On the way back from a visit to a Southend-on-Sea Subcontractor, I call into the White Horse Inn at Froxfield. (known locally as the pub with no name, since the pub sign has been missing for years).

I am the first customer to arrive as the food bar opens. I order a steak lunch, and the landlady asks me how I would like it cooked. "Well done" I exclaim, having received several recently when I asked for "medium" with blood gushing out of them.

Sitting down outside in the sunshine amongst the flowers, with a cool pint of their "no-name bitter" I wait for my scrumptious lunch to arrive. Tantalising whiffs of my steak char-grilling in the kitchen out the back fill the air, making all the subsequent customers mouths water. Before long, many more people have placed orders for steak.

The birds are singing, the sky is blue, there's not a breath of wind, and all is right with the world. "Life doesn't get much better than this", I thought. Suddenly… absolute chaos! The landlady comes tearing out of the kitchen and rushes around like a headless chicken. "Fire… Fire… Fire in the kitchen", she screams. "Everyone get out of the pub!!! Phone the fire brigade!!! Grab a fire extinguisher!!!", she breathlessly shrieked in no particular order to anyone who was listening.

I'm now gutted. I've already paid for my lunch, and the chances of seeing it this day were looking extremely remote. Two fire engines turn up, and from amongst all the chaos that is now going on around me, with fireman rushing about and absolute mayhem happening inside the building, a waitress appears out of the smoke with my char-grilled steak, done to a turn. She staggers up to me like a phoenix from the ashes, slams my lunch down on to my table, and says "This is all your fault for wanting it well done". Evidently it was the char-grill that caught fire, and started the blaze… Whoops!

So I'm now sitting there, sheepishly munching into my steak, with the eyes of the world upon me. It was obvious from the hate stares emanating in my direction that I was getting the blame for their lack of lunches. Boy, did they make me feel guilty. What they did not realise is that this is just another average day for Dave Tooley. I learn to expect disasters where-ever I go, and just accept them as part of life. It just makes a change for once for it to swing in my favour.

So, for future reference it is now The White Horse at Froxfield, the pub with no name, and no kitchen!!!

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