Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life at Ullenwood 5: doing the chores ...

Every morning four people did not go to site but were kept at camp for the course of the morning to do the chores.  

The chores for a hundred people take a reasonable amount of  effort and were extensive: 

washing up after breakfast;
making the sandwiches for lunch;
vegetable prep for the chefs: ceaseless mountains of potato peelings (Crickley diggers will remember that we had to pay £10 a week for food);
cleaning the mess hall;
sweeping the dormitories;
beating the mattresses which were horribly dusty; 
washing the basins showers and lavatories; and
sweeping the ablutions block. 

It is sobering to think in these days where en suite bathrooms are commonplace, not just in hotels but in private houses, that between more than 100 of us we shared (I think!) 7 basins, 5 lavatories and 2 showers.  

I do recall a two day period, I think in 1979 when the drains blocked a long way down Greenway Lane, the gradient of which is minimal, which mean that occasional obstructions did occur. I assisted in the rodding out of the drain and it took a couple of hundred feet of rods screwed together before we managed to clear the blockage. 

In the meantime, we could not even use the ablutions blocks which lead to me and Flt. Lt. Southwood throwing buckets of cold water straight from the standpipe outside Lofty's house over one another and anyone else who was up for this rather spartan form of washing.  Needs must but I'm not sure I'd be up for such a bracing method these days.

A number of us of both sexes were engaged in this activity when Richard Savage arrived knowing that some parents were about to heave into view delivering, with some hesitation their 17 year old daughter to Ullenwood. For reasons that I can't begin to understand Richard thought that a clutch of naked, semi-naked, wet and muddy diggers might not give quite the impression that we wished to project to the parents: so he bundled about six of into the back of the Landrover and threw a tarpaulin over us while he greeted the 17 year old and her parents and welcomed them to Ullenwood, showed them round and assured them that no harm would come to her.  I don't think they noticed the shaking of the Landrover as a motley pile of wet diggers suppressed their giggles.

1 comment:

KateJ said...

If this was in 1980 (rather then the 1979 you have), then I rather fear that the 17 year old was me. I do recall Richard being there to greet myself and my parents and I was deposited in the very far end female dorm. I was actually only 16 and very scared and nervous about what I'd let myself in for!The next day the very first person I met was JP...