Friday, 7 December 2018
Reading time 2 minutes 2 seconds
The worst job I ever had – Derek & Clive
The TV show Auf Wiedersehen Pet was about the life of English workers in Dusseldorf. I loved that programme and when some friends of mine mentioned they were going to live and work in Germany I asked if I could tag along because I wanted to live the life of Wayne, Neville, Barry and Dennis.
At the time Germany was the promised land and I found a job within 2 hours despite the fact that I didn’t speak any German. Luckily their superior education system meant that everybody spoke English, most of them better than what I does, and it enabled me to get my dream job as the head of the dishwashing department in a family run hotel.
The hotel was located by a gorgeous glacial lake in the Schwartzwald , aka the Black Forest. A few years later when served Black Forest Gateaux at my birthday I suddenly realised its origin which proved to me that I was less bright than the match that had just been blown out to light the candles.
Like all jobs it had its ups and downs and one of the downs in this job involved murdering fish.
Chef demonstrated for me. He would grab a fish from the tank hit it over the head with this little German baseball bat and end its life in one simple efficient blow. The first time I was shown this I was horrified as I thought fish came from P. Callafrancesco chip shop in Manor Park.
When the order came in the Chef would shout “Herr Wills fisch bitte” which roughly translated meant, “Oi Willsy it’s clobbering time, fish please”.
I trudged down the stairs of doom to the cellar and thought if our customers knew what was going to happen they would have ordered the steak. The fish tank was about the size of an old school TV and the poor creatures behind the glass became very frenzied as I approached. It was the opposite of the claw machine in Toy Story.
The trick was to commit murder as quickly as possible causing the fish no stress, thereby reducing its adrenalin which alters the taste. I failed at this every single time as I should have been like Vanilla Ice – a one hit wonder [I should watch Top Of The Pops on Thursday night to be more up to date with music]. Their desire to live was strong and they would wriggle a lot and were as slippery as a cockney car dealer. They would end up on the cellar floor jumping all over the place but eventually I would catch one and end up straddled across it with my knee on its chest beating its poor little brains out with multiple hits, unlike Vanilla Ice .
In those few moments I turned into Bob Hoskins in the Long Good Friday.
I’d return to Chef filthy dirty and he would look at me and smile. He was ruthless and, like the fish, I was gutless. Fish adrenalin, mixed with East London tears, didn’t last long on the menu and soon I was gone.
Auf Wiedersehen Mat.
Picture: I was gifted this “Stein” by a friend from those murdering days. How I’ve not managed to break it in 30 years is a minor miracle. I’m naked from the waist down in this photo. I’m guessing you didn’t need to know that.