The restaurant had fallen silent. All the guests had long gone and the kitchen that less than an hour ago had been buzzing with the hustle and bustle of a busy service now gleamed softly in the light from the Rational ovens. I eased myself out from under the wainscot and sniffed the air. No sign or scent of that smelly old black cat that’s been the bane of my life ever since I can remember. But there was something in the air, a faint waft of baking pastry and Christmas spices.
Another quick check to make sure the coast was clear and I ran across the tiled floor to the ovens, stretching up to see what was cooking. I’ve come to realise one thing about being a mouse – height is not one of our strong points; try as I might, I just couldn’t see into the oven. Then I spotted the apron hanging by the door. That was all I needed; in seconds I was up on the work surface and racing down to the far end to get as close to the ovens as possible. I looked across and stood there, open-mouthed and bathed in a golden glow. The Rational ovens, both of them, were filled from top to bottom with row upon row of mince pies!
One of those pies would be perfect to feed our family over Christmas. But how was I going to get it? I would have to wait until they were taken out of the oven and I knew that had to be soon because they were already starting to brown. Just then the buzzers went off and, a moment later, I heard footsteps approaching. I ran to hide behind a flour dredger and saw the door open as Chef came in and turned on the lights. My nose started to twitch uncontrollably. That meant only one thing; the smelly old cat had snuck in with him and was on the loose with me a long way from home and safety.
Chef dragged a big racking trolley over to the ovens and started to unload the pies. I knew I had to act now. His back was turned to me so I crept forwards to the edge of the worktop and peered over. The cat was there, right below me. I quickly ran back to the flour dredger and started to push it towards the edge. It was heavy and my feet were struggling to get a grip on the polished stainless steel, but slowly it began to move. He was unloading the second oven now, no time to loose.
Crashes and claws
With one last gargantuan (for a mouse) effort I heaved the flour dredger over the edge. First there was silence, then a crash, a yeowl from the smelly old black cat as the dredger landed on its head, covering it with flour and causing it to leap, claws out unto the chef’s back, who promptly dropped the tray of pies he was holding scattering them across the floor. The cat, now more white than black flew out of the door as the chef stepped backwards, tripping over the dredger and landing flat on his back among his Christmas mince pies. I had to get to those pies before he cleared them up. In a move that Spiderman would have been proud of, I sprinted back down the worktop, leapt across to the apron and slid to the ground.
Mince Pie Heaven
It was like mince pie heaven! The floor was strewn with steaming pies. Like a lion stalking wildebeest I picked out a straggler, a nice unbroken pie that had strayed away from the herd and had ended up under the edge of the cupboard. While chef was busy scooping up the mess, I crept out into the open and started to push my pie under the cupboard. I’d almost reached the safety of the wainscot and my secret doorway when it suddenly went dark again – I turned round to see the chef’s glowering red face peering under the cupboard. I froze – torn between my perfect Christmas pie and my freedom. The chef started to reach under, then looked me in the eye and winked. “That one’s for you little chap. Have a Happy Christmas.”
And so ends AC Services’ Christmas fun tale of a world before Environmental Health…..