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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 39 - Autumn / Winter 1980
Refreshments Review - Anthea Hanscomb
You will be delighted to learn that I am not going to write another boring article about washing up cups! I could say a great deal more on the subject, but I am hoping that by the time you read this the water will finally have reached the coach - so I promise I won't mention it. I would, however, like to thank most warmly our Chairman, David Potter, and all the non-catering members who so kindly tackled the job of washing up during the May Day and Late Spring Holiday Open Days. They really were a terrific help. No, the reason for this Refreshment Review is quite different.
Thanks to the sterling work of a small number of devoted members and the Job Creation team, we have been using the coach for refreshments since the Easter Open Days - and, as we have been steaming every Sunday during July and August, you can imagine what a difference it has made to us. What a relief to be out of the Booking Hall, where you will remember we had the counter, and out of the room we laughingly referred to as the kitchen (even though we still have to do the washing up in there ... sorry I promised I wouldn't mention it again ... ) and, to crown it all, we have a cash register! Electrically driven - fantastic - and, on Sunday 1st July, I found myself rostered in the coach, on my own, from 10 am to 12 noon. I would be able to get in some basic training on our beautiful new toy!
A member, who shall be nameless, took me through the basic 'till-drill' - "Oh God! you silly woman, I didn't say press that one" figured rather a lot in his instructions, but after a while I felt I had more or less mastered the technique and could do my first solo operation. "There isn't a nought on this thing", I inadvertently said. (Oh, the stupid things one says in moments of panic.) "Of course not", chorused about three voices, "hundreds, tens and units". "Good heavens", I murmured, "how clever". It somehow took me back to my kindergarten days (twice one is two, twice two are four). Concentrate woman! Oh well, I'm in my second childhood so what the hell ... "Good Lord, how have I got 80 when I want 08?" Why did I say it out loud? It promptly brought a member gleefully at the gallop to show me where I had gone wrong!
"If you find", I said to Andrew our treasurer, who happened to come in for coffee, "that the money in the till bears little resemblance to what is printed on this piece of paper ... " "You'll be sacked" he said, finishing the sentence for me. "I would watch out for her if I were you" said an unhelpful member to a visitor, who was about to part with a £1 note. "She still has her L plates on". "I see" said the gentleman - and he quickly added up his purchases, while I tapped it out on the machine. "46 pence please", and I looked at his modest purchases. "Is that right?" I queried. "It seems to be a lot for very little". His wife laughed. "Quite right" she said. "It is a pity", mused another unhelpful member, "that it isn't one of the machines that tells you what change to give". "No need" I replied. "I have an excellent way of working out the change". "Oh goodness" said the gentleman - and he carefully counted the money I had handed him. "It is correct" he said with a grin, sounding a bit too surprised for my liking!
Curious how news travels round Quainton, easily exceeding the speed of light. It was surprising how many members appeared for cups of tea, Mars bars, Penguins, crisps, etc. - and funny how they had to hang around the till while I added up their purchases. "NO" yelled Robin in my ear, bringing me smartly down to earth, "the Frys choc cream is NOT mine, it is Mike's!!" "Ha! Ha!" said a third and even more unhelpful member. "I hadn't finished collecting what I want, now you'll have to ring up the rest and then add together 46 and 37". He looked triumphant (nasty man). Counting on my fingers (under the counter), I just managed to master it and handed him his change - 17 pence. "Wouldn't it have been better", asked a pain in the neck who had his nose in the till drawer, "to have given him 5p and 2p with the 10p and not seven 1p bits?" Unfortunately, I missed his nose as I slammed the drawer shut.
The morning flew by. "Is that all you want Sir?" I asked politely of one of my customers as I rushed happily down to the till. "There is only one snag, I don't know all the prices yet" I added.
"I don't like the way you are rubbing your hands together" he observed. "Is it in anticipation of the amount of profit you are going to make on this transaction, or are you limbering up?" In the excitement, I forgot to give him his tea!
Later on I noticed a gentleman, who had paid, hovering down by the till. I went up to him. "Can I get you anything else" I asked. "No", he whispered, "I didn't want to say this out loud, but you never charged me for the sandwiches" - and he slipped 50p into my hand. "How very kind of you", I whispered back, "put it down to the excitement". "I thought that was it" he replied. "Does this thing become airborne at all" I was asked by one amused customer, as I inadvertently pressed the total button and the drawer whammed into my stomach. "Oh! Ha! Ha! Ha!" said the fourth unhelpful member, roaring with laughter. "You can't afford to put on any weight can you, or the drawer will pin you to the wall!!"
Someone was rostered on the till for the afternoon. I have a feeling I wasn't quite trusted with our new toy!
As a postscript to this lighthearted article, we should report that, by the August Open Days, the water was laid on and the drains were working. The electric water heater was also in service and there was plenty of hot water for washing up - so all was well. What a wonderful improvement for staff and for visitors is W64. It has transformed the situation and several non-catering members came to the rescue and did long stints of washing up. Many thanks everyone for your most welcome help.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 November 2017