A day in the life of a marquee erector

Mornings begin with a 6.30am wakeup and a drive through North East Somerset towards Charlton Farm, the home of Archers Marquees.

Cars are outnumbered by sheep at this time in Somerset’s day, and, as dew burns in a haze over green hills, and yellow tractors slowly fold into the horizon, you get a pretty clear understanding of why so many people choose to hold events in the area.

It has an obvious beauty about it, the South West, and at 7am it’s time for the men who offer the best erections in the region to get to work.

Initially, the vans are loaded for the day ahead and teams are assigned to various jobs.

After the opening effort, though, a number of other issues quickly arise. The most common of which is the forgotten lunch. And, as any marquee worker know, a forgotten lunch means a day of suffering.

Suddenly the picturesque beauty of forlorn oak trees standing alone in combed farmland becomes lost in a desperate sense of panic.

How many pork pies can I really “borrow” from my mates?

Is it possible to put up a marquee running on just four Mini Cheddars?

If they’re lucky there may be time to make a quick stop for supplies, although ‘lunch forgetters’ rarely take time to remember money.

It follows, then, that their entire existence falls into the hands of their co-workers, who are only too happy to remind them of the growing swell of baked goods debt.

Despite the struggle, it’s definitely this type of situation that helps to grow camaraderie within the group.

We all understand that lifting metal legs, pushing up giant poles and pulling canvas over steel frames can be tough work, so even lunch forgetters are given the help they need.

The Best Part of the Day

After a lunch of Celery, Ginger Nuts and Ketchup, the best part of the day comes when the finishing touches are added to whatever marquee is being put up that day.

There is definitely something satisfying about transforming the inside of a heavy frame into a distinctive venue for a wedding, birthday or other important event.

Everyone has a preference when it comes to these interior jobs, although few enjoy cleaning the outside of the marquee, particularly when the inevitable summer rain pays us a visit.

Inside the marquee, some workers get on with carpeting while others prefer to be up on ladders, rigging up the electrics for lighting, heaters and catering equipment.

By the end the day most of us are happy with the end result, apart from that one kid who ran out of borrowed sandwiches at 11am.

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