The first, and some days only, priority is to get out of the damned building, even only for ten minutes. This is easier said than done:
- "I know you're just going on your lunch but..."
- "You'll have to take the back stairs, the lift's broken again."
- "Can you be sure to be back for one? We need someone to cover the 'phones."
And then there's the business of actually getting out of the building, which is built like a maze. It's generally easiest to escape via the fire escape onto Abattoir Lane but this is generally frowned upon. So that's what we do.
There are still a few butty shops left in the town centre and they're generally very good (the girl in the shop on the corner has the nicest eyes but the bread's better at the shop on Jimpo Road). These are all well and good but you then end up having to go back to the staff room for to eat them (the company's good and the banter's fun but you're still in the building and available for interrupting).
There is a staff canteen in the Town Hall. The food's OK, a bit school dinners but OK. Very few council staff actually eat in the staff canteen. By the time they get out of the office at twelve o'clock all the good stuff's been devoured by the pensioners who've been to the morning tea dance and the remainders have been prodded heavily by passing councillors.
So we scuttle off to one or other pub or tea room. For many years the favourite bolt-hole was 'The Dreaded Tankard' on Hilpot Lane. The food was cheap and excellent and the landlady, a madly-energetic little bird of a woman, fussed over us like a mother hen. We very seriously tried to make the bottle room an official meeting room but were heavily overruled by Mary.
These days we split our time between 'The Duck & Pullet,' 'The Liberty Horse' and Nancy's Tea Room. It's important to get that time out of the building.