I soon got fed up with exercising other people’s horses and having no money. Mr…’s daughter was the same age as me, but she didn’t work. She would just turn up at the stables in the morning if she fancied going out for a hack. She had a boyfriend and they would go off for days on end, to who knows where. I decided to get a job at the biscuit factory in the next town. You know, the one where I was going to work a few years back, but fate intervened. Well this time I ended up working the night shift. They were 10 hour shifts. A continental shift system was in operation, which meant you worked three nights on and four nights off; then four nights on and three nights off (something like that). I figured this would give me time to pursue my other interests, and more importantly the pay was relatively good - much more money than I’d ever earned before anyway. People had warned me against working at the biscuit factory, saying it was a horrible place and like slave-labour. But I thought if I didn’t like it I could just leave, so I gave it a go. I didn’t find it all that bad actually. Besides, I had ulterior motivation: I wanted to buy my own horse.
So, work at the biscuit factory: it was tedious and mind-numbingly repetitive, but doable. You had to stand facing a long conveyor belt down which travelled, at a fair pace, 8-10 rows of biscuits (I was on the chocolate biscuit line – yummy, and yes, we did eat them). As the biscuits went by, you had to take hold of a packet sized quantity and place them in the moving oblong metal slots of the wrapping machine, which was situated by the side of you. Basically, that was it. You did this all night long. But you had to do it fast, making sure you filled every slot, and with the correct amount of biscuits. If you didn’t the supervisor would yell: ‘Fill yer holes up!’ You weren’t allowed to talk, but that was pretty difficult anyway as the machines were loud and you really had to concentrate. Something often went wrong, such as the conveyor belt or the wrapping machine breaking down, or there could be quality control issues with the biscuits. When this happened we’d give a small cheer in unison and make the most of the momentary respite. We had 40 minutes break for dinner; the belt was temporarily stopped and we all marched up to the canteen. We also had shorter random five minute breaks which were called ‘nips’ - ‘Do you want to go for your nip, Sue?’ Here, someone relieved you while you went to the toilet or for a quick fag.
I did this job for about a year. During this time I left home again. I rented a room in a large Victorian house; mainly because it was conveniently situated just around the corner from the factory. There were two other women living in the house, including the owner, but I rarely saw them due to my unsociable working hours. By this time I had finished with Mr… and the hunters, but I was still exercising the big grey horse for the farmer. After work I would go to the farm and ride out for an hour or so, before returning to the house and going to bed for the rest of the day. However, this routine wasn’t to continue for much longer as something unpleasant happened down on the farm which made me not want to go there any more.
There were two young men who were farm hands. They were always friendly and said hello. One day one of them asked me out on a date. He was tall, burly, had mild acne and an aroma of cow dung about him, which was understandable under the circumstances. I didn’t really find him attractive, but he was pleasant enough and I thought he’d probably scrub up well, so I agreed to go out with him. His parents were holding some kind of a ‘do’ and I was invited to that. It turned out that they were quite well-off. Their home was an old converted something or other, to do with monks. It had beamed ceilings and about 10 bedrooms. I could tell his parents weren’t impressed when I told them I worked at the biscuit factory (I’d been there two weeks). I got the cold shoulder treatment. They obviously had high aspirations for their son; he was in the Young Farmers don't you know. Anyway, he wanted to show me around the house, so I tagged along. To cut a disagreable story short, he tried to molest me in one of the bedrooms. Like I said he was a big, heavy lad, and the only way I could get him off me was by telling him we’d do it another time, somewhere more private when his parents weren’t around. Just to clarify: I was lying here, I had no intention. Needless to say, shortly afterwards I departed that honourable abode, keeping my lips tightly pursed lest the words ‘yeah well rape won’t look too good on his CV will it?’ should escape and offend their discerning ears.
To cut a long story short: