How did the local people react to the pickers?
2000 Londoners arriving in a small Kent village for 6 weeks meant lots of preparations had to be made.
What do you think were the problems with two different groups of people living and working in the same village?
Preparations for the arrival of the pickers were mainly at the local shops and pubs. In the shops all supplies were put behind wire screens so they couldn’t be stolen. Pubs were often spilt into two bars – one for the pickers with no carpet and basic chairs and tables and one, regular, bar for the locals.
Read this extract from 'The collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell':
2 to 19 September 1931
Besides all these regular pickers there were the "home dwellers", i.e. local people who pick at odd times, chiefly for the fun of it. They are mostly farmer's wives and the like, and as a rule, they and the regular pickers loathe one another. Most of the local people seemed to look on us as dirt, and the shopkeepers were very insolent, though between us we must have spent several hundred pounds in the village...
There were uproarious scenes in the village on Saturdays, for the people who had money used to get well drunk, and it needed the police to get them out of the pub. I have no doubt the local residents thought us a nasty vulgar lot, but I could not help feeling that is was rather good for a dull village to have this invasion of cockneys once a year...
What does the writer think about the local people? Do you think he felt more sympathy for the local people or the pickers? What does he think causes the problems?
Now read this extract from the book 'Hopping Down in Kent'
When they arrived in Kent in their noisy, often noisome multitudes, local people took precautions against various types of contamination. Shop-keepers put their wares behind chicken wire; publicans put away their good glasses and brought out the cut down beer bottles that were plenty good enough for the hoppers. Cottagers were careful - as they had no need to be throughout the rest of the year - to lock their doors and close their windows when they left home... And everywhere there tended to be a stronger-than-usual smell of... parasite deterrents surrounding the local people...
What does 'contamination' and 'parasite deterrents' mean? What does this extract tell you about what people in Kent thought of the Londoners? Do you think this is true? Why? Why do you think some people may have felt threatened by the Londoners?
Imagine you are a local Kent shopkeeper. How would you prepare for 2000 strangers arriving in your village?