(1939-09-02) Land Girl Extraordinaire
Details for Land Girl Extraordinaire
Summary: Katie and Gavin share some dirty work, preparing London for the looming war.
Date: 02 September 1939
Location: Green Park, London

The turmoil has taken full hold in London. Evacuation was begun a day ago, with tens of thousands already out and more still leaving by any conveyance out of the city. Adults that are staying behind have banded together, preparing for the bombings that are anticipated to begin any day. Some of the parks are suffering a bit of… re-landscaping, as dirt is liberated to fill bags to be taken to fortify locations deemed likely to be targeted. While the majority of people doing the 'dirty work' are men, there are a number of women counted among those not afraid to put a little physical effort into the war effort. One of these is Katie Hind.

To most, she's unrecognizable outside of the shop on a good day, and this cannot really be called that. She's dressed for business, wearing her brother's clothes, an old button-front shirt and a pair of trousers with the legs rolled to account for the couple inches he's already got on her. The shirttails are tucked in at the back, but the front tails are knotted at her middle, so the shirt is just a little bit less voluminous on her slight frame. A kerchief is tied around her head to keep the majority of dirt off her hair, but the flaming red still stubbornly peeks out at the back, attempts to tame it even less successful than usual with the physical work.

She's been helping to fill bags with dirt, tying them off so they can be loaded on a lorry and taken to shore up nearby police stations and offices. It's hard work, but she goes on with grim determination, her face smeared with finger-painted streaks of dirt where she's wiped sweat from her brow. A civilian supervisor calls for a break and most of the workers go to find water, or just to sit for a bit before the work starts again. Katie pauses, taking a breath and looking around at all the people gathered to help.

One of the good things about being a Royal Fusilier is the fact that even in war it takes things going very poorly for them to be shipped off as they are tasked with the defense of London. But the down side to this duty is the 4th Foot are tasked with grunt duties many other regiments are not. So it is that Gavin Ferguson comes marching in formation with his Unit. His commanding officer blows on his whistle and those of the 4th that were already here helping out collect together in formation and raise a salute to their commrades her to relieve the. A salute is snapped back in return and the officer blows his whistle again and the old helpers march with the commander back down the street to the barracks to the south. Gavin's unit then go at ease and start to spread out and take up helpful positions. Gavin removes his uniform shirt leaving him in a white undershirt as he takes up a shovel and starts to dig.

The 'changing of the grunts' captures Katie's attention, the soldiers that had been working alongside the civilians changing out for new soldiers. While there hasn't been terribly much time for talking, the ever inquisitive Katie has still managed to get to know a few of those working with her a bit, and it's a bit sad to see them march off and wonder if she'll ever see them again. A woman comes around with a bucket of water and a dipper, and Katie exchanges a few words as she takes a drink, but the conversation cuts off suddenly as a familiar face is spied. Grabbing a burlap bag, Katie begs off with the excuse of more work, and she scoots over to the new arrival as he starts digging. "Gavin!"

Gavin wasn't expecting to hear his name and he looks up and squints. Cracking a big smile it does take him a three count before he places her, "Katie!" He does the sign for <Hello.> With the shovel resting against his chest. Eyes bore into him from the leader of the effort and he pitches a guilty smile and takes up the shovel to start to fill the bag Katie's carrying.

Katie grins, signing the greeting back, and she sobers immediately as she also catches the disapproving look sent Gavin's way. She opens the bag she holds at once, moving close enough so that Gavin can get shovels of dirt into it easily. "I'm so glad t'see yeh, Gavin, I thought they might have moved yeh out of London or somethin'." She doesn't really know what he does in the service, further proven when she asks, "Are yeh gonna be sent away?"

Gavin is careful when he dumps the dirt in. Doing his upmost to make sure she doesn't get dirty. "Glad t'see yee too Katie. They could, anyday now, we dinnae really know until our boots hit where we're goin. Especially iffin things go bad real quick like it's thought they will go. How's yer shop? I could talk to my boys an' see if they mind swinging by the Chippy an'elpin' out fortifyin'." While it's probably not too noticeable, their shop has been getting hit with many more soldiers soaking up their benders when on leave at the Hind's shop. "Will you maybe write to me if I do go?"

Well, any more dirty, at any rate, since Katie hasn't been as mindful about keeping clean as she has about getting stuck into the work. Every couple of shovels she picks the bag up and drops it on the ground a few times, settling the dirt as the bag fills. "It's slow at the shop," she says, shoulders shrugging lightly. "Folks what would be comin' in are seeing theirs off or workin' like this, mostly. S'why I'm here. Mum, Da and our Jack are back seein' t'things, an' Da let me come out when I asked. If they can handle it there, I'm more needed here." She looks up, smiling at Gavin. "That's dead thoughtful, but yeh all have enough on yer hands. Only Da's feedin' soldiers that come by for cut rates, so come over when yeh can." They'd feed soldiers for free, if they didn't have to keep a roof over their heads, so they're doing it at what it costs them for the goods. "'Course I'll write yeh, Gavin. Just let me know where t'send it, an' I'll write every week if yeh want."

Gavin takes a moment to break up a large patch of more packed earth down so it can better be scooped into the bags. "That's real good of'm. The Hind family is good people." He smiles over to her and nods, "I would like tha very much. Don't have to put yourself out over it or nothin'. Just would be nice to hear from ye once in a bit. Keep my engines goin. Just send it to the barracks, they'll make sure it gets to me, where ever I might be." A tilt of the head to the south indicates he does mean those barracks. "Can keep me updated on them duck spies." A shake of the shovel is aimed at the pond in the distance.

There's a smirk, and Katie says, "Put yerself out, sez he. I'll be here safe in London, an' yeh'll be out there makin' the world safe. I think I c'n put myself out a bit." Despite the work they're doing, the preparations, the evacuations, she's still clinging to the hope that they'll be safe in London. Just because a bunch of men rattling their sabers say that bombs will fall doesn't mean they will. "I'll keep an eye on th'ducks, an' report back t'yeh, Private Ferguson," she says, with a formal touch that's all the more comical with her cheeky smile and the dirt smeared on her face.

Gavin smirks at her cheek and reaches out a hand briefly to brush at one of the more dirtier smudges on her cheek. "Ta. Though ye promise me ye'll take care round 'ere. Check in wif me if the bombs do start to drop, aye?" He is less optimistic that there won't be bombings, better safe than sorry. "And don't take any risks wif them ducks either. I'd hate it if they did anything to 'urt ye."

Katie wrinkles her nose at the touch, but compliantly tilts her head to accept it. "Aye, it's a promise, Gavin." She pauses, the grin sobering as she regards him a moment. "Yeh'll write back? So I know yer alright." With the bag nearly full Katie dips a hand into the pocket of her trousers, bringing out a length of twine. With the expertise of having done this all morning she gives the top of the bag a twist to close it, then ties it off neatly with the twine. She looks around, then gives a surprisingly shrill whistle to catch the attention of one of the men taking the bags to load on a truck. Even as she motions to him, she's turning to get another bag for Gavin to begin filling. It's like she's been doing this all her life.

Gavin breaks up some more dirt while she works at closing up their first bag. "Sure I will, so long as I'm able." Watching her work he gives a low appreciative whistle, "Look't ye, Land Girl Extraordinaire." His cheek is accompanied by a wink and a couple of wags of his eyebrows. "So iffin we aren't shipped out before then… this weekend I got leave… Thought I could treat ye to some distraction?" The peking duck was a friendly meal together, this now sounds like a true proposal for a date.

"Full o'surprises, that's me," Katie says with a laugh, holding the bag open for when Gavin has more dirt on the shovel. The question is unexpected enough that Katie looks up at the soldier, surprise written clearly on her face. "Wot… like a date?" she asks. To her there's never been any indication of that type of interest. He's older, a soldier, a man without a doubt, and she's just the chippy bird, young and inexperienced.

Gavin rubs the back of his neck giving a shrug, he's not sure how old Katie is. He'd guess early twenties and she's exactly not his usual type, which after the last relationship he had he strongly feels is probably a good thing. "Aye, like that. Or just as chums." He shrugs again clearing his throat. He pulls out his trusty pack of cigarettes to give him something to fumble with to get through the awkward.

Katie's never been one to date much, always being busy at the chip shop, but she knows her friends have been prone to going out with several blokes, if none of them had expressed intentions to be exclusive. She ponders a moment, while Gavin gets out his pack of fags, and decides on complete openness. "I've been out with Xander a time or two," you know, ants in the pants, "but we've not decided to only date each other. An' we do get on well enough," she says, motioning between herself and Gavin with one hand and a flap of the burlap sack. There's a nod, her smile curving her lips once more. "I think we'd have a grand time."

Gavin grins wide at her final decision with the cigarette between his teeth. "Well here's hoping I'm not shipped out before the weekend then. The cinema's no place relaxing to go these days," What with those Irish bombing cinemas willy nilly. "But…" He really didn't think this through to the end, not wanting to assume she was going to say yes. "…hmm… there's this pub, it's where I usually am before comin'n to the Chippy. Or… what's yer favorite food, 'sides Fish n' Chips?"

With all the news being so bad lately, Katie hasn't been one to keep up on it, and mention of the cinema gets a curious look from her. "Don't yeh like films? Xander took me t'see one, it was a musical, lots of pretty costumes an' all. I guess my favorite food is bubble and squeak, but I like t'try new things." She doesn't suppose that it makes her sound terribly adventuresome, but she's not had much opportunity to be terribly adventuresome. A glance and she sees Gavin's supervisor has taken notice of them again, and she clears her throat and gives the sack a wave, trying to catch Gavin's eye and roll her own toward the observer.

Gavin straightens up quickly getting the hint and starts to shovel heap after heap into the bag. A grin is angled towards the supervisor and a little nod is given too. A light 'oops' snerk is given at Katie when he looks back. "I.R.A. bombings. They been targeting cinemas." His voice sounds concerned, Xander (and her) that out of touch!? "Good thing nothin'appened. New things hmm, y'been to the Cliffs?" The White Cliffs of Dover of course. "They've got a grand market lots of things to look't an' do."

Katie gives the supervisor a bright smile, as if to say 'Look! Work going on here!' and it turns sheepish as her attention returns to Gavin. Sheepish holds, but there's her own level of concern in it. "I'd no idea. There's so much news about th'war that I stopped listenin'." Terrible, she knows, but there's so much bad news and how much can one girl take? "Dover?" she asks as she tamps the bag on the ground to settle it properly. "I've never been. We don't get away from the shop over much."

Gavin continues to work hard to avoid the hard scrutinizing stares of the supervisors. "Do ye live over the shop? So I know where to pick ye up? Should I come in an' talk to yer Da?" There are girls that expect that and girls that would dread that, so he's learned to ask. "It's understandable. Bad news is always hard. Only reason I keep up with it is well…" He looks over to his folded uniform. "I like a little bit of forewarning if trouble is brewing. Or else I might feel a bit Shang-hai'd."

"Aye," Katie responds, "We do live over th'shop. Only yeh don't have t'meet Da right off. I mean, he knows yeh from comin' in an' all." Which is a little bit of the problem. He doesn't like her going out with blokes from the shop, but she's never out to meet anyone because she always has to work. Her mother sees the problem and does what she can, including suggesting they hire someone in to give Katie time away. Not likely that'll happen with all the war fuss that's going on now. She nods understandingly to Gavin's take on staying up with current events. "I suppose I'm jus' tryin' not t'think about it overmuch. Still, it's like a black cloud over us all, an' hard not t'think about when yer doin' something like fillin' bags with dirt an' all." The words are serious, but there's still just a touch of light humor in the absurdity of her process.

Gavin nods his head as he pats the last scoop of dirt down into the bag, finishing this one. "There we go Land Girl." He winks to her and takes a bit of a break, leaning on the shovel that's anchored in the earth and enjoys his cigarette. "Worrying is a pointless thing. Don't ye think? I mean, it does no use to worry if a thing is going to happen or not, cause it won't swing it one way or another. And then if the thing does happen, it was going to happen so all ye can do is deal with it the best ye can. Least that's what I think about it. All it does is make a bad thing worse." Seems he doesn't think she's silly at all for her avoidance of such things. "Like the cinema, I suppose it was no more dangerous to go to than going to… King's Cross station one day to meet a friend coming in from Scotland." He points up to the still very new pink scar on his forehead close to the hairline where the shattered glass of King's Cross Station ceiling came raining down on him when the bomb went off those few weeks ago. "Ye let them black clouds gather an' block out the sun, life just isn't life then."

As Katie listens her hands move automatically, twisting the bag closed, holding it while she gets a length of twine, then ties it securely. She pauses, looking to Gavin's forehead at his gesture, seeing the line etched on his skin. "Doesn't matter where yeh are or what yer doin' when it's yer time," she says slowly, philosophically. The moment is broken when she turns her head, spies a loader and whistles sharply, waving him over. She's smiling again when she looks back to Gavin. "Best we can do is get on with it, an' let things fall as they may." Another bag is produced in what seems an endless supply. Katie flaps it open, holds it at the ready, and says with a cheerful lilt, "Only there's still things t'look forward to. That's what matters most."

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