Americans and their Superbowl thing

Ok I’ll admit that I don’t understand American Football like I reckon most Americans won’t understand cricket. But the day of the Superbowl Final seems a bit like Thanksgiving to me when the nation goes a bit stir-crazy about nothing very much. I mean once you take away Tom Brady and the hype and the beers and the popcorn and the cheerleaders, it’s probably got about as much actual interest for the average Joe America as the Queens Speech has for us over here.

I suppose there must be something deep in the American psyche about getting a kick out of seeing a ball flying a long way through the air. Because as far as I can see that is what this game is all about. Ok some bloke has to throw and another to catch it without being annihilated by helmeted and shoulder-bolstered bruisers but in essence it’s all about that ball flying high and far, while all the other team members appear to beat the hell out of each other.

On that note, I see that Tom Kitchin is now trying desperately to defend himself over the accusations of bullying in his restaurant. Indeed he says that some of his old chefs have been phoning up in his defence. Well all I can say is that these chefs probably weren’t in his employ when Tom and his wife were appropriating to themselves the lion’s share of the tips. It was a bit like the Montpelier Group clowns when they tried to include the tips in making up the minimum wage payment to their hard working staff. Honestly, as if these guys didn’t all make enough filthy lucre. Yuk.

Ok I have now heard first-hand from an ex-employee that he didn’t see Mr Kitchin being physically abusive, but mentally yes. And that’s possibly worse. Moreover, it’s a bit like slave labour in his restaurants by all accounts, cleverly offering salaried 60 to 70 hour, 5 day weeks but with little (if any!) breaks and a culture of ‘making or breaking you’. That’s not at all healthy and it won’t make you wealthy either, because at the end of the day you don’t end up getting much more than the minimum wage per hour by all accounts (tips included, even all deserved ones!). However some poor souls are sticking with it. Although there has been a recent exodus and I believe they are struggling to retain new staff. Well good.

To this end I have great respect for the team at Dean Banks who admirably dealt with a situation I was having at work in his Edinburgh Pompadour restaurant. Dean told me that he didn’t want that sort of thing happening in his kitchen and wanted to uphold a positive and enjoyable working environment. Well done Dean.

I served my old boss David Ross last week. He got rather a shock though when I said ‘Hi David’ as I presented his hand-dived Orkney scallop. He was indeed rather lost for words.

His is an interesting story though. His dad got him the job at Ivory and Sime back in 1968 when he was a green 16 year old. He believed he was going to work in a garage, so got rather a surprise when he pitched up at One Charlotte Square to find himself as the office boy at an up and coming Edinburgh finance house. After eighteen years though he had become MD. Ivory’s floated and he made a packet with his accrued shares and then a few years later set up Aberforth and Partners and made a further packet. Who needs a Masters in Finance from St Andrews!

Not that I’ve got one of them to be honest. Just my Desmond in economics.

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