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The Crack Magazine

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Flower Factory by Richard Foster

Yeah, the nineties seemed to pass me by in a whirl of booze, drugs and dancefloors. Paid for by work in retail, where the ace of the midweek day off was always in the back pocket just in case a Tuesday night got out of hand. Little did I know that over the water a bunch of British and Irish men and women were working in Holland’s flower factories doing the same as me in their spare time. Richard Foster’s Flower Factory captures the moment at the turn of the millennium when freedom of movement didn’t always mean what racist Brexiteers told us it meant. Yeah, loads of ‘us’ worked abroad too and also negotiated the rules, differences and oddities of working in a foreign country, and all captured beautifully in Flower Factory as Richard Foster figures out, through trial and error, the best way to work, rest, travel and play. Some of his workmates and bar-mates who drift through this memoir are given nicknames like Welsh Poet, Top Punk Tune, Young Sunderland, Sussex Trawler, the Affray, etc, which lifts these people off the page better than a hundred words of description possibly could. Tall tales abound, much grass is smoked, pints sunk, bulbs packed as Flower Factory’s four seasons of working, getting paid, getting wasted and discovering a new country, drift by in a fragrant and occasionally miasmic dream, (though the nightmare of Dutch radio, played constantly in the flower factory, is only ever just another sleep away). Foster also adds local colour, not only of the floral variety, but also of various Dutch towns and their dwellings, pubs/bars, eateries and notable characteristics, “I start to get a handle on the Dutch cities: their character and what their inner voices whisper to me.” A whisper Richard Foster transcribes onto the pages of this book so brilliantly well. If Flower Factory isn’t an instant classic I don’t what is.

Flower Factory – Richard Foster – publ. Ortac Press - £11.99

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