Pizza Night – Monday – April

It’s pizza night on a Bank Holiday. Jack, who has been a part time barperson here since he was 17-18, for the last 10 years at least, has been organising this for a couple of months and he uses the owner’s special ovens manufactured by him. There are two ovens, so the rate of production is 2 every 8 minutes, so tonight they have at least 12 orders which will take about 40-50 minutes. Jack rolls out the pizzas on a low table that strains his back and then he adds the extras on top of the tomato base. He carries out this production in the dining room where an inset has been created by the owner to hold the two ovens and cables lead from them to a gas canister. The pizzas are very much appreciated by those who consume them and one of the regular bar staff, Tim assists with the delivery. It’s a jolly atmosphere in the dining room as friends of Jack and Tim chat and two other pairs sit, one eating, one about to order, with at least 12 in the queue. Jack slides a pizza metal base under a filled pizza pastry base and shunts it into the oven as Tim moves the heavy chili oil carafe towards another customer wiping the outside as he does so. A regular and occasional bar person here, Phil, sits on a bench adjacent to the main pizza table, sipping his wine and studying his laptop which he has plugged in to a pub socket to charge it. Tim clears a table and Jack keeps spreading tomato and cheese over his pastry bases while rubbing his back. Phil’s friend invites her brother via a phone call to come next week for a pizza who lives about 40 miles away and she tells him she will book a table but no tables are actually allowed to be booked on a Monday but she will ensure they have one. She puts a reserved note on a table in the pizza/dining room while she and Phil slip out for a cigarette. Tim and Jack crack jokes as they work continuously to deliver their orders. It’s 8pm and there are still 10 orders to be cooked. It’s a tense time when they wonder whether they will be able to meet demand or whether they will run out of bases but they take it all in their stride.

The owner arrives and has a chat with Jack who is still busy painting the pizza bases red and then perches on a bench with another customer and someone with a rucksack calls out ‘thank you’ to Jack for the pizza and they agree to meet up for a drink. People are piling in on this Bank holiday evening and someone asks if he can join Phil’s table. It is, again, a jolly atmosphere in this warm and welcoming pub, where the culture is created by the people that inhabit it.

A TV actor is spotted arriving in the dining room with his very young daughter and an older one and perches in the vacant seat the owner has vacated but they leave quickly as a table is spotted in the staff bar. Another tray of pizza bases arrive, courtesy of Tim and that means they have another 24 available so Jack will be pinned to the table for another hour or more. Phil asks if Mary, one of the staff clearing tables if she could get him another red wine and then leaps up to assist Jack as Tim has disappeared. Jack continues to chat as he cooks. There’s nowhere like the Woolpack, Slad.

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