Day 80 – Factory girls

They follow the women inside the factory, and we see them working away, sanding and sawing, attaching various things together.

Charlie                        What are you making at the moment? These don’t look much like cabinets.

Betty               Well we wouldn’t be doing our jobs right if they did!

Eliza                Planes is more our thing. Not sure how a bunch of wardrobes would be much use to you Tommies. Store your boots in them I suppose.

Charlie            You’re vastly over estimating how many boots we have! Let alone space in the trenches.

Betty               No big furniture for you then?

Charlie            Ha ha, I don’t think so. Maybe Field Marshall Haig has some room in his office.

Eliza                Oo, don’t talk about that old bag of wind.

Vida                His name is banned around here.

Eliza                Big push. I’ll give him a big push alright.

Bea                 Now, Eliza, don’t get worked up.

Vida                We manage to stay pretty up to date with what’s happening out there. Between the papers and letters from you lot.

Charlie            But we aren’t allowed to write home about tactics. Even if we try the censors mean that kind of information would never get through.

Vida               Lucky for us Dotty has a contact in communications.

Dotty               He’s not my boyfriend!

Bea                 No one said he was Dotty.

Dotty               Sorry, I’m just so used to it.

Charlie                        Dotty, are you stringing this poor chap along?

Dotty               No, not in the least!

Vera                But if he continues to get the wrong end of the stick…

Vida                Wipe that horrified look off your face. We use what we can to our advantage – which happens to be your advantage as well. Did you never wonder that we are able to communicate so honestly with one another?

Charlie                        I thought we were just appropriate in our talk.

Vida                Oh Charlie. After all of the complaining you do?

Charlie                        I don’t complain that much!

Betty               No one blames you for it. Life in the trenches sounds ruddy awful to me.

Charlie                        (trying to change the subject) So, plains eh? For the air force?

Violet              That’s right! We build the frames here, then send them off to have the engines fitted and the covers put on.

Charlie            I was going to say, they aren’t the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. What are you using?

Violet              There’s a bit of a shortage of wood at the moment, we’ll take anything we can get our hands on. But ideally something sturdy but not too heavy.

Daisy              The thing has to get into the air remember.

Charlie                        And you enjoy it? V – you never worry about getting hurt with all of this equipment?

Bea                 Why would we worry? Much safer to be here than the munitions factory down the road – they have an explosion every other day.

Dotty               Never anything too serious mind.

Vera                Do you remember last week when Maggie lost her eyebrows?

Charlie                        How does one lose their eyebrows?!

Dotty               She was mixing some chemicals – the stuff that goes in your mines I think – and poof! Fire shoots up and burns her eyebrows right off.

Violet              She tried drawing them back on.

Vera                But she didn’t get the height quite right and she looked surprised all the time!

Katherine       Oh it was a picture. I tried not to laugh at the poor dear.

Betty               You didn’t try very hard Kath.

Katherine       It was just so funny!

They all start giggling. Eliza takes Charlie to one side.

Eliza                You asked if we enjoy it.

Charlie                        Yes.

Eliza                We do. Well, most of us do. She does. Thrives off it.

Charlie                        I can see. She’s so happy.

Eliza                But it’s not about the work really. Even if we didn’t enjoy that it wouldn’t matter.

Charlie                        What do you mean?

Daisy              (joining them) It’s like you lot. It’s not about the actual work. It’s about doing your bit.

Eliza                We can’t go off and fight.

Daisy              We don’t have shops that need to be run.

Violet              Most of us wouldn’t know how to be nurses.

Dotty               Lots of the schools have closed down.

Betty               This though, this is something that needs doing.

Bea                 So we’re doing it.

Katherine       Making ourselves useful.

Vera                Keeping the country going.

Vida                And we’re good at it. But enough of that. Come on. We need to get you packed.

Charlie            Okay. Thank you. All of you. It’s been a real privilege to see you work. To see what we’re fighting for.

Bea                 Same to you Charlie. It’s good to show off a bit.

Eliza                Stay safe Charlie.

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