The Strawberry Jam Factory
We slept in shacks that reminded me of the hen house we had at home when I was a little girl. Food was basic- breakfast was a toppling pile of sliced bread and extremely greasy margarine, slathered on both sides, and a cup of brown stuff that I couldn't work out whether it was tea or coffee, but it tasted better with sugar, whatever it was. A French traveller made us rice'n'onions for an evening meal.
We discovered that you made most money working night shifts at the factory on the conveyor belt.
There had been a glut of strawberries that year and a lot of them had gone rotten on the plants; the ones we had to sort through were also semi-rotten, and you were supposed to pick the baddies off the conveyor belt and throw them in bins behind you. The only problem was that they were so rotten that your finger went straight through them in one grisly splodge, so off they went into the giant churns at the end of the conveyor, along with the masses of earwigs that nobody wanted to touch.
When the churn was full, they opened the door at the end of the factory and dragged it out, where men in white suits and face masks sprayed a chemical into the churns that smelled so strong you couldn't breathe and you were left gasping.
The French boys fell asleep as they stood there on the production line, and the foreman bawled them out.
'Get out of my faaarktry!!', he bellowed into the huge neon-lit cavern.
When me and Cathy went to the toilet at half-time, we noticed our noses had turned into strawberries.
Odd Fact: we made friends with the French traveller, who had very few teeth, but was fun. He told us he travelled round Europe, picking fruit, and was going to Scotland next for the raspberries. So we invited him to stay, as we lived on the way.
I got a call one night from a young man in Sunderland, asking for Kathy's number on behalf of the French traveller (I later discovered that this was my friend Richard doing the guy a favour: what a coincidence!). I gave him her number and directions to her house. Of course, to get her revenge, she sent him on to my house, where the McParents took it al in their stride, apart from when he refused to help McMum do the washing up, as men don't do that sort of thing. He slept on the couch downstairs and at five in the morning he left, never to be seen again.