(For what this is all about, see previous post.)
In 1962 I was at boarding school. On Sunday afternoons the rain thrummed down on the corrugated iron roof of the Common Room and we listened to Top of the Pops on the radio. Alan “Fluff” Freeman counted down the Top Ten pop records “And at Number One it’s Please Please Me From The Beatles” and signed off with a cheesy “All right, stay bright…” The Sixties were getting into full swing and I was reading Ian Fleming. James Bond heroines always had short cut fingernails and smelled of musk. We were rationed for sweets – 2ozs twice a week – and we learnt that marshmallows and chocolate buttons went a lot further than toffee.
The food was pretty miserable. All the meat was grey and round and fatty, lambporkbeef all indistinguishable from each other. Hunks of gristle in the stew, and a clean plate de rigeur. Years later I was at a private banquet in
“What on earth was that?”
She nodded sagely.
“Camel’s toes? Do you eat a lot of those?”
“I’ve never had them. Great delicacy. Come from
Puddings were what boarding school did really well. Lots of stodgy things with chocolate sauce or custard. Something called Queen of Puddings with jam and a meringue topping; spotted dick, syrup pud, and rice pudding, solid and sticky sometimes, and other times loose and creamy. We fought over the skin. And then we went and ran up and down a hockey pitch for two hours and worked it all off.
On Sundays we had coffee for breakfast. My grandmother was diabetic and maybe this was why she drank her coffee black, I don’t know, but I took to drinking mine without milk too. On my table sat Matron, wearing a wimple and a little upside down watch pinned to her chest and looking as if she had just landed from Sebastopol. Her accent was pure Edinburgh Morningside:
“It’ll stain your insides”
“Nobody is going to see my insides”
“It’s EFFECTATION, sheer EFFECTATION.”
And one day at supper in 1963 the housemistress rang her little bell for silence, which was usually a prelude to telling us that someone had failed to clean their games boots. But this day she said simply
“I thought you would all like to know that President John F Kennedy of the