Realization! The realization that things are about to change, but probably didn’t know how much things would actually change. Being told to stay at home by the company that has employed you and gave you the security you needed for the last 5 years is quite a hard pill to swallow, but I understood that it’s not the company but the government that needs this to happen.
This is something that nobody has seen before, apart from war times before I was even born. We were going into the unknown, it felt very strange indeed. So, as a chef in charge of a team, made sure everyone understood what was happening and told them I would see them soon. That, unfortunately, wasn’t the case and would be the last time I saw my team.
Like many others, I treated the first month like a holiday, did the things that I couldn’t fit in my daily day to day. Took photos, started drawing again, youtube channel and long walks, etc. But still, it was a strange feeling not being able to see anyone or get that human contact, and almost feeling guilty for not going to work. I was lucky enough to have my youngest son who was part of my bubble. I was also talking to a young lady at the time. This young lady helped me a lot through the first lockdown and I think I may have been a lot worse off without having that first lockdown contact.
As the weeks went past it was becoming apparent that many businesses were in great difficulties and many would face closure. Resorts world wasn’t what I thought, to be one of them. Unfortunately again, I was wrong. The pastry department was on the list for possible redundancies and the process had started. This was the start of my depression and anxiety, I probably wasn’t aware of it at the time as I often put troubles to the back of my mind thinking it will go away, I guess men aren’t as good about talking things out. I have always had emotional trauma in my life and never dealt with it properly until recent years, until a couple of years ago when I did start to seek help and get advice but only on a surface level.
When you have worked so hard for a company and put your life on hold for them, then get told that you are no longer needed (all be very early stages of covid), it destroys you inside. It also showed me that the big man has never cared for you as an employee and is only interested in the dollars (you mean nothing as an employee). Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of the business side of things, but to give up so easily and so abruptly, this I don’t understand…….. but that’s the way big corporate companies treat you. There is a lot to be said for small businesses and restaurants, keep them going, keep them alive and forget big chains with no souls. I would also like to say at this point that I worked with some amazing people at the resort, made some friends, and also lost some friends due to some things out of my control, but this always happens when you leave a company and you’re not there to defend yourself. This also only added to my anxiety and stress.
To cut a long story short, I received my redundancy, said my goodbyes to the most amazing pastry team I have ever worked with, and left for Cornwall, my home. The realization kicked in at this point, I was now jobless with a bit of money in the bank. No family to fall back on if I needed support at the time (this was to change later on down the road). So I needed to come up with a plan to make money and keep myself from breaking down completely. It’s a strange place being on your own, even though you aren’t on your own. Friends, family, they are always there but for some reason when you are in a self-preservation, anxious and depressed state, you can’t seem to see anything and you only feel deeply alone.
I’m going to go a little of track but still on the subject, I want to talk about my very good friend Karl Martin (who has given permission to include him in my blog).
I’ve known Karl for many years and we met at a place called Ardencote manor where we both worked, Karl as a sous chef and myself as the pastry chef. Karl was and is such a talented chef in every aspect and is also what I call a chef full of emotion. This emotion is what makes him a chef and delivers this in the food he creates, exciting, bold, and very modern cuisine. I used to love giving him advice through the times we were together, listening to his ideas with great interest, and still after we parted ways from the Ardencote, watching him grow at Old Downton Lodge where he and his team gained 4 rosettes, what an achievement!.
But it wasn’t always rosy for Karl and this is something I didn’t know or didn’t want to see. Karl had been with his wife for around ten years and married for 5 years. As most career chefs he was totally absorbed in his work, from the work itself to eating out with his wife, and would pay more attention to the food than he would with to the woman he loved. Not only that, but he was also having difficulties with issues at work, having to watch his back, not being to tell anyone off, and a massive pressure to be happy and smiley all the time (which none of us are). Eventually, Karl and his wife ended up splitting and this then caused Karl to go into deeper depression and turn to drink. He was in a very dark place.
At the time I didn’t know much about this apart from knowing about his break up. As a friend, I invited him to come to my workplace and learn some chocolate work for a couple of days, so we set a date. When the date came, Karl rang me and said he couldn’t make it and sent a colleague in his place. I was furious with him and told him to sort his life out and “MAN UP”. this is something that I shouldn’t have said and nobody wants to hear when you’re in that kind of state. I could hear the hurt in his voice but didn’t care at the time. I now know this was so wrong of me and I was so caught up in my own emotions that I totally ignored his cries for help. But, this is what the industry does to you and this is also what happened to me, my family, and my work to some degree. Only through my own darkness could I see what Karl went through, and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody. It’s great to have passion but don’t let it consume you, there’s more to life, there’s your life.
This was just a little bit for you to maybe understand that you’re not the only person struggling although it may seem it at the time and sometimes you just need to reach out for help. It’s very easy as I know to be consumed by anxiety, depression, and loneliness, but at these times we need our friends and family more than anything. Easier said than done, I know. “Love you Karl”, and you’ll be happy to know that he’s moved aboard to be close to his family and living it up.
There is no point looking into the past and the mistakes we made with friends, life, and work, we just need to learn to open our eyes, listen and have full respect for our nearest and dearest. love is the key to most things, accepting love is the difficult part too. I’m no expert on writing, emotions, and the rest so I’m trying to put things across as best I can. I will end the blog here, for now, still a lot to the story to go and I hope this is helping you reading it as it’s helping me to write it. You are not alone xx.