Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Very Quiet Reading Day

I had a quiet day yesterday.

Colin was asleep in bed most of the day as the antibiotics took effect making him feel sick, hopefully before feeling better, and there was nothing drastic that needed doing indoors so after  a bit of weeding (and despite being covered with a net frame and having fleece over the edges, something has got in and ruined a lot of the beetroot plants seedlings Grrrrr!) I settled down with a non-fiction book for a change.

Terms and Conditions; Life in Girls' Boarding Schools 1939 -1979

The Preface is by writer Nicola Shulman - The Marchioness of Normanby and as you can see- in tiny print on the paper wrapper -  she says it is "The funniest book you'll read all year". Fascinating yes but  I found it a sad book mostly full of stories of the privations suffered by  girls in various schools - large and small. Even some of the better, happier schools left the girls with a poor education.
I've mentioned before how few books I had at home so missed out on reading all the stories by Enid Blyton, Angela Brazil and Elinor Brent Dyer written for girls about exciting adventures in boarding schools. This book makes me glad I didn't read them and beg to go to boarding school, not that I would have been able to go anyway!
Post War at Cheltenham Ladies College sounds particularly awful.

Even though I've never been to a a boarding school I can relate to some of the stories about education received during the '60's. I went to a small Grammar School where we were divided in the second year into "streams" - S = Special, this group had the best teachers and were destined for university, G = General - that's where I was, not particularly good, not extra poor then there was the R group R = Remainder - how sickening that even in 1970 there was a class called The Leftovers. I don't know how many of the R class went to uni but I do know that only about half of the G class did. The rest of us left at age 16 after O levels. No encouragement to stay either from home or school. In fact there was virtually no contact between school and home at all, just like the girls left at boarding schools often for months (or more if their parents were overseas) at a time without any visits home. But at least P.E. and Games was only a couple of hours a week, none of our teachers were sadistic and we all got to go home at the end of the day.

This little  book is well researched, there is a list in the back thanking over 100 "old girls" that the author spoke to, and is easily read in a day. A little glimpse into the lives of the privileged or maybe not so privileged few. A lovely way to spend a quiet day.
Thank you to whoever mentioned this on a blog - or I would never have know about it.

Also on the subject of keeping quiet. I don't live in a bubble. I do know about the crazy happenings in the world, I do care but  just choose not to mention them on my blog. There is enough talk elsewhere.

Back Soon


  1. Interesting read for your day. I just was reading our newspaper. Read through what children wrote about who they'd like to meet in history. Quite the range of parents or grandparents or George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Walt Disney and Dr Suess to name a few. I try to read a bit each week. Not as much as I should. I guess reading blog posts count. :-} Hoping Colin is feeling better at home. Take care.

  2. I do hope Colin is feeling a bit better today and has the chance to sit outdoors again.
    Your book sounds like an interesting read. A fascinating insight but I think I too would have found it a little sad. X

  3. Hope your husband is feeling soon.

    Think I'll try and look at that book too. I was at school in the sixties and particularly didn't have a great time in my senior school. I went to one of the first comprehensives in the country. All through my infants and juniors, top of the class in my reading, spelling and mental arithmetic, wrote long essays and poetry yet by the time I was eleven I was in the bottom class............. My husband was in the spares class too he went to an all boys school, ten boys in that class, they all made something of themselves, including my husband who went into the legal profession.

    Julie xxxx

  4. Interesting book, fortunately boarding schools have changed out of recognition now, I seem to be surrounded by them here, both private and state and they are very family orientated and caring places. I find reading a great solace in difficult times, a tidy house and garden are not a priority at times like these. Sending positive thoughts to Col. Sarah.

  5. Think you must have started me reading again. Just put down 'The Doll Makers' by Penny Grubb and really enjoyed it. As one who spent a certain time boarding in a convent, the experience can be good and also bad. Food wise caterpillars in the cabbage come to mind and I am sure I lived on mostly food from the tuck shop. But nearly all the nuns were gentle and kind, except for the sewing one. She threw my embroidery back at me with the words, the back must be as neat as the front!! as if.

  6. I am sorry that Col has had a bad reaction to the a/b's. The strong sort are pretty vile, and I only had a brief taster when I had all those chest infections for years on end. When I am worried I "keep busy" but reading is a great distraction too. That sounds a good read.

    Your summing up of schools in the 70s is similar to my experience in the 60s. We had the G stream (GCSE), C stream (CSE - I was in that), R stream (RSA) and then the no initial stream. I really really wanted to be in the no initial stream as they did wonderful practical crafts like spinning and weaving!

    I should have been in the G stream but at junior school I was "off sick" half the time - I hated school. I didn't improve much until my last year of senior school when I finally knuckled down to get reasonable grades.

    There was no encouragement, as you said, from school or at home, to do better (though my dad did want me to be a teacher, but no practical advice available). I quite fancied being a journalist, as I was good with words, but ended up as many did, office job and the next prospects were getting married. It was only when I left school I began to work hard to educate myself in the things that interested me.

    Imagine my surprise when I signed up for the "Stones and Bones" short archaeology course at Lampeter University, to be told I was good enough to be taken on in the next semester! I had never written an essay in my life, but seemed to have the knack and my research skills are still keen and honed . . .

  7. And very remiss of me, I hope your husband is coping with the latest medicines he is having, feeling sick is pretty miserable.

  8. I grew up in a very rural area with no access to a library & books were in short supply as a book was only given as a Christmas present (& always chosen by someone else!). Thank goodness the Comprehensive school did at least have a library with books that could be borrowed & I used to search the annual village jumble sale for others.
    I've read a few children's books of that time as an adult, but feel I've missed the childhood enjoyment of those. However I did read many of the newer children's classics with my own family & really enjoyed talking to them about the stories.

  9. The book sounds an interesting read. Life did seem much simpler back in the fifties and sixties when I was growing up. I also went to a grammar school but, again, no connection between school and home. My parents split up, I stopped working, and they were pleased to see the back of me at school. Certainly no questions asked or support given. Hey ho, but then the priviledged at boarding school did not fare so well either.
    Re recent events, I think we are all trying to deal with the enormity of what has happened in our own ways. Some can talk, some can't bear to talk. No way is right or wrong. Thankfully animals (dogs in my case) and the natural world prove some solace.
    Hope Col soon feels better from the antibiotics, keep blogging it's our bit of normality. Regards Jan Bx

  10. I'm about to do the opposite and read a fiction book, it's about a year since I last picked up something that wasn't about gardening, self sufficiency or cooking.

  11. Sounds like an interesting read. I must admit I read lots of Enid Blyton and thought boarding school sounded like a lot of fun. Not that it was reality at all. We weren't well off at all lol.

    At my school we were split into two different levels - one was expected to go to college and the others into jobs. One was all academic and the other got all the practical lessons that we all could have used. I was glad to be done with school. I enjoyed learning, still do, but not in that kind of setting.

  12. Bill went to boarding school. He hated it with a passion. It has left him with a million horrid tales to tell, and a hatred of bananas (after being forced to eat them, so hiding them in his pockets).
    I've seen many of his letters home from his school years, and all I can say is his mother must have had a hard heart. I cried reading them. Knowing her as I do, I'm sure she would have laughed and thought 'how sweet' without reading between the lines. I'm not blaming her, it's the way things were done back then, but as a mother myself I can't imagine not realising that some of the letters were asking for help. Some are hilarious though. Such pearls as 'Dawkins ripped the sleeve of my dressing gown' or 'don't like bananas, please tell teachers'.
    When Violet was eight, he looked at her and said how he could never have sent her off to school at that age. His sisters also boarded, one hated it, the other loved it!

    About the world, news, and all of that. Your choice if you talk about it, but of course it doesn't mean you neither know nor care! I hope that no one has said that to you. I tend to avoid talking about anything controversial on my blog, but I know all that's going on in the world, and have all manner of opinions. I just choose to keep them to myself. As do you. Nothing wrong with that.

    Hope Col is feeling better today. also hope you find out who's messed up your beetroot! x

  13. Your Grammar School experiences rather match mine Sue - but I think it was how it was in those days.
    As to mentioning World events, I think that is entirely the choice of the individual - not writing about it certainly doesn't mean we don't care.

  14. I desperately wanted to go to boarding school when I was little, all down to Enid Blyton and midnight feasts. I doubt any of them in the real world were half as much fun.

    Hope Col is feeling better. The weather has been on the horrible side of hot here today but plenty of chance to top up on Vit D again. xx

  15. I always thought boarding school would be a great adventure. Now I am glad that I never went to one.

    God bless.

  16. I really hope Col feels better soon. I went to boarding school in the 60's and 70's. My parents had no choice as Dad worked abroad. The education was fantastic but "home" never felt like "home" again and I honestly feel that I left home aged 8.

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