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Laurence Inman's Blog



Laurence Inman recalls the halcyon days of student jobs at Cadbury's. Get a taste of nostalgia.

My two younger kids are students. It costs me a small fortune. I don’t mind though, because it’s only fair that should have the same opportunity I had when I was their age.

Apart from the freedom from any responsibility, the endless round of crazy parties and the fact that lovely nubile girls would do things to you, willingly and with the merest of encouragement, I can’t say I miss my student days much.

During my first year I lived in a hall of residence where we were all terrorised by a maniac medical student who was fond of throwing his scalpel at people he didn’t like, which was everybody.

In the following year I lived in three separate slums. The first was burnt down by the landlord. The second actually started to crumble around us. The third was just tolerable, but after paying for beer, fags and food, (gravy and chips mostly,) I had no money left for the rent, and so ended up on friends’ floors.

My final year was ruined by the fact that I’d done no work in the previous two years.

So, as I said, apart from the drinking and sex, university life was fairly dull.

One thing I do miss though are the jobs I did in vacations. Student jobs are the pits, but the wonderful thing is you know you won’t be doing it for more than a few months.

I’ve dug graves, rolled swiss-rolls by hand, thrown mail-bags onto trains, flogged cavity wall insulation and built stage-scenery.

But the stand-by for all Brummie students was Cadbury’s.

I did it three times and each time I ended up getting the sack.

At least it gave me the material for a short-story (Kevin And The Chocolate Factory) and a poem, (about the time I put the nuts in the nut-whirls.)


Brooding on O Block Bottom

One summer at Cadbury’s

They had me down O Block Bottom

Working on the nut whirls.

First they squirted blobs of chocolate

On to a metal plate

Where the little word Cadbury was stamped backwards.

Then skinned hazel-nuts were shaken through holes

In a metal sieve

The holes exactly above the squirted blobs,

So each blob had a nut.

The metal plates in lines

Moved past me on a rubber belt

And were caught up by a rotating wheel

And another chocolate squirter squirted

And gyrated through a star-shaped hole

A perfect little molten whirl.

But, just to go back a minute,

If a blob went past me un-nutted

It was my job to reach

Into my bowl of smooth cream naked hazel-nuts

And drop one carefully on the waiting empty blob.

It hardly ever happened,

But I was ready and took pride in my task.

No whirl left me un-nutted, or no nut un-whirled,

I forget which, and the rest of the shift

I could let my mind range wide and free

Over things which at the time preoccupied me.

I was nineteen.

Blobs, holes, squirting, nuts, tight hard skins, whirls.

Somebody get me out of here!

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