Monday, 22 September 2014

Damson picking

As an undergraduate in the early 'Sixties, I spent weeks picking damsons for Henry Usborne at Totterdown on the left bank of the Avon just above Evesham. On my first morning up the ladder, someone walked along and addressed the picker in the next tree: he answered, and it was the unmistakeable voice of Richard Grey, but what was he doing in Worcestershire?

One and threepence a basket was the pay rate, hardly sufficient for a minimum wage, but worth it to be part of a youth scene that I sadly lacked at home at Arrow, 45 minutes away by bus. I frequently slept over, and we would sit in the loft listening to Cliff Richard singing Living Doll. One evening Julian drove us in the Land Rover to the Oxford Playhouse to see John Osborne's Epitaph for George Dillon, and another day we bumped along the track from Seven Springs to visit Little Needlehole: he was a friend of Caspar John's family, who rented it.

This afternoon, Caroline and I drove to Duntisbourne Leer for some lower-level damson picking, and we were allowed to give the mulberry tree a gentle shake too.

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