I had lunch yesterday with 2 old friends, both former colleagues from the university. It was great to catch up, as we do every few months, though on reflection, from the time we decided to eat outside because of the noise level in the air-conditioned interior, I think the script was by Kingsley Amis, the production BBC, and I hope I was played by Judy Dench. My friends could easily double for Michael Caine (The Quiet American, rather than Alfie) and Ian McClellan (Gandalf, definitely).
We put the world to rights, in furious agreement about current government policy, but nostalgia intervened when we got to the debate over the closure of SPC Ardmona, Australia’s last fruit canning factory.
Ardmona is in the Goulburn valley in Victoria. It has been a fruit growing area since the 19th century, and there has been a factory there since 1917 when – irony of ironies – the local fruit growers asked the Victorian Minister of Agriculture to contribute £100,000 towards a canning factory. [Shepparton News, 28 May 1917, from Trove]
The factory is the largest employer in a declining region with little other work available, and it faces closure without government support. The Federal government refused to contribute; the State government has offered something to keep it going for now, so there will still be Goulburn Valley tinned peaches available for the foreseeable future.
We all remembered in our childhood that every night’s dinner ended with something sweet – as often as not tinned fruit. Continue reading