by Simon Evans
‘Right then Ladies and Gents, settle down. Ladies!? Gents?! A bit of quiet please.
Welcome to Liar House. Welcome to your Volunteering Day.
Have any of you been here before?
Hmmn, a few nods. Well you’re all looking fit and ready and all set to get put through your paces.
Well, firstly I must introduce myself. My name is Ron Thatch and I’m the Deputy Liaison Warden here at Liar House. I’ve worked here in one capacity or another for over thirty five years. I started off, believe it or not, as a car park warden. I controlled the parking here for twenty two years before moving on to Guest Liaison. I’d guestimate that I’ve helped literally thousands of people park their cars in the main car park here at the house. That’s a lot of cars!
We have approximately twelve thousand visitors a year here at Liar House and – as I haven’t had a day off sick in eight years – I reckon you can gather that I’ve seen and helped most of those in one capacity or other. In fact I’d say that’s enough folks to fill a small city – all helped by yours truly!
Let me tell you a little about Liar House. The main house was built in Tudor times as a retreat for Noblemen. It was then pulled down in the Elizabethan Pussy Riots. Restored by no other than Graham Thorpe Thompson, a distant relative of Anthony Worrall Thompson, it then served as a barrack house for Gurkhas during the great French invasions which were commonplace along this stretch of coast at the time. In fact there is a tea towel in the gift shop depicting the house at this time. I have several at home and tend to give them as gifts. As you can imagine I enjoy a very healthy staff discount here at the house. Twenty five per cent no less.
Anyway, the house was then passed over to the local education authority in the time of St Bernard. The house was a keen orphanage for nearly two hundred years before it was burned to the ground by rascals and little shits. It was rebuilt painstakingly by outpatients of a local hospital who wanted a roof over their heads. They used building methods that were the norm for the time. The outpatients showed great patience as the building was gradually finished and they became patients.
The industrial revolution then saw the building commandeered by fat cats who installed noisy pistons and spinning wheels and chimneys which belched like a disgraceful uncle at a wake. When the industry in this area slumped, as all industries do, the building then became a cats home – hence the cat’s head which is used as the dot above the ‘I’ in the Liar House logo. The house was a hotel for nearly seventy years until it was bought by the Archibald Trust, who are my employers, in 1935.
So, that brings us up to date. Some of you are probably wondering what you’ve let yourself in for on this volunteering day. You will, no doubt, be all too familiar with the long, dry summer we’re experiencing. This has, I’m sure you will have noticed, created a dust problem in the grounds of the house. The dust has already been swept into piles by a group from Persil who volunteered here last Tuesday. Your role today is twofold. You will notice behind me a number of vacuum cleaners – twenty five, no less. That’s one each and two spare. The aim of today is to fetch an extension lead each and then to vacuum the piles of dust at the front and to the side of the house. You will then take the vacuums into the west field where you will empty the dust on to the ground. That should take us up to lunch. We will reconvene après luncheon and spray the dust until it becomes mud. Finish time today will be approximately 3:30pm.
Right – a few words about health and safety now. We had an incident eleven years ago where a volunteer went missing and was found asleep on a hay bale in the north barn. That lady’s name? One Janet Needles. You could say the search that day was like finding a needle on a haystack. Yes – a few giggles. And what became of said lady? Well, Janet Needles is now Mrs Janet Thatch. Yes, you’re ahead of me. She’s now my good lady wife and you can only guess at how many times I’ve dined out on that little tale.
But I don’t think we should aim for a similar close shave with destiny today ladies and gents. So, no wandering off. Stick to the cordoned areas and wear the wellington boots provided when hosing the dust.
“What was that Ron?”
“That was my talk for today, for the Volunteers. What did you think?”
“Oh, it’s fine dear, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
“I just want it to be right.”
“I’m not sure about the swearing. I’m sure there was a bit where you say ‘little shitheads’.”
“No dear, I think the phrase was ‘little shits’.”
“Still swearing though isn’t it?”
“So you want me to rewrite the whole thing?!”
“No darling, I’m sure you know best.”
“Right, I’m off.”
“See you later love.”