Who Else Has Never Been Back to CH?

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Spoonbill
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Who Else Has Never Been Back to CH?

Post by Spoonbill »

I left the Oh-Christ Hospital in the 70s and have never set foot in the place since, nor even contemplated going back. In fact I always thought that blokes who went back within a year or two of leaving were pretty sad b*ggers. And another thing: I don't quite see WHY I'd ever go back. Whilst I agree (as someone on another thread observed) that CH is regularly in one's thoughts and conversations purely because one was educated there, actually going back seems pointless. I mean, I KNOW what CH is, so I don't need to see it again.

And as for Fond Memories....Ha ha ha ha ha! The place was just so **cking useless. When I left school and discovered that kids at other schools (including Comprehensives) got to study Spanish, pottery, drama and any number of other subjects, I really did wonder how CH came to kid itself it was prestigious. I've never met anyone else who'd been to such an academically-narrow school. And as for its having Prepared Us For Life......Ye gods.

And can anyone tell me how it was that in spite of having a Director of Drama and a bleedin' great Arts Centre, we weren't able to get qualifications in Theatre Arts/Performing Arts/Drama or whatever? WHAT a mountain of useless crap that school was.
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Post by jtaylor »

I guess you paid full-fees then, and didn't benefit from any of the unique way in which the education is funded??

I don't think CH has ever claimed to be at the top academically (happy to proved wrong though) but I would say that opportunities CH offers (certainly in my time and since) have been well-above any comprehensive/day school I've come across?

Sport/activities every day, access to all the facilities (including the great arts centre, music school, chapel, sports centre etc) all week, weekends etc. all included in the "price" (however much or little that was)?

You're entitled to your opinion, and I won't criticise you for it - but I do feel objectively that CH offers a lot more than a comprehensive....

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Post by JamesF35 »

Like most things in life, spoonbill, the more you put into something, the more you get out of it. I too was at CH in the seventies and I must say that my recollections are very different from yours.

Languages: yes, I admit that Spanish wasn't one of the language options available to us but you could do latin, greek, french, german, russian, some of which definitely weren't available at most comprehensive schools. In fact, at the time, Spanish was usually offered at comprehensive schools as an alternative to French or German to those generally considered to have less academic skills - I'm not sure of the logic behind this but it most certainly was the case.

Pottery: I seem to remember pottery was available in the Art School and those people who chose Art as an option subject spent many enjoyable hours learning this skill without a hoard of disinterested youths thrown in with them who had little serious interest - as was the case in many 70s comprehensive schools.

Drama are you sure it really was CH you attended ? We most certainly had drama lessons (I even got caned by DHN for skipping them once). We also had many oportunities to take part in School Plays and House Plays in which anyone could have a part if they wanted to. The Arts Centre opened up a whole new world to those that wanted to play a part in it and a good number of those people ended up in careers associated with it - me for one. "Drama" didn't really exist as an examination subject in those days. This came along later with the introduction of GCSEs but it could be argued that the formalisation of a drama curriculum took away some of the spontinaity of those days which made it something that could only be experienced in a place such as CH. Drama lessons existed at CH before the Arts Centre was built - I remember early drama lessons in the Preb Block hall and who, of that era, could ever forget "Indians" in Big School. As far as qualifications go, after leaving CH, I walked easily into a full time job in a professional london theatre (Young Vic) and spent the following twenty five years using the skills I learnt at CH in theatre related work. To this day, I can call one of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Lighting Designers a good friend and he often remarks upon the fantastic week he spent at CH, working with me, which culminated in Ian MacKellan taking a curtain call on the last night wearing a "button coat". I didn't need a piece of paper to tell me I had become "qualified" in the CH Theatre. I even learnt about things like hydraulics as we moved those damm seating towers around . . . I could go on . . .

I most certainly never felt that being at CH was anything to do with it being "prestigious". On the contrary I think most people learnt some humility whilst, at the same time, taking great a pride in the Foundation and what it stands for. When we all arrived at CH, from whatever background, and put on our uniform, we were all the same.

It is sad that you feel the way you do and even more sad that you feel the need to air your bitterness. I think we all know that there will always be a very small number of pupils at CH who are not happy there but, mercifully, they are a very small minority. In reality most would support the "charge" referring to "the great benefits you have received in this place".


Yes, I was one of those boys who revisited CH within the first year after leaving. Maybe that was sad, but it was also hard to detach oneself from somewhere that had been so important to one for six years. It is currently seventeen years since my last visit back and I am yearning to find an opportunity to renew that aquaintance.

Life at CH in the 70s wasn't always easy, it wasn't always happy, but it was enriching. You had to "put in to get out". I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be there and I believe I owe much to the experience.
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Post by englishangel »

GET OVER IT Spoonbill.

You must be at least in your 40's, don't you think it is time you had some therapy?

Stop behaving like a stroppy teenager over some imagined slight.

I too hated CH when I was there but I grew up.

I bet your kids are now having the time of their lives and you are thinking that you missed out.

This is the 21st Century, CH in the 70's was the 19th.

Or has no woman wanted you because of the chip on your shoulder?
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Post by jhopgood »

I love this diversity of opinion but we all have our own experiences and work it out in different ways.
I went back to CH in my first year because my brother was there, but after that it was a good 20 years before I returned.
Bricks and mortar only create a feeling that you recognise the place, what is fascinating is that there still seem to be a lot of smiling faces araound. Someone must be doing something right.
I did latin and found it invaluable in learning Spanish, which I did 6 years after leaving CH and am now considered bilingual, (by others, not myself).
I did pottery and my mother still has the disaster to prove it, and one of my contemporaries now has his own lighting company based on the experience he gained lighting school plays.
Life is a lot of opportunities and it is up to people to take them, so I feel sorry that Spoonbill appears to have failed to take some of his.
I am slightly confused as to why he has decided to write on this site, but that's what's great about a site like this.
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Post by englishangel »

I eventually went back (to Horsham) in 1994 having left (Hertford) in 1972.

I thought I wouldn't know a soul but when I got out of the car, two women from my year got out of the car next to me, weird or what? Even more weird, omne of them was the one I had sat next to during the entrance exam.

Neither of them had been back in the interim either.

I went again in '95 and '97 (25 years on and only one other "Hertford Class of '72" there) but haven't been since.

Perhaps when I am a batty old lady.
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Post by Spoonbill »

Hard to understand quite why EnglishAngel would choose to be so stingingly nasty to me when I've done her no harm.

Hard also to comprehend James's response to my academic moans, all of which remain valid. As I say, no qualifications were available in drama/theatre arts/performing arts, nor in pottery; having a subject as obscure as Russian on offer didn't in any way compensate for the lack of a staple like Spanish (and heck, it's the easiest European language there is, which should've meant kids should've been encouraged to study it and then go on to read it at University). And judging by some of the contributions to this thread, it's a shame that compulsory spelling lessons weren't available.

O yeah, wow, we had Chapel on offer. Pardon me while I poop my pants with excitement.
Last edited by Spoonbill on Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:26 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by kaaa »

I've never been back.

I've meant to a few times, but either missed the OB date from not being informed in time (the magazine would arrive 3 weeks after the date!) or through being in a different country at the time.

I have mixed feelings about the place. My parents paid full fees because the fee structure was warped - ie there were kids there going for free because the parents had divorced and they claimed it was only the mother's income (part-time secretary) and neglected to mention the wealthy banker father's income. I think that situation has been fixed more recently. We also didnt know any almoners because my father was not a Mason (being one of the few Catholics in the school).

There were a lot of opportunities and the structure of the classrooms, supervised coursework and homework, longer school days/hours and smaller class sizes are/were superior to comprehensives.

But the out-of-school activities were on a par (if not worse) to the state college I attended for 6th form. We had to pay for my music lessons, for example. In the state school we had a weight's gym, a swimming pool, sports halls, hockey clubs, music clubs, drama classes, etc. And we didnt have to pay for those.

I guess what taints my overall experience were the number of truly awful girls I encountered - I found out as an adult that they had really messed up home lives, so whilst I can forgive the bitchiness & the physical & mental bullying, it's not something I will forget.

There were however, some really nice girls there as well, and I hope to meet back up with some of them at some point in my life.
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Post by Great Plum »

I think my experiences at CH are different to many as I was there in the 1990's.

The scope and breadth of what you could do there was amazing.

The sports centre was fabulous (and I don't like sport!)

I was in plays and helped with stage crew.

I played in the marching band, in choirs, sang in cathedrals, played in the orchestra, played 2 insturments and got singing lessons.

I wnet to Austria with the Venture Scouts.

I went to South Africa on a cricket tour.

I went to Germany on a German study visit

I went to France on a Geography field trip.

There are a lot of extra curricular activities at the school.

I also do not think I would have the confiende that I have today, and I know I would never be able to talk to girls etc.
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Post by Ash »

Not a bad school. But bullying was rife in my day so I had a **** sh1t time there.

If any of you who bullied me or some of my friends are on this forum, well, can I just say you should hang your heads in shame. You know who you are. I hope you have grown out of it. If not I pity your wives/husbands/children.

Left when I was 16. Due to being as naughty as I could. By the end I hated it there and was caught smoking/drinking at least 5 times a week. I just couldn't give a toss.. I had so many detentions/drills one week that I had to do a whole weekend of hard labour as well as doing specially organised quadruple detentions on Saturday which I then never turned up to!

Like I say. I couldn't give a damn. I wanted out.

This didnt have any adverse affect... I ended up with a degree and have a good career, etc.. No thanks to CH though...

And no, I'm not bitter either.. I just don't think under the surface CH was all it was cracked up to be. I do hope it is better today. It badly needed modernising in my day.
Last edited by Ash on Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by englishangel »

Was there a drama/performing arts o'level in the 70's?

Spoonbill, I don't think I was nasty, get a life.

And as for spelling and grammar, yours is not perfect. You began at least one sentence with a preposition. (sic)
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Post by Euterpe13 »

Interesting and varied reactions.

The CH I ( and M.V.) knew was definitely 19th century, but so large a part of our lives ( remember, we spent 8 months a year there, with no exeat weekends or away-days - visits were 3 Saturdays a term), that it is not surprising that, for a short period anyway, we returned " to the nest" , and this despite loathing the place whilst there. In the 60/70's bullying, both physical and psychological, was every bit as rife in Hertford as in Horsham - but after 7 years, CH was almost more home than " home". ( ce qui ne me tue pas me rend plus fort ?)

I went back several times, even having lunch in the Dining Room. Last visit for the '84 OG reunion, before the move, when I drove all the way from Marseille to be there. I have not been back since , apart from my visits to Horsham, when my son was there. I must say that I was very disappointed and indeed worried at the time by what CH seemed to have become - he was bullied and beaten to the point where he ran away, with very little interest or concern from his Housemaster or other staff, and the much-vaunted " caring ethos" of CH was distressingly absent.

One might have thought that physical abuse would have been wiped out by the '90s, but not so . He hated the place and has never, ever wanted to go back.


So this of course begs the question: why did I send him there , when I had been unhappy myself ? Because, despite the agonies, tears, heartbreak and general frustration in my years in Hertford, I nevertheless recognised what CH had given me - a good , academic and eclectic education, a capacity to integrate in any environment, and above a resilience and strength of character which has helped me get through a myriad of crappy situations .... and this is perhaps the true value of CH.

I also dispute the lack of activities/possibilities - I received an excellent musical education, played sports in all weathers ( not necessarily willingly...) , learnt russian, french and german, had basic spanish from Miss Thompson, acted, painted, threw pots ( stop laughing Mary) and learnt to both cook and sew. I also try to avoid ending sentences with a preposition ( Miss Morrison's influence).

So, Spoonbill, sorry but don't think that Englishangel was particularly hard on you - I agree with her : get over it, and recognise all the things CH did give you, rather that all the things you feel it didn't

end of rant - back to my own personal salt mines
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Post by Ash »

Yeah it's all character building I suppose..

Having said that I am very disappointed to hear that bullying was still very bad at the school in the 90's.

I suppose that has all changed now, what with government legislation recently, etc.

Still.. I did have some good moments.. ;)
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Post by Great Plum »

Yes there was bullying at the school in the 1990's but if I am honest, it was no more than in other schools from what I have found out chatting to friends at uni/ work etc who were in the state system at the time.

And if i was to answer the original question, I frequently go back to CH, bt that's because my parents live there! :lol:
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Post by Ash »

Yep, no worse than any other school, except that there was nowhere to go to escape from it, don't forget....

At least at a state school you could go home.
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