Russell Coope: children as labourers in the field

Russell Coope recalls his children's help with fieldwork in the 1960s.

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To what extent were your family involved in field work, in other words your wife and children in coming with you? 

Oh yes, they’re very useful because they act as labourers, you know, they – particularly the children can – if you’re collecting samples, one of the snags about collecting my sediment samples is that they’re heavy and if you’ve got several small children they’re delighted in carry heavy bags off site, so yes they were used that way. Well anyhow [laughs] you try to stop them, you know, when they were that small they wanted to come and see what Dad was doing, you know. And they loved getting dirty which was another thing that was – almost a central ingredient in family enjoyment. Sometimes the children got a very weird impression of what we were going to be doing. When one of the teachers in the primary school, when the children were small, did one of these exercises in espionage that teachers would ask children to write a composition of what they did during the holidays, or the weekend. One of them asked, I think it was Robert, and what does your daddy do?  And he said, ‘He washes mud,’ which is his impression of what I spent my life doing, but it gave a very weird view from the teacher’s point of view of what I did for a living [laughs]. We didn’t keep them away very often, when there was something interesting to do. I’ve got pictures of them, for instance, you know, when they were laying drainpipes children enjoyed themselves living inside the drainpipes, and I – we didn’t believe that somehow or other that work and play should necessarily be segregated from one another, so yes they had a great time I hope.

  • Interviewee Russell Coope
  • Duration 00:01:54
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 11/24/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/63

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