On one occasion I was assisting Peter installing a system in a famous bed manufacturing mill in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. The mill had been repurposed and was now full to the roof on the ground level with beds and mattresses whilst the upper floors were where the products were manufactured.
It was amusing seeing a lorry arrive, reverse up to the loading door and open the back, a team of people descended on the dispatch department and each picked up either a bed or a mattress and carried it onto the lorry, then in a circular walk, returned for another item until the lorry was full, it was like watching leaf cutter ants in a zoo.
That first day it was raining so we decided to eat in the company canteen, we wanted to avoid the mill workers break so decided to go at eleven, assuming they would break at twelve, however this was incorrect and at eleven fifteen the hordes descended.
The company canteen comprised long benches either side of long tables, once you were in the middle, you could not get out until everyone left. Not an issue for the factory workers usually, but suddenly Peter and I found ourselves squeezed into the middle facing each other with half a dozen female factory workers to either side of us.
Peter was of an age where he had been around the block a bit, so he was largely ignored by the all-female workforce, lucky for him as he could just sit back and enjoy what was to come.
The initial round was OK, the women wanted to know if we were using their tea/coffee/sugar etc.as they all clubbed together to pay for these items, once assured we had not, even though we had, the fun and games started. Initially they wanted my age, harmless enough, but then they wanted me to expose myself so that they could take measurements, suddenly I was concerned.
I noticed that one of the women on our table was much younger than the rest, I estimate she was a girl of eighteen, the focus finally moved on to her. “We call er Kojak” said one pointing to the girl, “yesh Kojak” said another who had no teeth. “Do you know why we call er Kojak” started a third who was covered in tattoos. I declined to answer as I could not and did not want to try to think of an appropriate response.
The first then said, “She’s Kojak cos’ she’s shaved, y’now down there”, I must have started to blush because the whole table went wild, with the exception of Kojak, who was looking decidedly uncomfortable.
Suddenly about three of her co-workers asked, “Do you want to see”, and gestured to the girl to stand up, Peter was drinking this in but I did not know what to say or do, suddenly the women had dragged Kojak onto the table, spilling tea and coffee everywhere, they turned her onto her back and spun her around so that her legs were towards me, without further ado, they took her knickers off and “showed” me why they called her Kojak.
I reflected later that no matter how hard my lot as an apprentice alarm engineer seemed, it was nothing by comparison to working as a young trainee bed manufacturer.
Relating this story to Clancy a few days later, he claimed that his worst nightmare was to be the only bloke on the women’s mill workers Blackpool outing coach.