Regulations provide for no holiday

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Postby island » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:37 pm

-----from THE Story Of The Sea, 1895

Keepers of lighthouses on shore have much smaller wages—£4 11s. 8d. per month for the chief man, and less for his assistant. Each lighthouse will have two men in charge as a rule, and their work is hard enough. The night is divided into three watches—(1) from sunset to 11 P.m.; (2) from 11 P.m. to 4 A.m.; and (3) from 4 A.m. to 8 A.m. The lamps will be lit in winter as early as 3.15 P.m. At 8 in the morning the man who has taken the last watch calls his mate, and both set to work to clean up the lamps, brass, panes, etc., and if this be properly done it will take them till noon. The men have also to look after the painting, the japanning of the iron-work, the mowing of the small lawn around the lighthouse, and all necessary repairs, besides having to look after their own cottages. Unhappily, the regulations provide for no holiday throughout the year, and any man who wishes to be away must pay the railway fare of his substitute, even if the Trinity House grants him leave. The reason why, when the situation admits, the keepers live in cottages outside the lighthouse, is to avoid dust, which is most injurious to the delicate apparatus of the light-room. Great cleanliness is enforced in all that belongs to a lighthouse.

Eighty years ago the elder Stevenson wrote: "It is the most painful thing that can occur to me to have an angry correspondence with any of the keepers, and, when I come to the lighthouse, instead of having the satisfaction to meet them with approbation and welcome their family, it is distressing when one is obliged to put on a most angry countenance and demeanour."

"This painful obligation," wrote his late famous grandson, Robert Louis Stevenson, "has been hereditary in my race. I have myself, on a perfectly amateur and unauthorised inspection of the Turnberry Point, bent my brows upon the keeper on the question of storm-panes; and felt a keen pang of self-reproach when we went downstairs again, and I found he was making a coffin for his infant child, and then regained my equanimity with the thought that I had done the man a service, and when the proper inspector came he would be readier with his panes. The human race is, perhaps, credited with more duplicity than it deserves. The visitation of a lighthouse, at least, is a business of the most transparent nature. As soon as the boat grates on the shore, and the keepers step forward in their uniformed coats, the very slouch of the fellows' shoulders tells their story, and the engineer may begin at once to assume his 'angry countenance.' Certainly the brass of the handrail will be clouded; and if the brass be not immaculate, certainly all will be to much—the reflectors scratched, the spare lamp unready, the storm-panes in the storehouse. If a light is not rather more than middling good, it will be radically bad."
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Postby Grover » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:23 am

What a great passage ...
"There are two pips in a beaut, four beauts in a lulu,
Eight lulus in a doozy, and sixteen doozies in a humdinger.

No one knows how many humdingers
there are in a lollapalooza."
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