Nus Camp Second Time - a Memory of Leverington.
The second year we came to Leverington was 1968, June and July. We decided to air ourselves in England. Instead of two, we were three boys this time, and we came in my car. Tom knew us from last year, but it was his duty to deliver his standard speech on the rules of the camp : "This is a WORKING CAMP, NOT a HOLIDAY CAMP ! When you do not work in the fields, you can enjoy yourselves, but I don't want to find French boys and Swedish girls fooling around together in the laundry... etc... ". This speech always raised laughter among us. We tended to confuse leisure and work then. The guys and girls from eastern countries (communist lands then) DID work hard, because they could not export hard currency from their home countries, and they depended on what they earned at Leverington for their living. We did not really depend on our work, and our sole purpose was to practise English and know students from all over the world. Of course the farmers who supervised us in the immense orchards around Wisbech were not too happy with my low output and my long periods of rest, or our singing bawdy songs amid the strawberries or gooseberry bushes. But nobody was robbed : fruit picking was piecework. The fruit we had picked was weighed on scales when we brought it to the lorries.
Under the corrugated iron of our hut, the dormitory was hot when the sun was hot, and it was cold inside when the temperature outside was cold. And yet, I cannot remember laughing as often and as persistently as in that seemingly shabby place.
Standing close to our beds, my friend G. and I indulged in impersonations of political celebrities or... of Tom, and so helped our public to be happy without television.
The dining-room was also a funny place, with all the young people showing different habits and different accents. I remember two of my Portuguese pals arriving at the kitchen window with their plates for extra : "MORR IT, please" ; Then Jim took the opportunity to teach them better English ("More FOOD, please")... in his best African accent.
The best place was not the laundry (which according to Tom promised to be a love paradise), but the lounge. It was a very large dusty room with many old sunken armchairs of all styles, and most important of all, a record-player. That year, we heard Otis Redding's The Dock of the Bay' and The Stones' Jumping Jack Flash. I remember José S. R., from Spain, Renan G., the Peruvian boy, and many others moving their bodies to the sound of the Rolling Stones, dragging their feet on the flooring and raising tons of dust in the dim light of the place, and many girls sitting around the room...
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