I lived in a commune for about 9 years from age 17 to 26.
1…. I wrote a book of short stories, although they never got published it was still quite an accomplishment. One story did get published in a local literary magazine, it was about a woman whose husband had died. When it was read out at Thetford writers circle several people cried!
2...My boyfriend and I lived on a converted bus for a year (we converted it). We never managed to get more than 40 miles fom home though.
3...I spent a summer travelling around visiting other communes and housing projects in Shropshire, Leicester, Wales and Scotland.
4...I went on an epic journey travelling from Newbury to Norfolk with: two other women, two horses, two three year old girls a pot cart and a tent. We walked most of the way and it took several weeks. We met some lovely people and some not so lovely people. It is the only way to really se the countryside.
5...I learned a lot about building. Shortly before I moved in most of the house had burned down. We raised money and rebuilt it - ourselves! I tried my hand at: plasterboarding, plastering, rendering, denailing wood, fiberglass insulating walls, interior and exterior painting, varnishing, Carrying tiles up scaffolding and nailing sheets of wire mesh to clay lump walls in preparation for render.
6...I had a 21st birthday party to remember - it is still the biggest party I have been to. We had several bands and several hundred people turned up (quite a lot of gatecrashers!). At one point there were so many people on the landing that we thought that the ceiling would collapse.
7...I nurtured a love of cooking. For some reason I had not really done any cooking at home. I was thrown in at the deep end. I cooked my first full meal for 13 people aged 17 I was terrified it would go wrong.
I did a lot of cooking while I lived there - I had a captive audience, we were supposed to take turns cooking the evening meal but some of the residents were atrocious cooks and everyone was only to glad to have someone else take their slot. I cooked pickles, chutneys, jam, bread, cakes, pasties...and all on a coal fired aga.
8...My boyfriend was killed in a car accident. I was 21 at the time and it was pretty devastating. I went into a cycle of travelling round staying with friends and drinking too much.
9...I spoke at the Labour party womens conference on public transport. The labour party was still socialist in those days!
10...I had a little moped that I whizzed around the countryside on. It was great. I used to get up early on a Sunday morning and head off to the car bootsale at Banham zoo where I would buy LPs. I would pile them in the mopeds front basket. I loved riding through the countryside on an autumn morning. It wasn't much fun in the rain though - I had horrible big yellow waterproof trousers and jacket, they were very unwieldly.
11...I had a bike accident and broke my foot. I was very young and very foolish. I was on my bicycle and someone on a motor bike was pushing me along...not very clever. The speed was too much for the little wheels of my ladies bike and when he let go I lost control and went somersaulting off down the newly resurfaced road. Ouch!
12...I went to a lot of hippy fairs, gigs and ceilidhs. Some of the fairs I worked at either as site crew or with a clothes stall. I also helped to put on some of the gigs - I remember we put on a benefit concert for Greepeace in the local village hall shortly after the Rainbow Warrior was blown up.
13...After the hurricane in the 80s we were without power for several days (we used to get snowed in in winter as well!). It was fun in the evenings, we had an aga so we could still cook and we had lanterns and candles. There was one great evening wher we had a spontaneous candlelit music session evryone was playing pots and pans and anything else that they could find.
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