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Wednesday November 1st 2017Tim Candler9

 

     When the railhead reached the borders of Saint Barbara, engineers soon realized that Barbarians were unsuited to the regular hours and seamless teamwork Industrial Magnets and their Investors expect from work crews. The other Saint Barbara tradition that ran contrary to industrial sense was this whole business of six days of diligence, followed by just the one day of rest. Barbarians considered this totally absurd, the diametric opposite of sacred, an entirely primitive notion and they wanted nothing to do with it. It was also the case that the residents of Saint Barbara were by nature curious and inquisitive, some shyer than others, but not that good at minding their own business and ever ready to express an opinion. In those days of course there was nothing like television or the radio, or newspapers, or cable news, or face book. Entertainment on a winter night was basically story telling, or drinking, or singing songs, the occasional potluck feast. In summer there was barn dancing, and for the more competitive, Saint Barbara had several clog-dancing leagues, people would lay bets as cloggers battled each other for the Clogger's Cup, it wasn't a big cup, it had a broken handle but it was very precious and highly revered. It's true also that the arrival of Saeed's tents and his fossil hunting were a prime source of entertainment, Barbarians didn't want to be too obvious about it, but a great deal of time was spent staring at the Prince of Oman and his entourage from a polite distance and reporting back to friends and neighbors so that everyone might have a good giggle. All of which meant the railway had to pack-in outside labor who had to be fed, watered and housed.

 

Past

     Saeed's religious advisor smelled a worm when Industrial Magnet representatives slyly announced that for reasons of security, it would probably be best if the Railway Workers temporary camp was located right next to Saeed's Camp. Saeed, who'd observed railway workers reckoned they were a pretty rough lot with appalling bathroom habits and were inclined to leer at his seamstresses. On the advice of his religious advisor the young prince instructed the Dutchman to inform Industrial Magnet representatives that this was out of the question, the Railway Workers camp was to be located at least four miles away from his own camp, he had no desire to either smell or hear them. Reluctantly Industrial Magnet representatives agreed and two things resulted from this decision. The first involved a fraternization between Railway Workers and Barbarians that resulted in what these days Industrial Magnet representatives might call an "HR Issue." In short, railway workers started turning up to work badly hung-over, sometimes didn't even bother to show up on Mondays or Tuesday, often got "sick" on Fridays and they started moaning about their pay scales being entirely inadequate to the tasks expected from them. Progress on the railway line slowed dramatically and as a result there was rumbling from investors which aggravated the Industrial Magnate who proceeded to dismiss his representatives in Saint Barbara and sent out a new batch of keen young men with briefcases all of whom were devoted to a whole bunch of new ideas. The second thing that resulted from Saeed's reluctance to have any kind of contact with Railway Workers was Owl's Bar which is still located on the bluff within easy walking distance of Saint Barbara's Halt where hand-made organic jugs of quality Home Crafted Gut-Rot can still be purchased at very reasonable prices.

 

 

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