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"No, just mice!" An English boy in Scotland

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posted on Jul, 25 2020 @ 06:04 AM
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 his knowledge.
“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)

posted on Jul, 25 2020 @ 06:05 AM
When we reached Ayr we still had to find the camp. We stopped to ask for directions (“Where’s Butlin’s holiday camp?” “Where’s the nearest love-in?” “Up your bum!”). We tried to follow the first set of instructions, but I think we must have gone right where he said “left”, because the next person directed us back again. Once we got to the camp we found that the main gate was down a long hill from the first gate. We waited inside the reception room for a long time while they tried to sort us out. Then they took us down to the restaurant for a meal and gave us keys to our chalets. Mine is bigger than the one at Filey, with two bunks and one more bed, a space for hanging clothes and a chest of drawers. My room-mates did not arrive until about two o’clock in the morning, though I had heard voices outside earlier; “Hey, we must have left the light on.” “Is there somebody in there?” The other two were accompanied by a man called Eddie, who spoke the most incomprehensible Scotch of the three of them. He was being very voluble about some incident which had taken place previously, involving eating chicken and asking a boy if he could have a bite at his bone. He also told an anecdote from army days about going to a brothel ,and recommended the women of Dundee. Said “Top speed” several times. On departure, promised to give them an alarm call in the morning.

Their alarm was set for eight o’clock, though I was already awake. Eddie kept his promise and entered, with cries of “Feet on the floor” etc.. We went for breakfast up the stairs to the staff dining-hall. They explained to the Security Officer, who was at the top checking passes, that I had only arrived last night. At about twenty past nine I joined the others in the Personnel Office. Those who handed in cards with photographs were given cards without photographs, and I was just given back my Filey card. I also had a pink form to give to the manageress of the Catering Department. While looking around, I fell in with two others from the Filey bus and we found the place together. After being led through to her, we were sent to get a breakfast in the main dining-room (my first one had not been much of a meal anyway). Then she gave us a white slip “introducing” us to Mrs. Dowdie. From Mrs. Dowdie, we went to an office where we were given a set of three sheets to take to the clothing store. At the clothing store, they marked on these sheets the fact that we had taken out a white jacket with blue tabs and a pair of blue trousers, and we had to sign each sheet and keep one. In fact we needed to return for the trousers later, and the woman pointed out to me a pair of denims which she thought were neater. We were given the rest of the day off and will be paid for four hours.

I’ve had both lunch and tea in the staff dining-hall. In between, I came back to the chalet and found we had a new companion in place of Benny, who left this morning. It was a huge boy from Derbyshire called Jan, who had been sitting in the seat behind me all the way from Filey. He attached himself to me and we walked around the camp for a while. While he was reporting to his own manageress and dealing with his uniform, I went off by myself.

posted on Jul, 26 2020 @ 07:07 AM
Sunday July 26th

This morning I was woken up at half past six by John’s alarm. While the others went back to sleep, I got up to start work at seven o’clock. I went into the Grosvenor Restaurant (named “Grovsenor” on one of the side pillars), a little earlier than the others, and was directed to the manageress. “Hey, Bull”, she cried (to rhyme with “gull”) “have you anything for Stevie here to do the now?”, but there wasn’t. When the other Filey boys came in ,we had breakfast, stood around a little, and one was taken away. Then one of the supervisors beckoned the other three of us down to the bottom of the hall. “You will be much safer doing this,” he said. “There’s a c# standing there who’s looking for staff to go to the slops, and if he sees you standing around doing nothing, you’ll be off like a shot”. He showed us how to wrap two knives, a fork, and a spoon obliquely in a napkin, and then left us to it. New supplies of knives had to be fetched twice. The manageress warned us to keep our heads down and have a look of deep concentration on our labours. When the knives ran out altogether we polished spoons and forks. Finally the manageress came to us again; “You three are coming out to the washing-up. I told youse.”

The washing-up area is on the left behind the restaurant’s clearing area, the kitchens being to the right. The cycle begins at a bench where the dishes etc. are collected, then they go through a dish-washing machine which has containers endlessly passing through it, like a ghost train at the fair. At first there was little to do here, and we were just shifting spoons or polishing them. Two of us went with a trolley to collect two heavy trays of cutlery. However, not long after breakfast began our work really started and continued unceasingly until dinnertime. Recently-washed cutlery was dumped out of containers onto the table, and we had to dry them and put them in other containers. It seemed like a losing battle, because the pile kept getting larger as more cutlery was dumped on, no matter how much it was spread around. We seemed on the point of containing it, when it was time for a tea-break.

At half past eleven, we returned to the restaurant to eat. The supervisor who first got us into cutlery wrapping was complaining that they had been short-staffed in our absence. He said the manager who transferred us looked at the Restaurant when nothing was happening, and did not observe when it was busy. He promised that it would not happen again tomorrow morning. When we came back to the washing-up, the table was nearly within sight. It was at this time that I did some more trolley work, collecting more things from the clearing areas. Soon afterwards the heavy work started all over again. Jan joined us at this time. His hours are to be from twelve to ten, and he seems to have been permanently attached to the washing-up. We stopped for more tea and the remnants of the dinner icecream at ten past two. I got off at three o’clock today, because of the transfer, but normally I would leave work at four.

posted on Jul, 27 2020 @ 11:30 AM
Monday July 27th

At about a quarter to eight last night I went into the discotheque, which I recognised as probably the best chance of improving my social life. At the time, everybody was sitting down listening to the music. The real session was only just about to begin. The commentator began a few minutes later, putting on records for short periods and chatting between them, and eventually dropping the chat for continuous music. Only a few people were dancing at first. Gradually more and more people began to join in, and I was watching very closely. The girls’ standard action was, roughly speaking, to twist to the left, putting left foot back and right arm swinging forward, then twist to the right, putting left foot forward and right foot back. The boys’ action was more difficult to discover, partly because there were fewer of them on the floor. One thrust his pelvis back, then forward, putting his forearms forward as if throwing something over his shoulder with a spade. Another put his right foot forward a little way, left arm forward, then left foot and right arm forward a little- in fact a restrained version of marching on the spot. Others moved their bodies without moving their feet at all.

When the lights went dimmer, more people got up to dance. I thought this was my opportunity. Taking my inhibitions by the horns, I went into the middle of the crowd and danced, which was more than what most of the boys were doing. The actual step I fell into was closer to the girls’ action. The fact that I was dancing on my own was obviously something completely unheard of (I heard some of the girls talking about it afterwards), but at least from my point of view it served its purpose. At length I gave up and went back to sit down. I thought that the stage of getting a girl to dance with me had better wait for the fresh intake of girls on Saturday, since half the girls on the floor probably have my face fixed on their memory as the one who was dancing by himself. I did make one attempt after all, noticing one girl whose friends had been urging to get up, without success. So when the other girls were on the floor I sat down beside her and said “Would you like to dance with me?” “No thank you,” she said. “Why not?” “Because I’m sitting down.” So much for that. But even asking was an advance on what I’ve done before. “Self-taught” with a vengeance!

The first kissing started early, at about ten to nine, but it was much later, when “Albatross” was played, that the dances became uniformly embraces. When the girls were getting tired and sitting down, it became obvious which their favourite records were, because they all surged out onto the floor again at the first note. In the later stages tall Security men were beginning to stand around, but there was no trouble. The place closed at half past eleven.

I arrived for work at the same time this morning, but there was nothing to do until after we had breakfast. Then I was first put to spooning prunes into dishes, helped the others to shift a few tables, and there was a short lull before the real work began, which continued unceasingly until dinnertime. We had a roving commission to collect up dishes, cutlery, and cups, as soon as the customers were finished with them. These were taken to one of the windows of the clearing area. Also campers were making requests, for a jug of milk, for tomato sauce instead of H.P., for fresh cups, for a flask to be filled with tea. One lady with a tray was beginning to clear away the remains of the previous occupants of the table, so I took the load from her and annexed the tray for my own use. There were the campers who smiled and asked me how long I worked. One little girl said “Bye-Bye” to me as they left. Afterwards there were the ashtrays to be emptied into “wee boxes”, the tablecloths to be wiped, saucers to be placed on them, and finally cups when they arrived.

When we had our dinner I found myself sitting with the supervisors. They said this was the first time for a long time they had got through the work so well- they had never seen so many staff in the room before. There was some discussion about the claim that chalet maids were no longer working on staff chalets. On our own chalet, so far, the service has been irregular. Later I went with one of them to take a box back to Reception. On the way we met the Scottish girl from the bus, who talked about the fact that her wages had not yet come up from Skegness. Also some of her friends had been taken away by Security and the police during the night, nobody knew why. She was going down to Ayr police station to find out. On my first day here, in fact, I saw a man being led away by Security towards a Butlins van. He protested loudly all the time, even when he was given a gentle punch in the stomach.

When we returned, I was told to join my “two friends” again in the washing-up. We dried the small remains of the breakfast cutlery. Then, for a while, a woman ladled cups out of a large vat of hot water into a sink and we filled baskets with them. Back on the same old cutlery wiping. I was transferred at about half past two to taking out dishes from the dishwasher. As the baskets of dishes came out and round, punctuated by containers of cutlery, I took out the first four plates two at a time, unceasingly back and forth, twisting to put them on the next bench to be picked up. After this, one of the Restaurant supervisors claimed me back and got me to help with mopping the floor, squeezing out the mop into an attachment on the bucket.

I went to get my tea at a quarter to five. The staff get their meals from a hot metal stove just inside the kitchen. [These were the staff of the main campers’ dining-room on the other side of the clearing area. I got into the habit of taking evening meals with them, and they were better than the meals in the staff dining-room, where I was supposed to be.] Later I left the chalet to get a newspaper and left my key behind. First I took shelter in the staff recreation-room. At seven o’clock, knowing that John had left, I went back to the chalet on the off-chance that a new arrival might be there to let me in. I found an old age pensioner who had shifted from another chalet because he could not get on with the occupants of his previous one. He gave me his views on the whole structure of careers, recommending freelance work as being more lucrative. [I later found that he could repeat this lecture verbatim, including the hand-scribbling gesture that went with “…write your own contracts”] In the evening I looked in briefly at the discotheque and the Pig and Whistle.

edit on 27-7-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 28 2020 @ 10:35 AM
Tuesday July 28th

As yesterday, I reported at seven o’clock, but there was hardly anything to do before about eight o’clock, after our own breakfast. I helped one boy carry a large milk church up some steps in the side of the clearing area, to pour into a large urn. Breakfast was very hectic. There was always a demand for more cups. Margaret Dowdie first told me “You should never work with a tray. They only hold you back”, and later told me to use a tray to carry some things over. Then there were the tablecloths and chair-tops to be wiped and tables to be set. Dinner was more sedate than breakfast, because fewer people were coming in, and they were concentrated in the top half of the hall. All the work of brushing and cleaning the floor was ended not long before tea, even though it was done more thoroughly (chairs placed upside-down on tables before starting).

posted on Jul, 29 2020 @ 11:26 AM
Wednesday July 29th

Last night I went to the staff bar for a bit of writing, then to the indoor swimming pool. The changing rooms are marked Lads and Lasses. There is a very long pool with a steeply sloping floor. The “six foot” mark is not far from one end, and the space where I can stand on the bottom is small compared with the rest of it. Two twelve year-old girls started flirting with me, I don’t know why. Perhaps they were in lunch yesterday. They were certainly in breakfast this morning. One of them made a little scream when she looked round at me, and later one pushed the other towards me saying “There’s your boyfriend”. We took no notice of each other for a while, then when they were swimming past me one said to the other “Ah’m going to make friends with ma wee cousin”. (“Cousin” here, I have found, can simply mean “friend”) So they set about systematically doing just that. First, as I was standing against the side, one pushed the other against me until she said “Would you move away and let us pass, please.” As I moved and they went round, they organised it so that the legs of one brushed against mine. In fact it was “Julie Hare and Julie Germany” all over again, but bolder. This happened a couple more times, then one threw a plastic floating ring at me and I threw it back. After I swam the width three more times, they cornered me and began firing questions at me.

“I come from Scotland. Where do you come from? Are you eighteen? Are you twenty-one? Are you married? I’m married. My husband’s name is Peter. Do you know Rabbie Burns, the greatest poet in the world? Rabbie Burns is my uncle. Do you like Celtic?” This last question was also applied to half the Celtic and Scotland teams and their respective managers in turn. “Where do you come from?” I have long ago, in this country, given up trying to say “near Ely in Cambridgeshire”, and for Scottish purposes say “near Cambridge”. “Do you go to university? Are you a teacher? No? I’ll keep standing beside you, then.” Eventually a whistle was blown and everybody had to get out.

Early this morning I was moving cutlery from one end of the Restaurant to the other, and getting more cutlery from the wash-up. Even though any attempt to do this is greeted with a scream of “Aah, ye canna take that!” I brought some yellow plates from there, albeit the wrong kind of yellow. Then I was filling the glasses on the tables with napkins and helping to fold some more. For the greater part of breakfast I was collecting tickets from the people who came in, detaching them from their little books if they had not already done so. One couple brought in Tuesday’s tickets as well, which they said they had forgotten at the time. Then I went back on normal work. There is an old woman who always talks with me when I’m working. Once when I took two piles of plates from her table she said “Now clap your hands”, and since then greets me with “You’re still not clapping your hands”.

After we had our own dinner, I was sent into the clearing area to help put out the sweet. There was a backlog to start with, because the food had not arrived, then for a while I was putting portions of tart onto plates. They were already cut into four inside the foil plate, in such uneven proportions that my instincts as a “table-head” revolted, and I did my best to rectify it. At least when I was serving food at school, I only used to have a slight bias to the left side, which meant that the largest piece was in one corner and the smallest in the opposite corner. I switched to pouring custard, and then a large dish of plums was brought along, which we were supposed to put out instead of the tart. One gentleman insisted on the tart. Trying to serve both caused another blockage, so the manageress came along and told us to drop the tart altogether. I was sent later to remove an empty milk churn and fetch a full one from the far end of the kitchen. Then I was told to go to the kitchen and ask for some more custard.
“Where is it for?”
“The Grosvenor.”
“They should have a bowl in there. Bring it in and I’ll give you a wee drop”, adding as he filled the bowl “They’ll only want a wee drop at the Grosvenor.”

posted on Jul, 30 2020 @ 02:04 PM
Thursday July 30th

Last night I went swimming briefly, up to the staff recreation room for a lager, out to get some fish and chips, and to the television room to see the News at Ten.

My first work this morning was to help collect cutlery, plates and cups from the wash-up area. After breakfast, I was told to serve the plates of bacon, sausage and egg at the far end of the breakfast queue, taking them from the portable Jackson. There was none there, so I was sent to fetch one. The man went to discuss, and told me that he would bring one at about nine. There was nothing to do for about an hour, since before the rush built up the people were taking their food from the other end of the line. When , at about ten to nine, I saw people entering my end of the line, I went to him again on my own initiative. He brought one and connected it up with much hissing of steam from pipes. [These machines for keeping food hot were called Jacksons, and so described on a notice on the wall, and the man in charge of them was addressed as “Mr. Jackson”. Presumably one was nicknamed after the other, but I never discovered which way round.]

Soon I really began to work, because there was nobody else in my half of the line. I was simultaneously taking out rolls and putting them on plates, with butter, filling plates with cornflakes, and taking racks of hot plates out, with more steam, and serving at three separate windows, going round the Jackson each time. If people wanted tea, I told them to go to the other end. Then I began to run out of cornflakes, having to go and get some more boxes from up the aisle; to run out of buns, having to go to the far end of the kitchen and finding there were none left; and to run out of hot plates, having to fetch them from the Jackson at the other end. That was a hectic half hour or so. When the last people had come in and most had gone out, I returned to normal work. I later wiped half the chairs, was transferred to sweeping the floor, and then told to clear the area where I had been serving. After dinner I was lent to the washroom for more cutlery wiping.

posted on Jul, 31 2020 @ 11:03 AM
Friday July 31st

Last night after tea I went up to the staff recreation room. Charlie from the Restaurant was there, and I accompanied him to see “’Till Death Do Us Part” for a short time, until it was time for the staff bingo session held in the indoor swimming pool’s building. The numbers were called out without a microphone until they could get the system working. They did not have any elaborate system of calls. Apart from referring to multiples of ten as “blind”, numbers under ten as “by itself”, using “legs eleven”, “one dozen”, “top of the shop” for ninety, and the “all the twos” business, they satisfied themselves with repeating the digits of a number. The prize for a “House” was £2/11/-. I was close to that. I only needed the 5, and when she began “by itself…”, I was poised, but my luck was not in.

Afterwards we went to the Redcoat variety show, called for some reason “Yubba-dubba-doo”. The chorus was weak, because their voices did not reach the microphone if they were moving around. There were a couple of sketches, and songs from “Fiddler on the Roof”. “I was born under a wandering star” was sung by Archie, the Redcoat with dark glasses whose job is to wander through the dining-rooms and say “All right?” There was a man in a kilt telling jokes. There was one about a boarding-house landlady in a posh area of Glasgow (obviously not, because people laughed when he named it). A man came to the door looking for a room, and asked “Are there any rates?”, and she replied “No, just mice”. Charlie was very taken by this joke, and he’s kept repeating it since.

This morning before breakfast I was putting a tea-bag in each of many tea-pots. We did not leave work until four o’clock, later than usual, because Margaret insisted on putting the chairs up on the tables and doing the floor all over again

posted on Aug, 1 2020 @ 09:11 AM
Saturday August 1st

Breakfast for the campers began early today because they were nearly all leaving, I was given a couple of tips, one for six shillings, one for 5/6. In contrast lunch was slack. Most of the staff seemed to have gone off somewhere else, but only about half a dozen tables were occupied at once, and Charlie and I could deal with each one as it was finished. The unoccupied far end already had its chairs up and was already being swept and mopped. But this work had to be repeated because more tables were being brought in, and the tables re-organised, as we’re getting nine hundred campers next week instead of this week’s six hundred.

It is a relief to be able finally to get on a holiday without the rest of the family… [I think I redact these paragraphs]

Last night I went swimming between seven and a quarter to eight, then passed through the Continental bar, out and to the nearby coffee bar. This I found to be a kind of café with a small ballroom attached, which was not exactly what I had in mind, so after drinking my coffee I went back to the discotheque. My lesson this week was “How to ask a girl to dance”. I observed carefully as before. To begin with, the vast majority of girls were dancing with each other. Boys stood in groups around the edge of a crowd peering into it. At intervals a couple of them would make a determined dive through the centre. It is useful to hunt in pairs in order to have a partner for each girl, if two girls are dancing together. A single boy has more chance of detaching a girl from a larger group. Though I did once overhear “There’s a large group of them in the middle. We’ll need more people.” When the request is made to a girl already dancing, as it usually is, then it is not spoken. A tap on the arm or similar touch is enough. The girl is not likely to refuse.

Later I went to the staff bar to check a certain notice. It said that although staff are allowed into the Chinese Restaurant, they are not allowed into the Beachcomber bars. These are all on the ground floor of the Stuart building, which suggests that our right to the top floor is not in question. I went up there and bought a hot-dog, and found it was just a larger ballroom. I went into the Amusement Arcade. I put a penny in the Monte Carlo machine. Nothing happened. I pushed the reject button and two pennies came out. I put one of them back in. Nothing happened. I pressed the reject button. Nothing happened. I turned a handle at the side, the machine whirred for a second, and ten pennies came out. I decided to stop right there and went to the discotheque for more education.

While I was sitting there, I observed two boys standing in front of me. One disappeared into the crowd, and the other, abandoned, made a sudden dash at a couple of girls and almost rudely (by any other standards) took one as his partner. The second girl danced by herself briefly, but there were other girls around her in a moment. There were two girls sitting next to me. A boy asked one of them to dance, and almost immediately held her close. She seemed to resist (the view was a little obscured during the crisis) but gave in, left him a little later, and the girls took their bags and went off. Another seated girl got up when she was approached with “Are you waiting for someone to dance with?”

posted on Aug, 2 2020 @ 11:07 AM
Sunday August 2nd

Today we began with the new clientele at breakfast. One woman said to me “You’re a very busy boy, aren’t you” and later “You’ll make some man a good housewife one day, son.” After breakfast I was emptying ashtrays into a wee box, collecting the marmalades, sweeping the floor, and then transferred to wiping up cutlery for half an hour before lunch. The numbers in lunch were lower and could be kept in one half of the hall, while a ladies’ football team occupied some of the tables in the other half.

Margaret was not in a good mood all day. Finally, when there were still two tables occupied, there was a stand-up Scotch argument between her and Charlie, which started when he hurled his broom down on the floor (“Who threw that?”). He was telling her off about the way she tells us off. He said we were too frightened to open our mouths. As he remarked to us afterwards, “This is no the pyramids.” The sequel was that a woman blue-coat came round and asked each one of us if we wanted a transfer to another department, as Charlie had claimed. In the end, there was only one. As if for punishment, though we had finished clearing up at five past three, we had half an hour of folding serviettes and another half hour of putting them into glasses, to make sure we did not get out before the official time.

I’m gradually getting to know the other staff in the Grosvenor. Margaret may be often ready with the tongue, but she’s always ready to use her own hands in case of necessity, and does not just stand around giving orders, as some people would. Charlie Nelson and John Hamilton are slightly older Scotsmen (thirties?), similar in some ways, but with a certain rivalry between them. They’re both fond of talking about the Christmas; greeting someone with “How’s your Christmas?”; giving a toast as “Here’s the skin off your Christmas”. [this was explained to me as follows; “Christmas” short for “Christmas hamper”; rhyming slang for “Champer”; short for “Championship belt”; rhyming slang for “welt”; the connecting link to the final meaning was left unexplained] John is prone to switching on a funny voice and telling people “You’re cracking up.” There’s a younger Scot trying to get into university, and two Irishmen. The long-haired supervisor Colin is Cumbrian, and Tom Digby is a Londoner. The three who came with me from Filey, including “Tudd” Tuddenham, are Yorkshiremen [and fellow-students at Nottingham University], and another Yorkshireman, John Heywood, was here when we arrived.

As for the chalet; Jan is full of talk about the good life (despite his massive bulk), drinking with his mates until late, getting to bed on Saturdays at three o’clock. The actual occupations that I’ve seen here are his stamp-collecting and the reading of science-fiction novels. I think he spent last night at the staff bar. He thinks I pronounce my words perfectly, in comparison with his own Derbyshire slur. I was struck, as we walked around on the first day, when he looked over at the clock and exclaimed “Ey-up, it’s hayve three!” I thought “Ey-oop” was only on television. The old man’s wife and his sister’s family appeared momentarily last night. He told me once that he did not like the Stuart ballroom because it was full of families. In other places you knew you would be dancing with a single girl, but there it could easily be somebody else’s wife.

posted on Aug, 3 2020 @ 11:55 AM
Monday August 3rd

I went to the discotheque again last night. While I sat at first, I saw several quite plain examples, right in front of me, of the classic “two boys on two girls” move, but that wasn’t what I was after. Later I got up and joined the fringe watchers. After picking on a girl in check skirt and white sweater, dancing with a couple of others, I decided that I would try when the next record began, but she chose that moment to sit down. Instead I went to a girl in a pink dress with a white bodice and short puffy sleeves, dancing with a smaller one. I touched her on one of the sleeves, and it worked! The other was about to go off, but was picked up by another boy. As the music came to an end, she smiled and said something, but I don’t know what it was. I danced with another one, and she looked sideways, downwards, in fact anywhere but at me, but this seems to be a normal practice. I was thinking of going back to the first girl, who had just got up again, when the announcer declared a ten-minute rest from dancing.

When the dancing re-started, I was standing not far from the door, when a boy in a suit came up to me and said “Shall we ask a pair of them to dance?” Perhaps he picked on me as the only other tie-wearing boy in sight. “All right,” I said, “which ones?” I was better prepared for this moment than I had been for “Talk to this young lady…” at Manchester. We tried three couples in turn without success. My chosen girl in the third pair just said “Get lost!” from the other side of her back. When “Albatross” began playing, everybody went into a hug, we gave up the quest and sat down. Afterwards we tried again, and managed to get a couple of dances, but we both eventually gave up when the slow music started once more. The next stage in my education will have to be “Chatting up the birds”, which will be more difficult to learn by observation because conversations are quite inaudible. I couldn’t even hear what the other boy was saying to his own partner.

Breakfast and lunch today was work as normal. Before breakfast I was putting out the milk, and was told to count the teapots, to make sure we had no more than our allotted 175. I counted up to 156 before being told to stop.

posted on Aug, 4 2020 @ 11:20 AM
Tuesday August 4th

Last night I went swimming, to the staff bar until after the B.B.C. news, and to the discotheque for a short time.

This morning was concerned totally with tea. First I was putting out the milk and had to help get a new churn. After our breakfast I was helping Ron with tea-making. Everybody around here talks about “mashing” tea, which to me is something done to potatoes. We put jets of hot water into the pots, from the three pipes on the urn, and put the pots through one window, collecting used pots at another window, also supplied extra jugs of milk. Next the milk jugs had to be washed in a sink of hot water- there are a hundred ways to get scalded in this job- while the tea-pots had to be emptied and placed on trolleys. Then I swept our side of the clearing area. When I was outside in the dining-hall, Ron put his head through the window;
“Find us a mop, will you, chuck.”
“I’ve seen one inside there, somewhere.”
“A couple of lads are using them on their side at the moment”.
So I fetched a mop. Then he advised me to grab a bucket which Colin was working near, telling me to hurry up, when I hesitated. But when I got inside with it, Colin called out “Hey, Jim, pass that back here!”, and reclaimed his own.
“The trouble with you” said Ron “is that you’re too slow.”
“Do your own dirty work, then.” I told him. He fetched a bucket, I mopped one end of our side of the clearing area, and he had a cup of coffee ready for me which I drank while he mopped the other half.

While we were eating our dinner there was a little commotion outside, and we rushed out to see what was happening. A gang of white-jacket workers from the main dining-rooms were carrying a blue-coat, the unpopular short one, over to the outdoor swimming pool just opposite. Other blue-coats rushed after them crying “Put him down, or you’ll all get the sack!” It was in vain, because he was dumped into a shallow part and everybody went back inside.

After that, I was put to serving out ice-cream, taking boxes from the freezer, taking one of the four blocks inside each box, and cutting it into four along the grooves, the putting a couple of wafers on each. We were limited to twenty boxes. When the first batch of ten were about to run out, Colin fetched some more, and in the end took four of them back. The last box disappeared under the attentions of rapacious members of staff, who blithely ignore the fact that the freezer is out of bounds. They often use it to cool a jug of orange juice for our own drinking.

posted on Aug, 5 2020 @ 11:02 AM
Wednesday August 5th

It was a very hot day yesterday. I went down to the field for a little reading and writing in the sun. This morning a lady asked me for a couple of plates of porridge, so I discovered where to find it in the kitchen. After breakfast the wages for the catering section were given out. At first the man could not find mine. It was finally discovered that the number given on my staff card [which was my Filey card, of course] was not my real number as shown on other documents, and the packet was found; £7/14/- gross, something over six pounds after insurance deductions.

There was a great argument because the Grosvenor staff were being paid this amount instead of the higher wage of dining-hall porters. The wages men said we were not really dining-hall porters, and this was our proper wage on the schedule. Our people said they had previously been paid the higher sum, so this amounted to an unannounced wage cut. They were told the higher sum had been a mistake. They said they worked the hours of dining-hall porters and more, even if they were not in the main dining-hall. Margaret is going to take up our cause.

posted on Aug, 6 2020 @ 12:44 PM
Thursday August 6th

Yesterday evening again I spent on the field in the sun. At breakfast I fetched porridge and fish, for two people, from their respective sites in the kitchen. It’s becoming regular, now, that somebody gives me a tip at lunchtime for fetching jam.
[From my letters home; “I have had over a pound of tips in the last week, half of it from a Lancashire family. When one of the men is half-way through his lunch, he will beckon me over and in tones of mock complaint he demands, to the giggles of other members “Where’s the jam? There you are skipping around the room and there’s no jam on the table!” We are only supposed to have marmalade, and that for breakfast, but there are a couple of pots of jam in the second drawer down, so I fetch one and he says “You’re a good lad” and slips me two shillings.”]

posted on Aug, 7 2020 @ 11:11 AM
Friday August 7th

Last night I went down to the field for a while, then I was thirsty. The staff bar was empty, being prepared for the dance, so I went to the Pig and Whistle. Then I went to see the film “Pillow Talk” and met Jan, and we returned to the staff bar. The billiards and table-tennis tables had been pushed back, creating a space for dancing. The style of dancing varied from wild hugging and twisting at one end of the scale, to a more formal holding of partner with one arm and holding out the other. He draw for a raffle was being held in the middle, but it was not easy to hear the announcements.

Today was a quieter day at work. Colin sent me to help Tom McKenna on the slops for half an hour, but there was so little extra for him to do that he abandoned his post, and after fifteen minutes I returned to the floor myself and left him to it. We finished early and spent the last half hour mostly sitting around and talking, after a brief session when the others had been pushing each other in the pool.

Tonight I first went swimming, and then spent some time in our chalet talking to Jan. At his suggestion we went out to the Amusement Arcade. We saw the end of “Jeux sans Frontieres” in the television room, and then he went to get some fish and chips. I waited outside and wandered up the street a bit, but he had vanished when I got back. I finally found him on returning to the chalet. “I had to get out in a hurry”, he said. “I wasn’t going to let them get away with charging 4/6 so I brought this.” And he held up a bottle of tomato sauce. He has an amazing capacity for calmly considering wogging things on a large scale. Apparently his whole school are like that. [“Wogging”=”Thieving”- no longer politically correct]

posted on Aug, 8 2020 @ 10:57 AM
Saturday August 8th

Breakfast began early this morning. One couple were already eating when I arrived. Colin put me onto putting out the cornflakes and the prunes, and I quickly had some cornflakes myself. About half-way through Tudd was sent to relieve me and I went out on the floor. A little later John Hamilton told me to give Tom Digby a hand with the slops, which I did. It was not long before Margaret put her head through the window and demanded “Who put you on that?” Then she called John Hamilton over and told him to take over from me, saying “I give the orders around here, not you.”

Following on from the dispute about the wages, a bluecoat had told Margaret that from now on we should work the hours shown by the notice on the wall. That is, we should work solidly until 10.30, have an hour’s break, and work solidly until a second break, before “Final prep and clean down”. We found that this pattern wasn’t conducive to getting the work done properly, which is why it normally gets ignored. The first break was breakfast for some of us, breakfast and lunch combined for others, and we spent the time talking and arguing. Resuming work at 11.30 did not give us enough time to complete clearing up from breakfast. Only the tables on the near side of the central barrier were ready when the campers started arriving. The tables and floor on the other side of the barrier were filthy. So Charlie and I cleared up around the few campers who came in, while the others were sorting out the rest of the room. On a normal day, when the whole room is in use, it could not have been done.

After lunch Margaret called us together and told us that she had been to the office and “put in her termination”. She had told the management that if she was going to run the Grosvenor, it would be run her way. She did not mind what hours were done as long as the work was done and the place was kept clean the way she liked it. They yielded to that, so from tomorrow we’re back on the old pattern.

Tonight I went to the discotheque at half past eight, with not very encouraging results. I waited half an hour before the room was crowded enough for me to get up, and I was nearly an hour hanging around the edges at various point of the compass. The first girl I tried went on dancing with her girl partner. I danced with another and then waited some more. A third girl was dancing with another; as some of them do, they were turning their backs on their partners, and that meant, in her case, turning towards me. On being asked, she just pointed to her present girl partner, without any rudeness. I found another girl to dance with, who was singing the song to herself as we danced. A fifth girl refused, and she was probably the same girl as the first. I think she said to the other two girls “it’s that boy again”, at which point I decided it was about time I went home.

posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 11:37 AM
Sunday August 9th

Today we worked as normal. Margaret was called upon to taste some cream which the others claimed was bad. She thought it was all right, but it got changed later. Once work was finished, we held a birthday party for Colin and Tudd, who have their nineteenth and twenty-first birthdays today. Three of the small tables were brought together and set for fourteen of us. It was filled with plates of little sandwiches, or squares of toast with fillings, some biscuits and Penguins. Margaret had not been successful in getting champagne or even sherry. She was going to take a photograph with John Heywood’s camera, but the bulb would not flash. So we ate the salad and drank some tea and mostly restrained ourselves from touching the rest of the food until Margaret had found the official camp photographer to take a picture of us around the table. They each had a birthday card signed by all of us. Then jackets were removed and they were escorted out to the pool in the slight drizzle. Tudd was taken to the boards and invited to jump off the top one, while Colin was just pushed in from the side.

posted on Aug, 10 2020 @ 11:04 AM
Monday August 10th

Last night I went up to the Pig and Whistle and was sitting alone for a while, until Ron came along and took me to the alcove where the birthday celebrations were continuing. There were the three Yorkshire lads, Ron, Tudd, and Woofy, three of their friends from elsewhere in the camp, together with Charlie and Mike Beggan. Professional singers were performing most of the time, but every now and then someone from the audience got up to act. Charlie put his name down to be one of the singers and he was called up onto the stage. Before he began, the fact of Tudd’s twenty-first birthday was announced, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday”. Charlie sang two songs, and as soon as he had finished Colin and his own gang of mates came to join us.

Tudd had a pile of matches on the windowsill behind him, which he moved from one end to the other as he drank, and he asked me to count them . There were nineteen broken ones, standing for shorts, and four long ones, standing for pints. He told me that he was very glad I had come to see him on his twenty-first, because on his twenty-first he wanted everybody he knew at work to be there. He was a bum and a waster, but he hoped I would remember that day. When I counted the drinks, he said that I should disown him because he was as pissed as a c#, and likely to get more so. Everybody said it would do me good to come out and have a drink with the lads, and urged me to drink up and get it down my neck. Frankly, I still don’t see much in it. Last night’s would have been a very empty affair without the singing from the stage. John Hamilton failed to turn up at all because he was asleep in his chalet, for which reason Charlie was calling him “dirty pig” all day today.

Much later they got Tudd to go up on stage to sing, while Charlie accompanied him on the piano. “I think that’s his agent coming with him”, said the announcer. He sang competently, though not strongly, but his voice was adequately reinforced from our own alcove. When he came down he said to us “You b#, you f# b#”. A little after ten we transferred to the Stuart. Ron poured part of his pint into my glass and told me to drink it down before we went. In the Stuart, there was a flurry to buy some more drinks. Ron borrowed two shillings from me in case there wasn’t enough money, and when he brought the drinks back he gave me the change, which turned out to be two and threepence. The bar closed at once, so I did not have to get any more in (I could feel my legs a little weak as we went up the stairs). Colin’s gang did not come with us, Charlie and Mike had left before we transferred.

One of the waitresses from the Wallace dining-room joined us, Eleanor from New Zealand. She knows me, because one day when I was having my tea in the Wallace, as I always do and as I should not, she was introducing a newcomer to the other staff. When she came to me, she was obliged to say “I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name”, so I told her. We all talked for a while and then went to sit down at one of the tables. Tudd immediately dropped his head into his arms and stayed like that. Eleanor brought the rest of us some coffee. The others told her they were planning to emigrate to Australia, so they talked about that. Woofy was bemoaning the fact that this could expose him to being drafted. This got them onto the war in Vietnam, and when the argument between Woofy and a pro-war friend was getting too loud, Eleanor left. When I found that even my marvellous expanding bladder could last no longer, I left too. The others came noisily back to the adjacent chalet a little later, singing “Yellow Submarine”, extra-loud on the words;
“And our friends are all aboard,

This morning Margaret was telling us that our wok in the Grosvenor is getting more insecure. Next week there will only be about a hundred campers in, who could all sit down without any necessity for re-setting the tables. Therefore three people will need to be transferred to the kitchen tomorrow, and three more will go to the wash-up at the end of the week.

posted on Aug, 11 2020 @ 11:51 AM
Tuesday August 11th

Last night I had an rendezvous with Charlie and Mike Beggan in the staff bar (Charlie was messing about with the piano). After a while we went to the Gaiety Theatre, avoiding the long queue by going in at the side-entrance, because Charlie deals with the doorman at breakfast-time. It was mostly singing, one singer playing the accordion and another being accompanied by a saxophone. There was the one main comedian, who involved others in a couple of sketches. Afterwards we returned to the staff bar. We played darts for a while, no particular game, just throwing the darts at the board in turn. My only success was in the last throw, when I was aiming for 20 and hit a Bull. Two other men were sitting down talking to us for a while, and an old woman came along and began tinkering with the piano. Another old woman came up, rather drunk, abusing the first one for being a bad player, and urging Charlie to play the piano instead. In fact he and the first woman played a duet. We went down to the television theatre to see the news, and Mike stayed there because he wanted to watch the Celtic game later.

posted on Aug, 12 2020 @ 11:26 AM
Wednesday August 12th

Yesterday was my day off. In the morning I walked both directions of the beach. After dinner, when I went into the Grosvenor to collect my copy of the Birthday photograph, Jan and I caught a minibus into Ayr. There were five other passengers. As we went out, the driver said to one of the Security men “They say they’re all staff, do you want to check them?”, but he did not. The driver explained that they were supposed to charge more(two shillings a person) for a mixed load of staff and campers. We were dropped in Ayr, and led by me we went exploring. When we found the Menzies which I was looking for (though I did not say so), we dived in. I got some writing paper. I could not afford things like “The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst” or “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross” on the money I had with me, but I bought “Scotland; Kirk and People” for 12/6. For the money it was rather too short and superficial. I expected more. We moved back towards the beach. On the way, at Jan’s suggestion, we stopped at a pub and read a little. The beach was cold. Jan took some photographs. Next we went into a nearby fair, which he called a wake. There were the usual things, involving movement, or target practice, or the penny machines. These machines were labelled as “Modern Amusements”, but they included the moving clown’s head which drops balls into slots, which even Teignmouth pier abandoned ages ago. Then we caught a bus back to camp.

I had tea, saw the film “The Last of the Fast Guns”, and went into the discotheque. I was feeling discouraged with asking girls already dancing, but there was a girl in a white dress who stood by the door for half an hour. I tried to see if she was with any of the boys who sometimes stood near her, but not as far as I could tell. However, on being asked, she shook her head with a smile. Whether she was with a boy after all, or too shy to dance, or what, I don’t know. Then the process had to begin all over again. The trouble with that discotheque is that it is too small. There isn’t any room to escape the sight of people who might recognise me.

There was another girl later who looked more my type, the “family girl” type. She was dancing, when she danced, with a little girl, who looked like a sister, while an older woman who might be their mother looked on. When I went up to her she smiled and agreed. The little girl sat on a nearby seat and watched us.
“Is that your sister who was dancing with you?” I asked.
“No, that’s my niece. And over there is my older sister.”
In a little while a little boy came over to us and looked up.
“And that’s my nephew.”
“Does he want a dance after me?”
“He’s going to fight you for me.”
When we finished, she smiled and said “Thank you very much”. Definitely. I waited a couple of records and asked again, but unfortunately they were gathering their things together.
“I’m just leaving” she cried. “Thank you very much.”
With any luck she might be there tonight.

There was also some variety in the dancing last night. While records like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Hare Krishna” were being played, groups of people sat in a circle on the floor and clapped their hands, while the more orthodox youngsters looked on nonplussed. Another group went snaking in a chain round the edge of the floor.

Today we began having some extra assistance from the dining-rooms next door, including Eleanor. Also an Isabella, who is completely new to the job. She was being teased by the others when she wondered if the tea-bags were already in the pots. They tried to get me a few days ago. John Johnson tried to tell me that Jimmy Jackson wanted a bucket of steam for his machine, but I told him that since I didn’t know where to find any, he’d better fetch it himself. At the beginning of lunch, the newcomers stood at the hatches wondering what they were supposed to do. They could hardly be blamed, because what needed to be done was already being done by those in the know, but there was plenty for them to do later.

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