Monday, 23 April 2012

"And you absolutely have to tell them

about lunchtime," the Whirlwind added after I promised to write about breakfast at my boarding school. Right.
Lunch was a problem. In order to explain this you need to realise that the boarding house was a five minute (very fast) walk away from the school. This was a fifteen minute walk for me. The girls (it was a co-ed school) were route-marched back there for lunch. This was the main meal of the day.
I have absolutely no idea what the other girls were given to eat.  I stayed at school.  Boarders were not allowed to have bicycles (or tricycles) so any thought of me returning to the boarding house, eating lunch and then going back to school in about forty minutes was not considered advisable.
Why I was not permitted to eat with the boy boarders (who lived on the school grounds proper) I do not know. Why the meal was not saved for me to have in the evenings I do not know. It was, for some reason, deemed "not possible".  I never had a hot lunch.
Each morning I had to wait at the kitchen door and would be given my lunch. It was always the same. Cold baked beans between two pieces of white bread and a piece of fruit.  It never varied. It was why I always saved the boiled eggs if we had them!
Although the boys soon found out about this, I was not teased about it. I suspect their food was as dire as ours because quite a number of them took it in turns to eat the "sandwich". I simply could not face it. It made me quite popular with the boys!
The school tuck shop was only supposed to be used by day pupils. It sold, among other things, hot "cup of soups" in winter. In the winter term I was told to get one of those to go with the sandwich. I do not know who arranged it but I suspect it was the work of my English teacher who had seen my lunch and was shocked by it.  I still wonder whether she actually paid for those cups of soups herself. (As a boarder I was not allowed to take money to school. We were not supposed to need it.)
The woman who ran the tuck shop found the occasional "spare" roll or bun for me as well. She did not approve of the situation either but there was not a lot that could be done about it. I did not dare complain. My mother simply said I would not starve. No, I did not starve but I was certainly not eating properly.
What saved me were the weekends. I spent those with my paternal grandparents.  My grandfather would take me with him and we would go to the newly opened "supermarket" to do the main shop of the week. He could never understand my preference for packets of plain savoury biscuits rather than chocolate bars to take back to school.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I am fascinated by your memories of school food. It is amazing that, so recently, people who were supposed to be responsible should consider what they handed out to be an acceptable diet for growing youngsters. It sort-of explains why the next generation has gone for the burger-and-fries type of industrial food too much.
Our school food which was voluntary was just the same as we would have got at home - only cheaper quality and smaller portions. Tellingly, the teachers ate it too.

catdownunder said...

Our school was particularly bad Jean - I believe there was an investigation after I left and things did improve a little. There were other things about the school which were also disturbing. Fortunately my English teacher, in her 70's by then was excellent and so was my modern history teacher - also close to 80 though! My maths teacher, then 86, was hopeless.
The rest of the staff were younger but one was quite profoundly deaf - as he taught chemistry that caused problems.
They were just lucky that most of the students were boarders, amenable country kids.