Wage: £10 per shift

Age: 15

IF you drank in the Peter Pan Social Club around about 1996 and woke up with the shits after eating a dodgy burger, it’s probably my fault.

I worked in the van with the lady I babysat for. Sometimes there was another mate with me and we had the best craic. There were no rules and every shift resulted in a story or two.

fr ted caravan

The van looked like the one from Fr Ted and was powered by about ten extension leads. We ran them from the car park security hut, through a rusty hole in the shutter and into the van. The security man was given a tenner back hander and whatever he wanted to eat. Hail, rain or shine the power supply was exposed to the elements with a flattened burger box for cover. The fryer was lit with a huge gas cannister on the back. I used to turn the gas on and off, sometimes while smoking a feg.

Looking back, I was at my most independent yet reckless. I don’t know how I survived.

There was no hand washing facility and I can’t remember ever using baby wipes. There was none of that alcohol hand gel either. It would have been enough to give a food safety inspector a buckle in their eye. That’s why I don’t eat anywhere unless it’s got at least a four score on the door.

One night we had a visit from a passing RUC foot patrol on their way back to the nearby Springfield Road Police Station. They asked to see a traders licence and we all started laughing. They knew and we knew this was a bullshit exercise with them scoping out who was working there.

It had a steady trade. Before the drunks got out, we fed the taxi drivers, Blackstaff Bingo ladies and the young ones standing at the corner with bottles of cider. It was fun until some arsehole shook the van and tried to tipple it over. On another occasion, someone lit a banger and threw it inside. This is probably why I’m bad with my nerves.

The Peter Pan Social Club was on the site of the old Barney Hughes’ Bakery. It was the place to be. It catered for the too old to rave crowd and the drink was cheap. Acts such as The Beautiful Tracey Brothers, Jimmy Yamaha and Sexy Sam’s Disco bunged the place out every weekend. And when you’ve got hungry drunk people, you’ll get a dodgy burger van.

I loved observing how drunk men attempted to woo drunk women. They offered to buy them a chip and then suggested the possibility of walking them home. I don’t think this mating ritual has changed very much, it just takes place in a different decade outside a different venue with a different kid dishing out the food poison.

old bakery from future Belfast website.jpg
The Springfield Road as it used to be.  Image from Future Belfast website.  Visit the site for information on this new soon to be housing estate
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