The apple-picking is over and I’m back at Cyrus and Ruby’s after a few days reading, writing and relaxing at The Shack. In order to best describe the running buffet of emotions that is apple-picking, I would like to offer the following, the minutes of a typical day on the pommes…
7am Silence alarm clock and lie in dark room, preparing, mentally.
7.20 Get out of bed, eat stale pain au chocolat and drink tea.
7.35 Pull on waterproof trousers and place dry-socked feet in fresh plastic bags in wet boots.
7.40 Drive to orchard complaining about darkness, weather and apple-picking in general, but agreeing that it could be worse, and at least we’re not working down a mine.
8am Begin picking apples.
8.05 Continue picking apples. Essentially, pick one apple after another – two simultaneously when conditions are optimum – until all you really want to do is sell your soul to Satan in exchange for a life wherein you will never have to pick another apple again as long as you live.
8.17 Continue picking apples.
8.20 Receive first rough handling warning from hawk-eyed supervisor and orchardess, Madame du Pommes – “doucement, doucement” – despite being the most gentle, tender apple-handler since Eve.
8.30 Realise that the security of the plastic bags has once again been breached. Curse cold, sad, soaking wet feet. Regret leaving wellies in Le Buis.
8.40 Curse cold, sad, soaking wet universe as rain begins to fall in earnest.
8.45 Weep involuntarily as chemicals from apples find their way into eyes with rainwater.
9.15-11.50 Weep voluntarily as rain continues unabated. Begin eventually to fantasise about working down a mine.
11.55 Realise that you are nothing but hands, eyes and feet and that you only exist to serve an apparently widespread addiction to Golden Delicious apples; feel insignificant.
12pm Stop for lunch.
1.30 Resume the picking of apples.
1.45 Attempt to surf the tsunami of anger and bitter, bitter apple-hatred to a happier place, a place without apples, a place with waterfalls and endless, soothing sun and time, lots of glorious, empty time; fail to do so.
3pm Rejoice as sun finally comes out.
3.30 Begin to think that, you know, really, when all is said and one, there are actually worse things that one could do with one’s time, to earn nine euros an hour, minus tax.
4.30 Do a little dance because there is only one hour to go.
4.35 Receive rhythm warning from Madame du Pommes.
4.40 Realise rhythm warning was in one’s imagination and that the pommes – and the ceaseless, mindless repetition of their picking – has made of one’s brain a sad, simmering compote.
5.30 Pick last pomme. Eat it. Worry about the chemicals. Scarper.
But you know what? It was fun. On the whole. Even at the worst times, the strictly finite nature of the task gave me the wherewithal to continue in relative blitheness. At times it did feel like the worst job I’ve ever had – bar calling up pensioners and trying to get them to give their life-savings to New Labour – but at other times it wasn’t so bad. And I’m convinced it’s good to do something mind-numbing once in a while. It really is character-building. Mostly, it reminded me how incredibly lucky I am that I don’t have a proper job. And most probably never will have.
Here’s to jobs one can do at a computer, preferably in bed with a White Russian to hand.
Now I’ve got to write a couple of pitches. Wish me luck. And have a smashing weekend.
Oh, and I hope that thing works out for you. You know. That thing. You deserve it.