Picking olives gives you a lot of time to think. It also gives you a backlog of life to get on with afterwards hence a late post, but I’m still pondering so thought I’d get olives done with before harvest time comes round again.
If you haven’t picked olives, it involves spreading large nets under a tree, and knocking the fruit down with a stick. At the point where you can not go on, you must get the olives (now marbles with a life of their own) out of the net into a sack. After doing that – in my case – just six times, for reasons to do with a broken truck and the limited capacity in the Peugeot GTI, (‘ESTE NO ES UN COCHE DEL CAMPO’ the mechanic correctly tells me every month when I turn up in the recovery truck driver’s cab, the Peugeot on the back like a carnival queen, but I don’t have the €6500 for the Landrover he’s found as an alternative) . . . so, after filling six sacks and dragging them, now each one weighing 35kg, across a large, uneven field, they are loaded into the boot. Obviously with a Peugeot with broken suspension, the boot is pretty much on the ground after the first sack so that makes it easier. After a 10km drive up and down mountains, you reverse onto a grill between the lorries and vans at Nuestra Señora del Rosario Cooperativa, and, under the approving eye of Paco the conveyor belt operator, drag each sack out and empty the load. You collect a piece of paper to say well done, you’ve earned a euro, and you drive home and start again until you have accrued 1937kgs of olives and decide to give it a rest.
Anyway, among the thoughts:
The goddess Athena gave the Ancient Greeks their first olive tree. Fact. You’d think in the thousands of years since someone might have come up with a way of harvesting the fruit that was easier and calmer than hitting each olive with a long stick. But they haven’t.
The whole work and pay system is wrong. I believe I should be paid as much for picking olives as leading a Which Font Says Trust? strategy session because it’s harder. Obviously I’m not being paid at all. And regardless of what job of work I’m doing, the value of my free time is the same. I think I’m onto something and mention it to Dave who explains it’s already been done – Marxism.
Tortoise or Hare? Dave goes for tortoise; I go for hare . . . and I get a lot more done. People are always saying ‘tortoise and hare’ knowingly. But who says Aesop’s right? He just made it up.
The pleasures of working the land in time-honoured style. Apparently there are people in offices all over just dreaming of the day when they can dress up in something from a Toast catalogue and get down and dirty with a hoe or a stick or a chicken. It’s the new thing after Mindfulness. I say, come here. Also, that it’s great for the first ten minutes, and then it gets tedious.
I used to get mentally exhausted and think how nice it would be to be physically exhausted. I meant instead, rather than as well, so be careful what you wish for etc. Anyway, I have to say that physical exhaustion plays with your mind: joy, resentment, fury and Zen-like resignation . . . all at the same time. It’s like riding a bucking bronco; I understand there is a medical explanation.
Repeated actions inspire urgent, fleeting ideas. Among them move to a city, go back to films, open a cake shop, become a forensic linguist, sell cheese online, paint large paintings, revisit my inventions ledger (but abandon Jab and Go, in which you are anaethesised before flights, stacked in a container with your luggage, and delivered to your destination – something, friends remind me, is surprisingly close to what some governments already offer).
The olives were there to be harvested but would earn us very little, so was this effort rewarding or a waste of time? Turns out the years of doing non-productive things for quite a lot of money have given me a warped idea of success.
How far I’ve come from Bubbles Rothemere’s Christmas parties at Claridges. Is there any way back? Obviously, not all the way, but a little way back sometimes? Have I gone up in the world or down? Or just along? Will I ever run in heels again?
Olive-pickers’ elbow? Is that a thing? And if so, is it permanent?