Charli Mills has prompted us to quarry out a nuggety flash this week, thus
January 19, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a about a quarry. It can be a place or include the the by-product. The quarry can be operational, abandoned, it can be in real-tie or mentioned from another time. Where will the quarry take you? Go where the prompt leads.
My experiences of quarries is limited. I went through the usual childhood fascination with digging – sand castles, mud pies, shingle heaps and, of course, as the name suggests the Archaeologist enjoyed cliffs for what they revealed. I’ve mentioned here before the hours we spent under the unstable cliffs between Herne Bay and Reculver, looking for fossilised sharks teeth and ammonites. But quarries, per se, didn’t feature.
And then one day in the early 1990s I received a call from a colleague at work, telling me Ford Motor Company had asked if we had a mining expertise. I was a property lawyer; I’d never had anything to do with mines and minerals (well, beyond some very esoteric work on the coal privatisation, involving manorial incidents and copyhold rights… believe me, your lives are too short for me to explain). So, of course, I said ‘no problem. What do they need?’
Boreham Airfield was the Ford test track, a WW2 facility used for their racing cars. When they withdrew from racing, Ford had a redundant chunk of the Essex countryside. As it happened, what seemed like a white elephant turned out to be a gem; underneath the tarmac and concrete sat 650,000 tonnes of high grade sand and gravel, waiting to be dug out.
Ford, for all its many corporate skills, had no clue about extracting minerals, so they envisaged obtaining planning permission and then doing a joint venture with a aggregate business. Boy, did we have some fun and games. At the time the Tory government had instigated a major road building programme and house building had taken off. Sand and gravel, especially this type was builder’s gold. I had had a few instances in my career, of negotiations where my client was in a dominant position but few were as strong as this. As the jackals circled, desperate for a piece of the action we ran an auction, involving, curiously, pink sealed envelopes and best bids. The day we opened them was very exciting; even the American bean counter whose days were spent on a conference phone (or squawk box as it was called when he was on it) giving me earache, sounded both excited and pleased – ‘pleased’ being a relative state, more like he’d just ended two weeks of constipation than he’d experienced real rapture.
And from it I learnt a word, a splendid word that I’ve yet to find a way to bring into my daily conversations. A word that means:
a compactable groundcover that is composed of a mixture of clay, gravel, and sand or granite dust that produces a buff-coloured bound surface
I give you
This deserves a wider usage, people. Let it be your resolution for 2017. Find a way to bring HOGGIN to a wider public. You know it makes sense.
And my flash, this week is another look at the North family, with mother and daughter learning to cope with each other…
Rationing Information: the Teenage Years
‘We’re going to a quarry. For geography. You need to sign a form.’
‘What are you going to see?’
‘The quarry. God.’ Penny’s look spoke volumes.
‘I know. But there must…’
Penny shrugged, and turned back to her phone.
The next day, Mary heard Penny talking to Nadia. ‘It was cool. All these strata, going back millions of years. They found a dinosaur there, like whole.’
At dinner Mary asked, ‘So, how was the quarry?’
‘Like a big hole. What’s for tea?’
Mary smiled; one day they’d share things again, once they’d both grown up a bit.
And here are more instalments of the North family’s life