Work clothes this morning as we are to move the house if not into the 21st century then at least into the late 20th century. The apply named Pozzo Nero or black hole is to be replaced with a proper septic tank system with a soak away and all the trimmings. I even have plans for the soak away garden but that is much further down the track as it were.
Today was digging the big hole for the primary tank and another for the secondary tank plus the trench for the soak away pipe to run through. Of course digging in the true sense of the word this is not. A bloody great digger was towed in by the operator to do the hard work and my role was more support. In other words make the coffee and fetch stuff like tape measures etc. Hugely important of course and allowed me blue sky thinking time which I was so adept at pretending to do when in management along with plenty of big picture reviews but no, no actual spade work.
I haven’t done any labouring work since I was 15 and got an Easter holiday job digging the Slough Reservoir. On day one armed with shovels my friend and I found ourselves all alone at the bottom of an huge cavernous hole with not another soul around . We seemed to be literally digging it ourselves. However it appeared we had merely missed the call for a tea break.
I had no idea that there were rules to digging on building sites. Firstly you can never sit down , you have set time limits for leaning on the shovel and apart from these ultra short breaks you go at it all the time. Everyone else on the site was Irish and old hands at the work. By the end of the first day I was shattered and the ganger informed me that I hadn’t done enough, too much leaning time not enough digging time. I was moved to cement mixing which entailed marching up a sand and then a gravel mountain behind a large electric shovel and then opening a silo to put the cement into the world’s largest or so it looked, cement mixer. This was considered “light ” or sissy work and so I had to make the tea at all three breaks as well. I lasted just 2 weeks and then was fired. However I was making £20 a week in 1963 which to a 15 year old was a fortune and went back to school a millionaire.
Today was a much easier first day, and after 6 hours we had an hole
Difficult to convey the depth but it is 2 metres down so a real hole. In fact I am tempted to cover it in leaves this evening and see what I catch. At least I didn’t offer advice like this guy as to where it should be.
Hard labour starts tomorrow I am told as the plastic septic tanks need to be surrounded by sand to protect them in the hole and because the guy who bought the sand and gravel couldn’t get close to our hole because after all the rain we have had this last weekend it is too muddy. So it means wheelbarrows at dawn. I haven’t told my new gaffer that I also failed the wheelbarrow exam at the Slough Reservoir . Not enough load in it you something something posh git, I seem to remember the gaffer telling me as he moved me to yet another duty.
Strangely enough the water man who tops up our tank in the summer is the sandman. He takes the tank off the truck and fills the now empty truck with sand and gravel during the winter months. I often wondered what he did in winter. Clearly I was wrong in assuming that with the prices he charges in the summer he spends the time sunning himself in the Caribbean though he does get to see quite a bit of sand.
I am hoping not to be demoted to coffee goffer tomorrow but maybe after two of three goes at pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand through the mud to the hole I shall be begging to be fired from my unpaid job. Maybe it will rain do you think?