Blood, Sweat and Volunteers

by Rebecca Sullivan

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Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is turning 40 this year - 2014. After listening to several interviews conducted for CAT's 'Oral History Project', these verses and chorus came together.

I have worked in Membership and Fundraising at CAT since 2010, and I get to enjoy a cozy office, beautiful gardens and central heating that (usually) works. Those who came in the 1970s faced a barren landscape with just a few derelict buildings and cottages. Life wasn't easy or comfortable, but something kept them going. That enthusiasm has continued on through the years, leading to many successes in that energy conservation and renewable energy is now mainstream. But we still have work to do.

Thanks to everyone who has given so much to the environmental movement over the years. Let's all push together and convince the majority that we can keep the lights on and live comfortably without nuclear energy, and with minimum fossil fuels. It's time!

Throughout 2014 I will be donating all purchases and extra donations towards this song to CAT, in honour of its 40th. Thanks to Paul Allen for producing the track and for the title : )

Thanks for listening,


Nineteen hundred, seventy four in the shortest month of the year
Something began on an old slate heap, we found our way here
You can put it down to Schumacher, we want to care for the Earth
You can put it down to OPEC, now we know what energy's worth

Finally we're here where the future starts, everything we need is at hand
Power comes from the wind and water, food comes from the land

Bob's been laying cables, over and underground
Two kilowatts we harvest from a turbine spinning round
Some of us are engineers, some of us can build
Some bake the wholesome loaf that keeps our bellies filled

And we're not gender-limited, the labour must be shared
When it's time to scrub the rancid pots, no one will be spared

Strong comfort, Southern Comfort, black coffee we brew
Gather round the table, let's see what we can do
Cold shower, no power, run out of soap
Some days there's nothing left but mud, slate and hope

New volunteers keep coming, now there's Roger and Christine
Filling up the garden with their babies and broad beans
Peter's experimenting with alternative cuisine
His extra-chewy omelettes are crawling with protein

Freshly shaved, Graham arrived -- reeking of Old Spice
We said, Stay and be a 'vol', but you don't have to smell THAT nice

Welly boots and dungarees, bras are optional
Soak up the sun when it finally comes, short shorts for us all

So are we crazy idealists, some say we're wrong
Some say we must be unusually strong
We're always moving slate from here to over there
Wheelbarrow weighs you down and the dust gets in your hair

Strong comfort, Southern Comfort, black coffee we brew
Gather round the table, let's see what we can do
Cold shower, no power, soap on a rope
Some days there's nothing left but mud

Dad says have you joined a cult, or is it just a fad
The papers say we're anarchic, and wouldn't print our ad
We're aiming for consensus, on that we all agree
And we'll argue til the small hours on whether it's anarchy

Finally we're here where the future starts, a living laboratory
Sometimes called The Shit & Wind, we call it C - A - T
(or the quarry). . . that's C - A - T


released August 1, 2014
Words, vocals, guitar & harmonica by Rebecca
Recording, mixing & naming by Paul




Rebecca Sullivan Machynlleth, UK

Previously with the duo Ember, I now play with various friends for events, and just for fun! I write songs for occasions & play guitar, clarinet, ukulele , piano and harmonica. I also occasionally have an opening for guitar and piano students (children and adult beginners). ... more

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