These are reminiscences from August 1970. I worked in Butlin's Holiday Camp in Ayr for six weeks, encountering campers and staff and trying to educate
myself in the ways of the discotheque (village life had restricted my opportunities).
I propose to post diary entries on the anniversary of the day when they were made, a project which is something od an act of faith under present
circumstances. We'll see how far we can get. The thread title is the punchline of a joke which will be reported later in the narrative.
Saturday July 25th
Leaving school before the final service on Thursday, I took the afternoon bus to Ely, shared a compartment on the Peterborough train with two women,
and then up to York. On the train to Filey (changing at Seamer station), there was a girl sitting on the long seat in front of me. At the station, I
tried to find out how to get to the camp, looked at the timetable on the bus-stop, and went into town where I found two bus-shelters. The timetable
was clear enough, but when the bus, a 123 came along, the driver said he did not stop at Butlins and I needed a No.12. The other man in the
bus-shelter asked me where I wanted to go and commented “The Primrose Valley bus, there, should have been the one”, pointing at the bus which was
just departing. He added that the drivers would not stop at the camp itself- I should ask for a ticket to Primrose Valley and then get off early. The
next bus was a No.12 and I got a ticket without difficulty.
There were four girls on the bus, also for the camp. At the entrance, they spoke to a tall young man in a cap, who took me inside, telling me to press
a bell-button. The man who then came out took my letter from Butlins, and gave me an identification card (not taking a photograph because the machine
was not working), a slip for accommodation, and a pink slip for The Fry, entitling me to a late meal. He asked me if I was willing to go and work in
Ayr instead, because they were sending a coach-load of people there the next morning. Ayr was a very nice camp, he repeated, you couldn’t get lost
there as you could at Filey. He also gave me a chalet key, not bothering to take a deposit because I was only staying one night.
The chalet was very narrow, with two bunk beds, though I had it to myself. I found no place where I could plug in my shaver. The staff canteen was
just opposite, but it was only selling coffee and drinks, so I bought a coffee and sat down to re-group. I did some exploring and found it was not
really possible to get lost even at Filey It is based on three main connected parallel roads, with signs like “This is Green Camp” at intervals.
For some reason the Lost Property Office is in the Gaiety building. I came across The Fry quite quickly, and had sausage and chips, because they were
only selling chips meals. There were groups of boys going through the streets supporting Celtic. Liverpool, England, and Newcastle, alternatively or
simultaneously. There were other groups of girls, singing “I’m no English, I’m a Scot”.
Next morning I gave in my key to the girl at the office, who looked into a ledger with pencilled names and then asked me for my card, which meant that
I had to open my case and had a problem shutting it again. At eleven o’clock I reported to the Personnel Office, near the main gate, which was
filled with other boys, mostly long-haired, on the same mission. We gave our cards in, and we were each given ten shillings for extra expenses on the
journey. Then we waited all morning. There was a steady stream of other business. Two people wanted to “terminate”. They were told they had to go
their managers to explain the reason. One man came in with a case and stood at the counter to tell them he was leaving.
“Have you got your clearance form?”, he was asked. He had not.
“Do you work here?”
“No, I’m staying here. I’m off,”
“You’re a camper, are you?”
“You can do what you like then,” and he went off.
A different group wanted to get a transfer to Bognor. They were told that the Ayr transfers were a special case, and if they wanted to transfer to
another camp they would need to write to the manager of that camp. One boy came in to complain that he had been put down for transfer to Ayr without
“Don’t you want to go to Ayr?”
“Not if I can help it,” he replied, tossing his white towel in the air. He grumbled at the man who had put his name down, saying “I have to pack
this rotten job up because of him”. In fact he was not with us on the journey.
When the coach still did not appear, some went off to get some fish and chips. Finally the Welfare Officer took us down to the staff chalet area in a
couple of Butlins minivans. There was a long queue in the dining-hall all the way down, but order had been given that we were to by-pass it. As we
were eating together, a small group burst in noisily and added themselves to the end of the queue. We discovered later that these were part of the
fifteen from the Skegness camp who were to join our twelve. There was one shaggy gentleman who periodically shouted “Up your bum!”, and a very
plain girl who was equally extroverted. The coach was waiting when we got out, and we got under way at about two o’clock. The Skegness group, mostly
Scottish and the Scots mostly drunk, were giving a lot of noise from the back. Not long after we set off, one of them went up to the front to ask the
driver to stop and let him get off for a moment. The girl joined him, repeating over and over again “Stop quick for God’s sake. If you don’t
stop I’ll die-ee”. So the driver stopped, not for the last time.
We went through some hilly country and joined the A1 not far from Scotch Corner. We stopped at a transport café for twenty minutes and I had two cups
of coffee. A box of packets of ham sandwiches, thankfully without mustard, had been placed on the bus, prepared by Filey for the Filey people, though
one of the Skegness group took a packet anyway, and another one took one look at the filling and put his own packet back. We turned off at Scotch
Corner and went by the Penrith-Carlisle route. Since we were “on the Scotland road”, the girl sat at the front and led us in singing the chorus of
“Blaydon Races”- just the chorus, over and over again for mile after mile. We crossed the border after eight o’clock. So much for the Personnel
Manager’s prediction that the journey would take “three or four hours”. The driver was being begged to stop because people were dying of thirst,
but he refused to stop at a pub and could not find a café.
edit on 25-7-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)
edit on 25-7-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)