The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC) contains correspondence between the fieldworkers and Orton through airmail, letters and postcards. The topics range from where they’re staying, potential informants and requests for more response book papers. Some of the best stories within these letters revolve around the weather and cups of tea.
In April 1959, Michael Barry wrote to Harold Orton from Warminster, saying that he was finding it difficult to interview people because the weather was nice, and people were out gardening instead of wanting to talk to him. Peter Gibson experienced a different challenge in 1953. In his letter to Orton from Homeleigh on 10th September, he shares his suspicion that he will have put on an extra half a stone from all the tea he had been drinking. This perfectly illustrates the style of interview that revolved around sitting in either a kitchen or a living room aiming to capture a person’s natural dialect.
In an entertaining audio clip, Fran Gillespie, who worked on the Survey as an Editorial Assistant in the mid-1960s, shares an extraordinary story she was told about a mishap during a fieldwork visit. Once again it features tea – but also a brush with the law!