Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH Forum)

Share your memories and stories from the Hertford Christ's Hospital School, which closed in 1985, when the two schools integrated to the Horsham site....

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Angela Woodford
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Angela Woodford » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:03 pm

Not as mortified as I, every termtime Wednesday; three hours of mortification, exhaustion and lots of excoriating and brutally frank home truths!

Cookery theory... not so bad... at least I was sitting down...

Never forgetting poor Mrs Owen.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by J.R. » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:04 pm

(cue the joke about the little boy; the finger and the thumb and the dyke - Oooops !! I've said it !)
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Angela Woodford » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:00 pm

att. Kerren -

I coped over the two years despite applying the very behaviour of your non-Forum friend!

Whatever Miss Jukes (poor Betty!) said to me, "I took it on the chin".

I was convinced of my "poor" standards, and at all times, attempted to improve them.

I believed every bit of her criticism, and took it on board. Often very personal and hurtful - however -

In the very spirit of the CH Girl, I accepted all this! However, it did me awful damage. Unlike your admirable friend.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by kerrensimmonds » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:23 pm

Well, I hope that you do not end up in extreme old age blind, alone, disabled and reliant upon carers, neighbours and friends (many of them former CH staff) to stay in your own home................. Is that retribution enough for you, Munch?
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by anniexf » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:29 pm

kerrensimmonds wrote:Well, I hope that you do not end up in extreme old age blind, alone, disabled and reliant upon carers, neighbours and friends (many of them former CH staff) to stay in your own home................. Is that retribution enough for you, Munch?

Kerren, that's unfair, unkind and unnecessary. To her great credit, Angela has never mentioned a desire for revenge.

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Angela Woodford » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:50 pm

Thanks Ann. That's really thoughtful and very understanding of you.

For many of the Mistresses, I have only affectionate memories. Dear darling sensitive Mrs Betterton. Miss Morrison - definitely not touchy-feely; but how I'd love to see her again, make her laugh and see that bosom quiver! Poor old Nutto - who did she have to care for her? The whiff of a Craven 'A'? The approach of Pot! Smashing Mrs Toplis - the best! The booming voice of Miss Riddiford, and the peep of Nellie's whistle!

I don't know how I'll end up, obviously, Kerren. But I'd rather be at home cared for by neighbours, friends and old colleagues than put in a "home", forced to sell my own property to pay for my care, as many of the patients I've nursed were compelled to do. And I mean that. Relatives hovering like vultures. Believe me, I've seen this.

Miss Jukes sounds well cared for. Former CH staff looking after her? As suitable a situation as one could imagine for an elderly single woman.

I do feel, that in your spirited defence of DR West and Miss Jukes, you are speaking as one who got to know them in mellow old age. You can't have been taught by Miss Jukes past the U1V? Weren't you an 'A' former? You really can't have known her as an 'A' level subject teacher? She gave me hell.

Perhaps, if I'd been involved in the recent care of Miss Jukes, I would have come to terms with all the bad memories.

On one occasion , you implied that I should have taken DR's treatment of me "on the chin" as your friend did. You don't respond to my emphasising that I did just this all through my schooldays.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by icomefromalanddownunder » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:37 am

I'm finding the tone of this thread very distressing, so, here's a proposition for consideration.

How's about we vent away but, before hitting Submit, we carefully re-read what we have typed and consider whether we would be willing to stand before the person about whom we are reminiscing and voice precisely what we have typed to their face?

xxx

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by anniexf » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 am

icomefromalanddownunder wrote:I'm finding the tone of this thread very distressing, so, here's a proposition for consideration.

How's about we vent away but, before hitting Submit, we carefully re-read what we have typed and consider whether we would be willing to stand before the person about whom we are reminiscing and voice precisely what we have typed to their face?

xxx
Caroline, sorry if this is unpleasant for you, but there are times when letting your feelings out among people who might just recognise that what you feel really hurts, and who may have experienced something similar, is the only way to achieve a catharsis. Many Hertford OBs suffered, but a few were deeply wounded. Can't you tolerate the need for healing as evidenced here? It would be so kind and generous if you could.

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Angela Woodford » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:45 am

Angela Woodford wrote: For many of the Mistresses, I have only affectionate memories. Dear darling sensitive Mrs Betterton. Miss Morrison - definitely not touchy-feely; but how I'd love to see her again, make her laugh and see that bosom quiver! Poor old Nutto - who did she have to care for her? The whiff of a Craven 'A'? The approach of Pot! Smashing Mrs Toplis - the best! The booming voice of Miss Riddiford, and the peep of Nellie's whistle!
And I'd like to see these mistresses again, and tell them how much I appreciated them!

I certainly would be willing to explain to a couple of the Mistresses/some of my peers/several Seniors just how much they hurt me, and how the things they said have stayed with me all my life. But definitely not standing up in front of them! Those days are gone! Were any of these women ever prepared to sit down with me and explain carefully why I didn't fit in? It was all right for them to be angry, wasn't it? And, weirdly, I never did commit any major crime.

There are Old Girls who have been bitterly hurt and that the pain has stayed with them - and goodness knows how many of them aren't Forumites - sacked, or left CH in a state of non-achievement...

I've weaned myself off the antidepressants and sedatives with which I've been treated on and off ever since my schooldays.

Perhaps I am becoming more forthright. Is it right to edit history to make it more acceptable? It's difficult, maybe, that I do have such a good situational recall.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by fra828 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:42 pm

[quote="Angela Woodford"]Thanks Ann. That's really thoughtful and very understanding of you.

For many of the Mistresses, I have only affectionate memories. Dear darling sensitive Mrs Betterton. Miss Morrison - definitely not touchy-feely; but how I'd love to see her again, make her laugh and see that bosom quiver! Poor old Nutto - who did she have to care for her? The whiff of a Craven 'A'? The approach of Pot! Smashing Mrs Toplis - the best! The booming voice of Miss Riddiford, and the peep of Nellie's whistle.

I have different memories of Miss Riddiford and Nellie. The former, well, I can't think of a good word to say about her I'm afraid to say. She seemed so angry with me all the time when I started doing German Alevel. I remember her large 'heavy' handwriting marking my essays, thought I'd done ok, after all German was my favourite subject at the time, and there she was slating them and doing everything short of throwing her text book 'Lustiges Lernen' at me! Comments such as 'terrible work' were scrawled across my work. She totally destroyed any confidence I had. As for Nellie, she was relatively young and should have been more approachable, but she was on a par with Miss Jukes and Wilson in the old fashioned school marm stakes. As I have said before I saw a caring side to Miss Morrison.

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by MaryB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:09 am

Angela Woodford wrote:
Angela Woodford wrote:

There are Old Girls who have been bitterly hurt and that the pain has stayed with them - and goodness knows how many of them aren't Forumites - sacked, or left CH in a state of non-achievement...
.
Sadly this is only too true. I saw a friend last week - someone who would certainly have appeared to be a "swan" - who remains deeply hurt and angry by the attitudes and experiences she encountered at Hertford in the 60s and early 70s. Having heard it here, it was still shocking to find it irl.
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Kim2s70-77 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:19 am

What I wouldn't give for a chance to 'stand up' in front of Mrs Dean!!! Heh heh!!

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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Jo » Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:13 am

Oh dear.....at the risk of upsetting some people (or everyone :( ), what I see from this topic is that everyone had their bete noire member of staff at Hertford. And everyone had their favourites. The differences might have been down to chance, or just to personal chemistry between the mistress and girl involved. As adults, perhaps the staff might have tried harder to be nurturing and encouraging, but some of them (despite appearances to the contrary to us as children at the time) were quite young, and only human after all. I imagine that they, like all of us who have reached this age, would probably look back and think with hindsight that they might have done some things differently.

Angela, you are very bitter about DR, but passionate in your defence of Miss Morrison. I was lucky enough not to suffer at DR's hands, but a careless remark on my very last school report by Miss Morrison, which appraised my entire school career in negative terms, and which I thought completely unjustified, inflicted no little damage on me and my memories of CH as a young adult. Miss Richards' and the various games mistresses' constant carping about my weight and size, and how inconvenient it was for them, left me with an eating disorder which I am only just starting to resolve 40 years later.

I'm not citing these instances to perpetuate any bad feeling, but just to demonstrate that one person's meat is another's poison, and this seems amply true of CH staff :(
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by MaryB » Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:32 am

Yes, it's true that we all had different betes noires (?), though some seem to have been more uniformly noire than others. I suppose the depth of pain and bitterness that many people feel is the result of the cut offness and hothouse intensity of the whole Hertford experience and our consequent vulnerability. Everything seemed very acute somehow, and unlike normal teenagers with separate but intersecting worlds of home, school and friends we had nowhere else to go. It was inevitable that both praise and criticism took on a tremendous importance, and for some of us the latter has done long term damage. This forum is enormously valuable in allowing that to be recognised and expressed, but I know it's been shocking and difficult for others of us to hear. I'm rambling a bit, but I'm trying to say that as well as immersing ourselves in nitty gritty memories (my post yesterday about exactly where the house library was in 3s!), standing back and reflecting on the whole experience and why it matters so much to us is probably a good thing to do.
I'll stop now and get on with tomorrow's sermon - you can see what mode I'm in!
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Re: Hertford hygeine, hierarchies and heartache (from CH For

Post by Angela Woodford » Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:59 pm

Jo wrote:
Angela, you are very bitter about DR, but passionate in your defence of Miss Morrison. I was lucky enough not to suffer at DR's hands, but a careless remark on my very last school report by Miss Morrison, which appraised my entire school career in negative terms, and which I thought completely unjustified, inflicted no little damage on me and my memories of CH
I'm horrified to think that BJM wrote something so extremely negative on your last report. I feel sure you deserved a very very good report! Look at what a successful career you've made for yourself....

Honestly Jo, I was fond of Miss Morrison for some weird reason over six years. I don't think she was a woman with outstanding interpersonal skills - she was brisk, frank, forthright and practical. Just the sort of woman of whom I've always made a point of steering clear! :wink: But during my schooldays, there was a sort of understanding between BJM and me, and I can't put my finger on it.

It was very wrong of her to write something which was subsequently damaging for you. She could be awfully frank when speaking her mind. She once gave me a terrible "blowing -up" in an English grammar lesson - but then, I was reading a Bags I Read That After You novel under the desk at the time... She was right! I was in the wrong.

I suppose I feel bitter about DR because she wrote me and other non-swans off as useless for seven years, and never acknowledged anything I did manage to achieve. BJM did give me a bit of a chance - and I loved to make her laugh.

But I completely see why you should have been angry. She was wrong.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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