Guest author: Sally Cronin – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story

My thanks to Sue for kindly hosting my post today about the odd jobs I have enjoyed and some of the characters who now populate my stories. I hope you all enjoy this memory of mine.

Odd Jobs and Characters – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story by Sally Cronin

The steak house I was working in, as I pointed out in my previous post, was cheap and cheerful. You could go out as a family on a Saturday night, and if I remember correctly you would get a prawn cocktail, steak, chips and peas and an ice-cream for under £5.00.

Portion control was ferociously maintained with specifically sized scoops for the chips and peas, ensuring that every portion that went out was identical. This was the only way to protect the slender profit margins, although because we made guests wait for an hour at least, during peak times, we made it up on sherry and beer sales.

As a trainee manager, one of my jobs was the weekly stock take. I would begin after the last orders had been served from the kitchens at 9.30pm, heading into the large walk in coolers that held the fresh produce before checking the upright freezers. Every steak was exactly the same weight, as were the chicken halves. Large bags of prawns, frozen chips and peas that had already been opened, had to be weighed and noted in my large A3 stocktaking book. I also had to count the number of sauce bottles, salt and other condiments, as well as noting rejected food that had been returned.

After stock checking in the kitchens, I would head down to the cellars, where our back up stocks were kept in freezers and shelves, and count every packet and box.

I would then climb up three flights of stairs to the office in the attic of this 1820’s building; leaving the other staff to clear up the bars and restaurants, I would gather all the collected food receipts from the week and tally the number of meals for each course we had served. For example: the most popular meal of rump steak, chips and peas.

I would use the stock take totals from the week before, adding in deliveries of the various ingredients during the week; giving me a starting balance. I would then deduct the number of steaks, chicken or fish meals that had been served, which should leave me with same amount I had just counted.

If that figure was out by even one steak, half a chicken or piece of battered cod, I would need to go back downstairs and check.

That in itself was not such a problem, but the same applied to the chips and the peas. Each scoop of peas served to a customer weighed 2 ounces. I would calculate the number of meals served (virtually all of them), multiplying that number by 2 ounces to reach the total weight of peas used during the week. Being peas rather than the more expensive main ingredient options, there was a little more latitude in the discrepancy, but more than 16 ounces, and I would have to go and investigate further.

As you can imagine, doing all this manually was a mammoth task. It was a Sunday night getting on for midnight, after a very long week of fourteen to sixteen hour days. I was already tired and it was easy to miss a handful of peas or chips!

The office in the attic was not very welcoming; being rather grim and chilly. After a few weeks, I began to notice that about an hour into my calculations, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. Even more disconcerting was that I felt I was being watched.

I tried not to be a baby about it and put it down to draughts in the roof and through old windows. But I really began to dread that Sunday night chore that left me alone in the office.

One of our regular customers at lunchtime was an old soldier of ninety, who interestingly, had been one of the first men up the Khyber Pass on a motorbike. (As you can guess he has featured as a character in one of my stories). He used to potter in around mid-day and have a large schooner of medium sherry. I was due my break around that time, and I would often join him with my coffee and listen to his war stories. He had some fabulous tales to tell, and one day I asked him if he knew the history of the house as he had been living in the area most of his life. The conversation went something like this.

‘Seen her have you?’ He whispered.

‘Seen who?’ I whispered back.

‘His wife, she haunts the place you know.’ He looked around him to ensure that no one else was within earshot.

‘Don’t want to scare the customers away do we?’ He cackled away into his sherry while I tried to decide if he was having a joke at my expense.

‘The man who built this place was a rich merchant.’ He continued swiftly.

‘After a few years he fell in love with a widow and tried to get his wife to leave him.’
He paused for effect.

‘When she refused, he locked her into the room at the end of the attic and starved her to death, then married the other one.’

Looking across the bar he swayed slightly in his seat and went quiet. I checked to see if he was still breathing.

‘Never forgave him, she didn’t, and has been haunting upstairs ever since. Must have annoyed her something rotten having starved to death and then them turn it into a bleeding steak house.’

He was laughing his head off and kept patting my hand as he rocked back and forth.

I still don’t know if this was the truth, but from that time on I would never sit in the office on my own on a Sunday night, bribing one of the other assistants to sit with me. Interestingly, after a couple of weeks they said the place must be very draughty as they got the shivers, and the hair stood up on the back of their neck!

Thank you Sue for letting me share your wonderful blog today.

All the previous posts in the series can be found in this directory with links to my host’s blog

About Sally Cronin

My name is Sally Cronin and after working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition.

I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released ten others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.

Find and follow Sally

Smorgasbordinvitation Blog

Amazon author page     Twitter     Facebook

My latest book – What’s in a Name? – Volume Two.

Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them. Romance, revenge and sacrifice all play their part in the lives of these characters.Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.

My other books

All books are available on Sally’s  Amazon author page

Thank you for dropping in.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Books, fiction, food, Guest post, Humour, Life, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Guest author: Sally Cronin – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story

  1. What a completely amazing tale, Sally and Sue. A wonderful read after a long first day back at work.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you very much Sue.. delighted to be here as a guest and encourage others to accept your kind invitation too.. hugs x


  3. Ritu says:

    What a brilliant tale Sally!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mary Smith says:

    Great story, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Eeww… I had a boyfriend, whose mother’s spirit inhabited the attic in his house. She HATED ME. If he left the attic door open, she would mess with me something fierce. #ShakeItOffGirl

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Poor lady! We lived in a haunted house when I was growing up. My bedroom was in the basement at the front of the house and there was a large yard light outside that lit the room at night. Except sometimes I’d wake up and not be able to see the fingers in front of my face! And yes, the light was on. I’d feel along the walls, my heart ready to burst, until I found the stairs, scramble up and then stand there breathing heavily as I stared at the light glowing like normal. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night on the sofa!
    Another time we had sat down to dinner as a family and the recyclable bottles standing beside the fridge fell over and rolled across the kitchen!
    I definitely believe in ghosts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh poor you Jacquie.. how awful and I would never have gone to sleep at all. I do believe that houses have an atmosphere and there are a couple that we have viewed over the years that I could not spend time in let alone live in them.. cold, dank despite being freshly decorated etc. Especially older houses that have absorbed the emotions of those living in them. This house in Ireland despite its neglect and lack of light due to the overgrown garden felt very warm and inviting.. we later found out it was an airbnb for ten years for stag and hen parties……don’t ask! xxx

      Liked by 3 people

  8. jenanita01 says:

    Lovely, story, and more than a bit chilly, Sally!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jennie says:

    I love this story, Sally. Hard work would be an understatement. I certainly believe the old man’s tale.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a story. True or not it had the hairs on the back of my neck tingling. Loved it Sally. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. dgkaye says:

    So scary Sal. You’re a braver girl than I am. I would have run for the hills. LOL xoxo ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  12. jjspina says:

    That’s fascinating, Sally! I got goosebumps just reading it! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It was fun reading this story again. Wonderful warm writing, Sally. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Adele Marie says:

    Well, the rotten scoundrel, starving his first wife to death. I hope she haunted him to his grave. Fantastic, Sally and thanks, Sue, for hosting. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: Guest author: Sally Cronin – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  16. Fabulous story Sally. It sounds an arduous task trying to tally all the figures, and sitting alone in a creepy attic room with a hungry ghost cannot have helped your concentration!! 😱😱😱😱

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you, Sue, for hosting Sally. Thank you, Sally, for this story.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. paulandruss says:

    Sue and Sally… a truly haunting tale… no pun intended.. and a thoroughly enjoyable one!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. paulandruss says:

    Dear Sue, I don’t know what is going wrong but though I get notifications every day these haven’t been coming through. Really glad I have managed to catch-up with these two. It is a brilliant series
    Paul x

    Liked by 1 person

  20. blondieaka says:

    A well told tale which had me shivering and it’s warm here…Was it true ir not? Was he pulling your leg ? Who knows but why the shivers? mmmmm

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Pingback: Smorgasbord Reblog – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Steak House part two hosted by Sue Vincent | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  22. carmens007 says:

    I always enjoy a ghost story and I enjoyed this one. I do believe in ghosts and there is a haunted hause in my native town, too.
    This story as well as the collection of short stories Sally wrote show us a non-fiction author can also excel in fiction. She possesses a gift in creating lovely stories.
    Thanks ladies for the post!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Sally, you gave me chills with this one! I never feel comfortable in really old homes. Never experienced anything scary, it just feels a little creepy. Thanks for another gem of a story! 🙂
    Always a joy to visit, Sue. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I don’t think I’ve read a true story that contains, a ghost, steak, chips, peas, prawn cocktail, and ice cream, all for under a fiver, Sally. 😀
    Great story. I wonder if she still haunts the place, or if the building is still there?

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Ancestry DNA Results, Ultimate Bucket List and Black Cats | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  26. This sends chills down my spine, mostly because the fact Sally reviled to me, I am now living opposite this haunted steak house! It’s called Beefeater nowadays. Since you told me Sally, I am sometimes looking into the upper small windows where I think the attic will be, and wonder if I may spot a pale face there….. brrrrr. So great to know a bit of the local history, and if this story is true, the poor women suffered a horrible fate!

    Liked by 1 person

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