excessively without anyone noticing.

In my life time I even had employment twice as a dish-washer, or rather as a plongeur as George Orwell called it when he was washing dishes in Paris. My first washing up job was at Lancashire County Cricket Club in Old Trafford in the 70’s. It was the location where Ariane Grande gave her second concert after the first one got bombed but that was forty years after my dishwashing debut. The Cricket Club had foolishly opened an exclusive restaurant, all Italian waiters, and my mate Eugene as chef. He was a great chef and had learnt his trade at Hollins Domestic Science College, the Toast-rack building, and in the Merchant Navy working for Manchester Liners.

The restaurant only stayed open for a few weeks, not because of me and Eugene and our excessive drinking of the stock, but because nobody ever came. I think we only had three customers and there were four waiters and me and Eugen and we were tucking into steaks, prawns, beer, and wine every night. All good things come to an end. Perhaps the Cricket Club should have advertised more.

My second and final dish-washing job lasted even shorter; one day in fact. The Employment Exchange in Gothenburg sent me on the job as I was awaiting to be placed on a language course for Swedish for Immigrants. I broke something on the first day at work in the restaurant but can’t remember what it was and can’t remember if I broke whatever it was deliberately. I think I probably got sacked deliberately because at that time I felt dish washing was below my dignity as I had educated myself at university in England and had come to work in Sweden as an English teacher.

That’s my history of dishwashing and working in restaurants.

Author: Philip Gee

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