The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

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helen
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The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by helen » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:04 am

Anyone who had a bad time at CH might find this book strikes some chords and helps to vindicate some of he attitudes and behaviors that are often criticized by others as generally the sign of an antisocial person or any number of other characteristics that people find difficult to deal with.Also, Professor Joy Schaverien's papers about British Boarding schools and their effect on their residents are worth reading. Boarding Concern is also an organization that helps BS survivors deal with their difficulties. I think much of what is written in these documents is particularly applicable to people who went to CH before the 70s and before the amalgamation of the boys'/girls/ schools.
I have no connection with the author or am in any way promoting this material for any reason except to offer something other sufferers might find useful.As a Hertford survivor- barely - I wish I had had it to give to my children decades ago so that they might have understood me more to our mutual benefit.

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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:37 am

Given the degree of physical hardship, emotional frigidity, arbitrary justice, sexual abuse (or deprivation) etc. etc. that undoubtedly characterized life at CH in the 50s and 60s, one might be forgiven (today) for expecting everyone who went through it to have become a wreck or a monster. But when I went to university and mixed with people who'd been to their local grammar schools, I found myself to be much like them. More like them, in fact, than like the Eton/Harrow/Rugby brigade. Which suggests it wasn't so much the school, as the home background.
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by helen » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:59 pm

On the contrary - as shown in the book most people who went through it and found it a horrendous experience did not collapse or become wrecks or monsters because we had learned one thing above all others, survival skills, and many of us were able to present a persona to the outside world that was satisfactory in terms of managing 'not to become a burden' or 'a nuisance' etc etc to people around us. It is what happens inside that eats away at the core of a person and may remain buried for ever as my brothers tell me they have settled for accepting, although I know how it has affected them having known them for longer than anyone else. Of course home life has an effect too, the contrasts working in different ways, but for me mostly according to the freedom and autonomy one left behind, rather than any other difference. Blake and Wordsworth have some choice lines about what happens to children when confronted with some of the things I encountered, although not the specifics, more the emotional reactions - shades of the prison house etc.
there's a lot more to say but that's enough for now - don't want to impose, be a burden etc etc.

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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by J.R. » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:11 pm

A really interesting thread.

Perhaps we should define posters between C.M.E.S's reign and after.

It now seems we are getting to the realm of the 'discipline days', and after the 'discipline days'. Bring back national service ??

I must go - Matron is calling, yet again !!
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:16 am

helen wrote:On the contrary - as shown in the book most people who went through it and found it a horrendous experience...
But how many who went through it found it a horrendous experience? Life in the 50s could be pretty horrendous anyway, by today's standards, and while I didn't enjoy CH at all when I was 11 or 12, after that I began to look forward to the end of the holidays. After all, it meant a release from those real horrors of adolescent life, parents and suburbia.
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffelere

Post by LongGone » Fri Jul 05, 2013 12:09 pm

As someone who was there in the 50s, I can't say I really suffered long-term consequences.......at least, that's what the voices in my head tell me :D
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffell

Post by Rex » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:01 pm

As it happens, The Making of Them was edited by the late Rob Bland (MdA 61-67). Duffell thanks him "for years of friendly discussion of the problems of being English, for running many of the men's ['boarding school survivors'] groups with me, and for making this book readable." He is quoted occasionally in the text but with no direct comment on his CH experience except that he enjoyed many things about it, including the food!

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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by J.R. » Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:55 pm

michael scuffil wrote:
But how many who went through it found it a horrendous experience? Life in the 50s could be pretty horrendous anyway, by today's standards, and while I didn't enjoy CH at all when I was 11 or 12, after that I began to look forward to the end of the holidays. After all, it meant a release from those real horrors of adolescent life, parents and suburbia.

I tend to agree with the above completely,
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:29 pm

J.R. wrote:
I tend to agree with the above completely
Don't just 'tend', John...
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by helen » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:49 pm

michael scuffil wrote:
helen wrote:On the contrary - as shown in the book most people who went through it and found it a horrendous experience...
But how many who went through it found it a horrendous experience? Life in the 50s could be pretty horrendous anyway, by today's standards, and while I didn't enjoy CH at all when I was 11 or 12, after that I began to look forward to the end of the holidays. After all, it meant a release from those real horrors of adolescent life, parents and suburbia.

Apparently quite a lot of people - enough to justify a growing number of researchers interested in studying the effects, and people involved in Boarding Concern, as well as those who are buying the book in increasing numbers. Of course home life was a factor in how much one liked living at school instead, but life at home, though difficult in many ways, especially materially, did not include, for me, anyway, cruelty or lack of concern for me as an individual . Home also allowed me a lot of independence which I lost at school where I was subjugated to authorities I did not regard as justified or trustworthy. In addition, going to school resulted in the loss of the experience of growing up with a sibling, and a loss of contact with friendships of both sexes made in early years who would otherwise have been part of my teenage experience.The artificial, restrictive and oppressive environment of boarding school was not a good foundation for life in my case, but others may not agree in their case. The book is not for them I assume. Everyone's experience is different in specifics, but there may be general tconclusions in the book which may resonate with some people. I was only mentioning the book, as I said, as something people who had found their lives adversely affected might find of some interest.

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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:39 am

The artificial, restrictive and oppressive environment of boarding school was not a good foundation for life in my case, but others may not agree in their case. The book is not for them I assume.

That may have had a lot to do with Hertford. I don't think many people would have found Horsham with its broad acres 'restrictive'. It was very easy to become invisible. Bryan McGee writes how he conducted an affair with a nurse entirely on school premises (and he wasn't the only one). He would have found it much, much more difficult at home in London in the 40s...
If I hadn't gone to CH, I would have spent at least 2 hours a day commuting to school. Now that would have been restrictive...
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by Mid A 15 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:53 am

A very interesting thread topic.

The main negative of boarding for me was a feeling I never quite felt I belonged, either at home or CH, and that feeling continued for some years although one learns how to camouflage it.

I was not a CH high flyer in any way so like others have said felt invisible or perhaps that should be ignored. At home things were discussed that I had missed through being at school and there were often awkward silences as a result.

The beautiful Sussex countryside and almost daily sport were great positives for me as an individual though.

I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the public transport commute to a day school, as Michael mentions, so probably, overall, things turned out ok for me.
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:42 am

Another thing: you seriously annoy/upset your parents, and you probably feel guilty. You seriously annoy your housemaster: too bad. Detachment (= emotional coolness) can be very liberating.
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by Jo » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:13 am

I agree there is a Hertford/Horsham divide here. Although I don't feel particularly damaged by my experience at Hertford now, and I wasn't desperately unhappy at the time, I went through a long period of anger after I left, when I came to realise that the treatment at Hertford was not right or normal. I identify with the feelings that Helen describes. I had a happy home life and felt unloved at school - I was there for the education, not because I was from a dysfunctional family.

I am still grateful for the education, and I certainly learned to be independent at Hertford - I was perhaps a bit too tied to my parents' apron strings before. I am very happy to see that the pastoral care that was so lacking at Hertford appears to be there in spades at Horsham now, and have made my peace with the school and am a fairly active supporter.

I'd be interested to have a look at this book - will look out for it on Amazon.
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Re: The Making of Them by Nick Duffel

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:12 am

I agree with most of what Jo says - some of what went on at Hertford in the 1950s would today be regarded as psychological abuse and in some cases had long term effects. Fortunately this eased up with several changes of headmistress, and certainly the atmosphere was very different by the time of the merger in 1985 - otherwise I would never have considered sending either of my daughters there!
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