Straw Dogs - Ron & Suki Bishop
Ron: For some amazing reason it all worked, because we were employing all sorts of people and somehow or another, we made it work. Chris was the boss down there, so he was the face of the place and he was in the overall control of it, I think they would just turn up! There were surf instructors, there were people working in the office of course, there were bar people, we had to have cleaners coming in, maintenance and the bistro was where we were trying to do interesting health foods.
At that particular time in Cornwall there were all sorts of rather experimental catering operations. We wanted somebody doing it with health food in mind. But the American girl we had when I went down there said – in an American accent – 'They don't like quiche – but egg pie they'll eat!' which I thought was quite funny!
So, there was a range of people. Chris was dealing with it all with help from people like Brian Cole and various other people who were surfers down there. They all congregated there and we'd ask them to do things and they'd do it. It was like a co-operative in some respects.
Suki: I think, because it was very much a traditional farming area, I think to a lot of the locals this was like another planet suddenly arriving!
Ron: Well what had happened, just previous to us doing this, this chap Sam Peckinpah was a young director and he wanted to use St Buryan for "Straw Dogs". It's quite a violent film
Suki: It was the time of "A Clockwork Orange" and all those sorts of things. I mean nowadays it's probably nothing, but in those days it was quite shocking.
Ron: The story was about this couple, they were barricaded in and these locals were trying to murder them essentially. It showed the locals as being Neanderthal people but they'd gone to a lot of trouble to accommodate him (Peckinpah). So when it came out they were very angry at the way he had portrayed Cornish people. After that, when we came on the scene, Chris had to take the brunt of it. But Chris was very good like that and we managed to organise ourselves in such a way we were slightly separate and the location didn't impinge on anybody.
There was one occasion we put it about that we were going to have a celebration party, a party to get it rolling and we sent word out, do you remember? All those cars as far as the eyes could see? I was out in the lane saying 'We're full! We're full!'. It was madness! But it was all done in a very light-hearted and co-operative way. We never had any incidences of difficulties. In those days it was very much an atmosphere of live and let live and good fun really - and of course the surfing side of it was new. It was alternative – there was no question about it. Things just happened and everybody enjoyed themselves.
Suki: In those days the iron curtain was still up, the cold war still existed, we all had this threat and everybody was into self sufficiency and we were all going to farm and look after ourselves and get out of London - there was a great feeling in those times. It was a time of rejecting the mainstream.