England 12

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 40s

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 1950s

PLACE OF BIRTH: Fens, Lincolnshire

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: white

OCCUPATION: professional

EDUCATION: N/A

AREA(S) OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS: N/A

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH: N/A

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Paul Meier

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 2000

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

Certainly from, from the *Second World War *onwards really until, um, mechanization really took over in *the late sixties, *the Fens themselves heavily relied on *both male and female labour *for the intensive farming. *I mean in England it’s the most intensive and still is the most intensive agricultural area. And most of the women were employed through *what were known as “gang masters.” And these were just individuals that set up, engaged the women, and took them from farm to farm. The gang master would, um, draw up a contract with the farmer to carry out whatever the work *was. Most of the women would *be engaged in things like, um, carrot-digging, onions, *celery. Two, two types of agricultural work fo… for the women: um, what we call “day work” which w… was a set rate per hour or per day, or “piece work,” as it was known, where the farmer would quote a price for digging a, say, a ton of carrots, and if you were a little bit better at it, a little bit faster, then you earned more money. But most of the women, as I say, th… they were stuck with gang masters and they, they were bound by a *day work basis. I would think, I mean where we lived in in Chatteris, a population of about, in the sixties it would have been five and a half thou…, something like, something like, um, eighty percent of the working population were, even as late as the mid sixties, engaged in agriculture. Most of the women would be picked up in transport vans at about 6 in the morning. They would get home about half 3 in the afternoon, so most of them worked about a nine- to ten-hour day on the land. In the s… school holidays the m… many of the gang masters allowed them to take their children with them, and the children would spend the day in the field with them. And the the older children, i.e., the the teenagers from sort of from 11 perhaps to 14, 15, they, they would work with their mothers and do what we called a “retch.” Um, if they were digging carrots or, um, onions, then each woman would have an allocated area to dig or to pull the onions and lay them out in rows for *cutting later, and the children would have a half retch alongside thei… their mothers. Retch, it’s *R-E-T-C-H. It it it’s a Fen word used to describe an agreed area of land to be, um, dug, of carrots or whatever the, um, cultivation is there. And you would take, you’d take your “dockie” with you. That that is a Fen word that I’ve never heard in any other part of the country. Um, your dockie, *spelt I think D-O-C-K-I-E, was your lunch. And I think it derives from a Victorian word really, but certainly I’ve never heard it anywhere outside of the Fens, and theory has it that it, um, it came about from the days when the men folk were docked *an amount of pay during their lunch break. And so dockie time was a period where, you know, you weren’t earning money. You’d take it in a dockie bag and and most, y… your lunch most days, or your dockie most days, would be a “hunch,” which would be a loaf of bread *cut in half, and one half would be hollowed out and in that you would have, um, a piece of butter and cheese, the two halves joined together again, put in your dockie bag and then, when you ate it, you ate it with a knife, cut off pieces as as you, um, wanted.
[* = vocal pause]

TRANSCRIBED BY: Kevin Flynn

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 2005

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

Subject has a mild dialect. This is a professional man who describes some of the Fenland agricultural practices. It’s a good background for Caryl Churchill’s “Fen.”

COMMENTARY BY: Paul Meier

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 2000

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