Leave Days in Horsham

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Martin Chuzzletits
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Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Martin Chuzzletits »

If you weren't one of those pupils who were in a position to make a mad dash to their family homes and back on Leave Days, you were probably in the same situation as my parents and I generally were: obliged to spend the day mooching around Horsham in all weathers, trying not to spend money we didn't have. At worst, it could be an undeniably bleak experience. Generally it began well enough with a meal somewhere, though the meal was generally preceded by having to stand around waiting for a table to come free. The venues I especially recall were the Merrythought Cafe on Bishopric (long gone), the Tudor Cafe on Denne Road just off East Street (latterly the Carmela Restaurant, current status uncertain), Wakefield's on West Street (long gone), the Tong Shing Chinese restaurant in the Carfax (now eCigWizard) and, if we were desperate, the Carfax Grill Room. Tong Shing was the one that really sticks in the mind though, with its blazingly hot fruit tarts served with the mysterious 'custard sauce' and its bone-freezing ice cream full of tiny fragments of ice, served in equally freezing metal bowls. Finishing one's ice cream and facing the prospect of going back out into the pouring rain sticks in the memory very vividly. Likewise memorable were the tiny WC off the upstairs landing and the maître d, an immaculately suited oriental skeleton of indeterminate ancientness.

After lunch it was a question of how on earth to fill the remainder of the day without breaking the bank. Going to the cinema was forbidden by the school, for fear that germs would be picked up and redistributed at CH later on, so all that was left was going into shops, coming out of shops, visiting Horsham Museum on multiple occasions and somehow avoiding showers. Every so often, one of the local youths might shout Penguin!, which added a bit of colour. Eventually there was tea at a cafe of some sort, then a bit more dawdling, then the trip back out to the school. All rather melancholy on the whole, yet I still looked forward to it.

Did everyone else who spent their Leave Days in Horsham have similarly bleak experiences? Or did my parents somehow overlook a multitude of exciting distractions? (Hanging around in Horsham Park in the drizzle doesn't count.)
Last edited by Martin Chuzzletits on Thu May 28, 2020 8:15 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Katharine »

I didn’t experience them in Horsham, but they sound very like Long Saturdays (Long Sats) in Hertford.

However I was one of the ones who lived close enough to school to go home, get out of uniform for a few hours and eat decent food!
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by ColA25 »

In the 1970s I tended to end up in Brighton, Worthing, or on the South Downs with my parents. My father did have a small car, not really up to getting home to Romford and back in a day, pre M25 and M23. We usually started with a picnic just behind the 1st XV pitch on Big Side.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Ajarn Philip »

Martin Chuzzletits wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 11:14 am
Going to the cinema was forbidden by the school, for fear that germs would be picked up and redistributed at CH later on...
Seriously? That sounds ridiculous, but at the same time strangely plausible, though I have no memory of such a prohibition. Then again, I have no specific memories of Saturday visits either!

The only memory I have of the cinema during my time at CH is late on, when Mick McDaid and I snuck off to London to go to the Turner exhibition (God only knows why, I don't recall being particularly interested in art). When we got there, the queue was so long that we ended up going to see The Exorcist instead...
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by richardb »

Different shopping regime in those days and the day really dragged from 5 pm when the shops closed. By then you have long since visited any shops you actually wanted to go to.

Post A levels I remember James Bishop and I making a pilgrimage to London to watch a film only to egg each other on into watching a soft porn film called Bilitis. A real let down.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Straz »

I remember leave days in the 1960s being rather dull, especially during the winter.
But my brother was delighted to see us, wherever we went.
Horsham - often on a rainy day - was inevitably the place to go.
The Sunset restaurant - with a big hike up some steep stairs - was very popular with many housey boys and their parents. Sometimes you had to wait ages for a table.
And we used to end up at the Goblin's Pool (outside Horsham, can't remember where) for high tea. It was a definite highlight.
Things gradually improved while I was at CH myself during the early 70s.
Later on - especially when we were allowed in civvy gear - my father ventured further afield, and headed for the coast.
Worthing was good, but Brighton was my favourite, especially during the summer.
I particularly remember wandering into a newly opened Virgin Records shop in Brighton on a blazing hot day. Dad said I could choose one record, so I carefully thumbed through prog rock LPs by Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, ELP, Curved Air, and others. To one side there were a number of long-haired people lying about on big floor cushions, listening to records on headphones. A strong smell of incense filled the shop.
I was in my element, but my dad was clearly not enjoying the experience. Looking at the surroundings and the clientele with disdain, he said to me, "I'm going outside."
I looked a little baffled, so he lent over again and whispered, "I think those people are smoking pot."
It was certainly a leave day that I never forgot...
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Martin Chuzzletits »

The Sunset Restaurant was pretty much beyond my parents' budget. I think we went there once and I remember it was split-level inside once you got up to the first floor where it was, above a shop. The management imagined it was exotic, when actually it was 1960s cheesy. As for the Goblin's Pool Hotel, that was apparently in Rudgwick a few miles north, so we'd have had no way to get there with no car. Reminds me of how CH masters used to take their wives to a French restaurant called Chez Jean sometimes as a treat, money permitting. My folks could only dream about that sort of expenditure.

Richard, I remember seeing posters advertising Bilitis on the Tube. Perhaps unsurprising that they promised more than the film delivered, in the best rip-off tradition. I never saw Emmanuel but I'm sure it was out of the same drawer. Pretty Baby was all hype and no content, I can vouch for that. About as erotic as Pogles' Wood.

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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by LongGone »

Are Leave Days a renamed ‘Whole Holiday’ that forced us off the grounds with a brown paper bag containing a fish paste sandwich and a shriveled apple? Those with money went boating at Amberley, the broke but brave hitchhiked to Brighton and the rest huddled outside the school fence until it was time to come back. A competition arose as to who could get furthest and return in time, with proof. An apocryphal student used his brother’s RAF contacts to make it to Gibraltar on an RAF transport.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by loringa »

LongGone wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:41 am
Are Leave Days a renamed ‘Whole Holiday’ that forced us off the grounds with a brown paper bag containing a fish paste sandwich and a shriveled apple?
In the 1970s we used to be issued with bag rats along these lines for Speech Day and Old Blues' Day when, presumably, the dining hall was in use by the great and the good. To be honest, I don't recall them being the horror bags of LongGone's recollections of an earlier time. In fact they were a bit of a treat and a great deal better than the usual Kesp-based slop that was usually served up. I still find myself a regular recipient of bag rats of various kinds; the ones they are feeding us at work at the moment are not great, but not too bad, but then I always quite liked the food served up by the RAF on their transport flights, and there's not many who would agree with that!

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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by time please »

Being one of those pupils who should not have been at CH due to chronic homesickness Leave Days were a nightmare. I remember counting how many days minutes and seconds until I could meet my parents again, and then doing the same on the actual day until it ended. A very sad experience.

We usually ended up in Brighton and I cannot recall that it was much fun. No I should never have been at CH and even at the age of 62 I still shudder when I think about it.

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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by MrEd »

Leave Days, early 1980s. A mix, mainly a chance to see my father who lived in London, and going up to London by train, or down to Brighton with him, the occasional day trip home to south east London, leaving home around 5.30 to get to CH via London Bridge/East Croydon. Not always possible to see a parent, and in the second winter term leave day and after my 18th birthday, I was for reasons I can't recall, on my tod and let myself loose in Horsham. I had an UCCA (Uni admissions) interview in Leeds on the Monday, even more exciting than Horsham as a prospect.

However, into Horsham Saturday lunchtime in civvies for a nice curry with a tasty vegetable starter and a pint or two. Found an offie and got a bottle of Port and perhaps something else, no questions asked at either and I worked my way back to CH. Some other lads were around for some reason, and numbers increased towards the evening.

By around 8ish, the Port had been sunk, as had all the purchased alcohol. I stumbled into a friend's study as he was getting to the end of his keg of home brew, with a friendly smile he acknowledged a fellow drunk and kindly shared the yeasty dregs. Eventually I had to go to the dorm, and found my way upstairs into the end washroom as the contents of my stomach also found their way upstairs. I somehow missed the sink (which faced the door, perhaps someone was using the sink?) and hit the radiator (one of those round ones with pointy edges). Second go made the sink. Crashed into bed without getting my pyjamas on, far too much effort and crashed out zonked (and rather worse for wear).

Sunday morning, I woke up with the breakfast call. All still, slight funny feeling in my head, then I realised that I had no pyjamas on, rather odd, why might that be? I moved my head and felt the hangover, and on my pillow was the remainder of the vegetable curry which had emerged during the night. Oh God! Had to get dressed and go to breakfast, wash curry off face, and sort the bed out later. Really ill feeling at breakfast, I only managed a large cup of milk, very thirsty though I was. That didn't last the meal (sorry housemates) and out it came but back in the cup. Back to House, PeA never seemed so far. Large amount of orange squash drunk and a snooze. Woke up around 10.30 and had to find a bucket. Needed to get to Grandma in Barnsley that day to overnight for Leeds UCCA interview. Upstairs to strip bed and clean up pillow. Not good. Found the first portion of vegetable curry baked onto the radiator, tried to clean that whilst washing the sheets and pillow case. Still ill, nothing staying down.

Around lunchtime, bile started emerging, bitter, yellow bile down in the loos by the changing rooms, head really sore now, no water staying down. Lunch, couldn't eat anything, trudge back and eventually water stays down. Daylight fades as I head to London by train. Get to Victoria Coach Station for bus trip to Barnsley, Oh God, a rumbling, pounding bus ride, many hours on the M1, one stop (Leicester Services?) how will I hold my stomach down in this journey? Carrier bag my only hope. Somehow I made it to Barnsley without further incident. "Hi Grandma" "Oh, I'm fine.". The remarkable recuperation that teenagers can make.

I'd've been better off settling for a Pot Noodle from Tescos, which was the Horsham outing staple in UF days for a treat. It must have been hard for those whose parents couldn't visit.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Big Jim »

MrEd, that reminds me of my Grecians' Whole Holiday [i.e. my post-A-Level day out], at the end of which I retired to a pub in Victoria where I sat drinking pints of dodgy Ben Truman keg beer and smoking ill-advised Gitanes. When I got on the train back to CH I felt fine, but when it pulled out of the station I started feeling a bit green round the gills so I withdrew to the WC just in case.....or just in time, as it happened. I spent the entire journey throwing up, resolutely remaining in the WC while people occasionally tried the door handle and then took their custom elsewhere. When the train arrived at CH station, I emerged from the toilet and then fell out onto the platform on my hands and knees. I remember the guard shouting 'Well close the door, then!', so I obliged him. I then staggered back to house, mercifully encountering nobody en route. When I got into the boot room I met a friend who told me I was as white as a sheet, which definitely made sense. I went straight up the fire stairs, brushed my teeth and went to bed, blacking out immediately. Next morning I found a tiny pool of bile on the parquet next to my bed, which I promptly wiped away with a discarded sock before anyone noticed. My secret has remained safe to this very day.

The curious thing is that I wasn't actually drunk at any stage of the proceedings, just extremely unwell, which I blame on the manufacturers of Gitanes and the brewers of Ben Truman keg beer for churning out such utterly filthy product. A Pot Noodle would probably have finished me off altogether.
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Ajarn Philip »

This thread has taken a distinctly nauseous turn! Perhaps a new thread should be started entitled "Hangovers I have had" or "Projectile vomiting adventures"? :lol: :drinkers: :drinkers:
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by J.R. »

The only leave day I recall with relish was probably my last in 1963 when I and another OB travelled to my home by train and returned in the early evening. It was summer 1963 and somehow, I still don't know how, we managed it, managed to buy four cans of Worthington from the buffet car. It made the journey from Dorking to Horsham superb !!
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Re: Leave Days in Horsham

Post by Spoonbill »

So did you throw up on the train or wait till you got back to CH before doing it?
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