Home » The House » Carran’s Working Diary 24: Writing on the Wall 1: SkEtching an apple


Carran’s Working Diary 24: Writing on the Wall 1: SkEtching an apple

Apples from Gressenhall

Apples from Gressenhall

There are etchings on the walls of prisons and workhouses that tell tales and give clues about what lies beneath.  I thought I should scratch something here about one or two things now by way of interpretation or translation to talk a bit more deeply about what has  gone into making the concert.

I thought I should begin to leave patchy etchy messages here that give you an inkling of the thinking behind the writing: unpacking the thinking so to speak, to give you a glimpse of the stuff beneath, where it came from and so on.

So let’s start with “I’ll give you an apple” or rather more correctly as each inmate has to learn: “you give me an apple”…..ie you have to do some work if you want an apple.

What’s the thinking behind apples in the concert?  Where did the apple idea come from?

It could be the bad apple idea, the apple never falling far from a tree, the old Eve and the apple garden of Eden chestnut.

But really in this case it links to pennies – spending pennies, making pennies, work, making sex work, doing something for something or really nothing.  It’s the workhouse activity collecting apples and the idea of trying to make something work out of collecting or being given, as a favour, apples which grow in the workhouse garden anyway.  Then there’s the idea that all the people in the village “bring us apples -ain’t that nice?”  Ain’t that stupid when we’ve already got f….g apples anyway but we’ll say it’s nice because we want to keep in with the people of the village…you never  know who they know….or what they can offer or more genuinely how they can help in the “mean” time. Yes it’s totally mean.

It links to the collection of leftovers from the supermarket – not the nice stuff  but the super save stuff – and of course, that way you get more. If anyone actually gives an upmarket version for example of gravy or apples or jam (said with Matron’s voice)  – say Tesco’s finest – well you could swap it for more of the super save stuff and that way the food bank gets more, (said with Funraiser’s voice)

Funraiser:  So when you’re out shopping next and you’re thinking of giving something to the poor people, those who have nothing at all,  don’t just go for the blue or yellow label or whatever – go for finest because then what we can do is, we can swap it for the cheaper brand and that way “they’ll get more”.

Have you ever had more?  Have you?  Well you can’t get more for nothing can you?

The impulse for apples came from the apple garden at Gressenhall Workhouse in Norfolk where the paupers were buried in anonymity but a corporation had sponsored that bit of the heritage site, so in  effect they were commemorated retrospectively through a heritage/corporate action but we don’t know their names: braeburn? golden delicious? granny smith’s? unless you happened to visit and you knew your ancestor had been there but what about all those hidden histories and anonymous people who had no one to visit their burial site…..well I suppose they just join all the animals.

“Well maybe that’s okay………we’re all part of nature anyway…”

“I’ll give you an apple if you show me what you’ve got…..you look nice… you look nice….oh will you come…come with me…come……..pppppooor……aaaaaaah….” and so on.


Gressenhall Workhouse Burial Ground

Gressenhall Workhouse Burial Ground

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