Friday, March 17, 2006

Broken backs and slapped wrists

I'm not very good with jokes but I like this one.

Q. What do you get hanging from apple trees.
A. Sore Arms.

Silly isn't it? It reminds me of my apple picking days, in Ireland back in '96.

I'd arrived in Dublin just about a week before, I hadn't been intending on going there, I just ended up there. I hung out and drunk and before long I completely ran out of money. There was an ad in the hostel I was staying for a job picking apples, and as there wasn't much else I could do, I showed up at the meeting point and was taken to the farm.

There were a bunch of other pickers there, who were like me, people who were just travelling around, and mostly Australian. A slightly odd guy called Alistair, another Australian girl who's name I don't remember but for purposes here I will call Jane. Two other Australian guys, a Spanish couple and Delroy from London.

The actual picking apples part sucked. We worked all day, reaching up and bending over, and it was wet and cold a lot of the time. The evenings were fun though. We had our own section of the house where all the men slept and we had our kitchen and TV and living area. Jane and I shared a room down the hall.

We all made pretty good friends. We worked half a day on Saturday and not on Sunday so on the weekends we went to the village pub. The first night we were there we got to know pretty much everyone. People seemed to quite like us, I suppose we were a novelty to them.

We all got to know each other pretty well, and mostly got along. On the second Friday we went to the pub. We all drank a lot that night. The only thing I remember about it is Jane hogging the jukebox and making us listen to an hour of Meatloaf.

We went home in a group. I didn't even notice that anyone wasn't with us. One of the locals, Damo, walked home with us, I didn't think anything of it.

We all hung around in the TV room for a while until some of the guys wanted to go to sleep, so I wandered off with Damo, and he came to my room with me. The rest I'm not going to go into detail about.

A few hours later I got woken up by the phone ringing. I wasn't about to get up and answer it, and no one else did so it just rang. Later on I was woken up again by a drunk sniffling Jane coming into the room and going to bed. She didn't notice I wasn't alone, and possibly wouldn't have cared.

Damo left quietly in the morning and we all got up to do our half day's work. We were all so hungover we just slouched around, telling jokes and throwing apples around. Nobody got any work done.

When the workday was over the lady of the house came to talk to us. We were in trouble. She was rather miffed that we'd gotten nothing done that day. And there was more. Alistair and Jane had not come home with us, and they'd gotten separated from each other and got lost. I don't remember what happened to Alistair or how he got home, but the person who called in the middle of the night was Jane. She had also, in a drunken desperation, knocked on a bunch of doors to ask people where the farm was.

It was bad, she was pissed, but it was pretty much a slap on the wrist and a "don't do it again" we got. Not a single person seemed to be aware that a local had spent the night in the house, so I didn't bother to burden them with the knowledge.

Some people stayed and worked on for another week or so, but I left the next Monday, back to Dublin to work in a shitty bar job instead of a shitty farm job.


Denny Shane said...

I would NEVER, ever work on a farm, picking anything over working in a pub. At least the pickings were much better at the pub! well, except at closing when the pickings got kinda desparate! lol

Anonymous said... V:
I grew up on a farm, part of the time, and I thought it was great. It is a completely different way of life. My family are cotton farmers in Texas.