Elizabeth Cairncross

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marty
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by marty »

Food in the late 80s/early 90s really was dreadful. When I started the “food” for all 3 meals was dealt out by the older boys which meant that anything “nice” such as chips often didn’t make it down to the younger ones. At some point (I don’t recall when) breakfast & tea was switched to “cafeteria style” which stopped that from happening although lunch remained the same lottery.

There was one senior house (again I don’t recall which) that would loudly vocalise their displeasure in unison at being served the same unimaginative dish, usually the phrase: “Oh no! Not sponge again!”
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by Martin »

Having experienced CH after World War 2, when food rationing included the rationing of potatoes and bread (both freely available during the war), I find the recent correspondence about the food problems during the 70s, 80s, etc, incredible. In my days the food was adequate though repetitive, unimaginative and portions were not large. One could eat as much bread (from Prewett’s the Horsham bakers) as one wished (but margarine and marmalade/jam were strictly limited). Unpopular dishes (I remember the very frequent Housey Stew containing the most inedible, gristly pieces of meat) were available as seconds. So one could always fill up, in principle, and no one went hungry, although very, very frequently we were dissatisfied with the cuisine. Food helpings were unequal (“Fair shares, not equal shares,” for the juniors got less), but it was never too blatant. Some housemasters (admittedly a minority) were keenly aware of what went on in their houses and in the Dining Hall. Mine was such a one. His presence at the midday meal ensured any portion size disparity was not excessive.

There was bullying of course, but this never (I must repeat never) included any deprivation of food in my experience. Also there was abuse of boys by some masters, in the two decades after the war. (I strongly suspect this was true in every decade up to the present.) Some such masters sometimes suddenly disappeared, without any official comment. An enterprising researcher could possibly deduce how many from entries in The Blue. But in addition there were some masters whose abuse continued for decades. This sort of long term abuse (typically touching genitals) seemed to be generally accepted by the boys. I suspect the authorities were unaware of it, whatever suspicions they may have had. Their efforts in curbing such abuse seemed to be directed rather towards that between boys. There were consequent expulsions every couple of years or so. Complaints by boys about any abuse were virtually unknown. On one very well-known occasion after such a complaint against a master who had been at CH for decades, there was instant action and his dismissal within hours.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by AMP »

In the 80s it felt like you had to man up and not be a wimp.
I think that's why everyone kept it to themselves.
Nobody wanted to be viewed as a wimp or a nuisance.
Last edited by AMP on Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by sejintenej »

Martin wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:10 am In my days the food was adequate though repetitive, unimaginative and portions were not large. One could eat as much bread (from Prewett’s the Horsham bakers) as one wished (but margarine and marmalade/jam were strictly limited). Unpopular dishes (I remember the very frequent Housey Stew containing the most inedible, gristly pieces of meat) were available as seconds. So one could always fill up, in principle, and no one went hungry, although very, very frequently we were dissatisfied with the cuisine. Food helpings were unequal (“Fair shares, not equal shares,” for the juniors got less), but it was never too blatant.
There was bullying of course, but this never (I must repeat never) included any deprivation of food in my experience.
For the benefit of younger members, in the era under discussion each house ate at one long table - monitors at the kitchen end plated up the food which was distributed by junior boys. Of course, sometimes the distribution went wrong but borrowing from other houses ensured that everyone got fed. AFAIR there was little difference between the portions.

Yes, during rationing the food was pretty awful to virtually inedible especially the stew. When we got a new supervisor in the kitchen the food got infinitely better both in quality and variation. (That was about the end of rationing) Just once the variation went wrong - I am sure Peele A were offended by the stench of tripe so just think about poor Col B. I just wonder if a single bit was lifted to a mouth; it was disgusting though at least they did try to vary the diet a bit more.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by Avon »

marty wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:14 am There was one senior house (again I don’t recall which) that would loudly vocalise their displeasure in unison at being served the same unimaginative dish, usually the phrase: “Oh no! Not sponge again!”
There was a similar refrain about fruit, in which case it was Pe. A.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by AMP »

Pe.A wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:39 pm
AMP wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:31 am
Pe.A wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:05 am

Not that I am an expert on CH in the 70s and 80s, but could you pls explain this one?
The school hadn't been modernised since the victorian era and the food was mostly inedible. Different for those who ate on the dais. And dais trades was a privilege as you got to nick some toast and orange juice.

Dining room seating was by house and based on each table of 14 having a combination of years from a monitor at one end dealing out the food to the most junior at the other end, literally at the end of the food chain. You never got seconds unless you found a tray in one of the trolleys near the end of dining time and you were permanently hungry for the most part, without really realising it. Tuck parcels from home were a godsend. Fruit cake was a filler.

I have recently heard that some boy squits were deliberately withheld food and had to go begging from girls' tables.
Ok. But with regards to your claiming the food was inedible, how bad was it in the 80s in relative terms compared to schools dinners in state schools, or indeed in other independent schools? My recollection from the start of the 90s was that if anything could be hit or miss, it was lunches. Breakfasts and tea were all about hash brown, beans and sausages. Hardly prison fare.
The food at my ILEA primary school in the 70s was excellent.
A bottle of milk in the morning.
My free school dinner was always hot food and enjoyable.
Pie, beans, chips, that sort of thing.
Chocolate sponge cake with hot chocolate sauce or mint whip to follow.
And there were nearly 600 of us.
So it was possible.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by Pe.A »

AMP wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:58 pm
Pe.A wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:39 pm
AMP wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:31 am
The school hadn't been modernised since the victorian era and the food was mostly inedible. Different for those who ate on the dais. And dais trades was a privilege as you got to nick some toast and orange juice.

Dining room seating was by house and based on each table of 14 having a combination of years from a monitor at one end dealing out the food to the most junior at the other end, literally at the end of the food chain. You never got seconds unless you found a tray in one of the trolleys near the end of dining time and you were permanently hungry for the most part, without really realising it. Tuck parcels from home were a godsend. Fruit cake was a filler.

I have recently heard that some boy squits were deliberately withheld food and had to go begging from girls' tables.
Ok. But with regards to your claiming the food was inedible, how bad was it in the 80s in relative terms compared to schools dinners in state schools, or indeed in other independent schools? My recollection from the start of the 90s was that if anything could be hit or miss, it was lunches. Breakfasts and tea were all about hash brown, beans and sausages. Hardly prison fare.
The food at my ILEA primary school in the 70s was excellent.
A bottle of milk in the morning.
My free school dinner was always hot food and enjoyable.
Pie, beans, chips, that sort of thing.
Chocolate sponge cake with hot chocolate sauce or mint whip to follow.
And there were nearly 600 of us.
So it was possible.
600 children in one primary school...?
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by AMP »

Pe.A wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:32 pm
AMP wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:58 pm
Pe.A wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:39 pm

Ok. But with regards to your claiming the food was inedible, how bad was it in the 80s in relative terms compared to schools dinners in state schools, or indeed in other independent schools? My recollection from the start of the 90s was that if anything could be hit or miss, it was lunches. Breakfasts and tea were all about hash brown, beans and sausages. Hardly prison fare.
The food at my ILEA primary school in the 70s was excellent.
A bottle of milk in the morning.
My free school dinner was always hot food and enjoyable.
Pie, beans, chips, that sort of thing.
Chocolate sponge cake with hot chocolate sauce or mint whip to follow.
And there were nearly 600 of us.
So it was possible.
600 children in one primary school...?
Three classes of about 32 per year
6 years
2 playgrounds fortunately
2 outdoor toilets including about 10 cubicles
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by Pe.A »

AMP wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:43 pm
Pe.A wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:32 pm
AMP wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:58 pm
The food at my ILEA primary school in the 70s was excellent.
A bottle of milk in the morning.
My free school dinner was always hot food and enjoyable.
Pie, beans, chips, that sort of thing.
Chocolate sponge cake with hot chocolate sauce or mint whip to follow.
And there were nearly 600 of us.
So it was possible.
600 children in one primary school...?
Three classes of about 32 per year
6 years
2 playgrounds fortunately
2 outdoor toilets including about 10 cubicles
Wow, that's still a very big primary school.

The one I went to in the same ILEA, although 7-11, was just over 200...
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by jhopgood »

My Junior school has 3 classes of 40 per year, meaning there were close on 500 of us. Add three years of infants and we must have been over 600.
Still in touch with some of my last year in Juniors, as we got together in about 2004 when the building was 100 years old. As well as the main building there was an annexe next to the kitchens and art room, 2 huts and a further annex with 3 huts for the third year about a 20 minutes walk from the school.
Can't remember much about the food, as there were two sittings, juniors first then infants. Until caught we would hide in the outside toilets until the first sitting was full, and then we had the whole playground for football, played with a tennis ball.
Apart from leather masquerading as meat for Sunday lunch, CH food was edible for mass produced food.
Can't have been too bad as most of us are still around.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by eucsgmrc »

AMP wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:31 am The school hadn't been modernised since the victorian era and the food was mostly inedible.
Not true.

The school was brand new, very modern and equipped to a high standard when it came into use in 1902. It was by no means a typical Victorian institution.

That said, the 1902 kitchens were still in use in 1954, and the food they turned out was far from appetising. Nobody could call it ample either, but it was well above starvation level and nobody was malnourished.

In 1955 (I think) the kitchens were comprehensively refitted, and the food began to improve. By the time I left in 1962, it was tolerably good, for institutional food. There were several items on the menu that we positively looked forward to (but the army food we got at CCF camps was better).

From what I'm reading here, it seems that food was one of several things that got worse in the 70s. I had no idea. How would I? But I now feel uncomfortable (to say the least) that I assumed everything about CH would be as good as, or better than, what I experienced.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by sejintenej »

eucsgmrc wrote: Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:02 am There were several items on the menu that we positively looked forward to (but the army food we got at CCF camps was better).
Two things I remember about annual camp at Aldershot; a) someone let off a fire extinguisher inside a tank and there was a stink and b) the food was worse than CH and the liquid for washing plates was filthy.
From what I'm reading here, it seems that food was one of several things that got worse in the 70s. I had no idea. How would I? But I now feel uncomfortable (to say the least) that I assumed everything about CH would be as good as, or better than, what I experienced.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by AMP »

eucsgmrc wrote: Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:02 am
AMP wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:31 am The school hadn't been modernised since the victorian era and the food was mostly inedible.
Not true.

The school was brand new, very modern and equipped to a high standard when it came into use in 1902. It was by no means a typical Victorian institution.

That said, the 1902 kitchens were still in use in 1954, and the food they turned out was far from appetising. Nobody could call it ample either, but it was well above starvation level and nobody was malnourished.

In 1955 (I think) the kitchens were comprehensively refitted, and the food began to improve. By the time I left in 1962, it was tolerably good, for institutional food. There were several items on the menu that we positively looked forward to (but the army food we got at CCF camps was better).

From what I'm reading here, it seems that food was one of several things that got worse in the 70s. I had no idea. How would I? But I now feel uncomfortable (to say the least) that I assumed everything about CH would be as good as, or better than, what I experienced.
I was mainly thinking about the accomodation, but thank you for correcting me. And of course, there was the Arts Centre, the Octagon and the Modern Languages lab, to name but some.

I should have said the food was mostly dreadful, not inedible, otherwise I wouldn't be here to criticise it 40 years later. And touch wood, I still have a few miles left on the clock.

Some meals like beef stew were inedible.

Fry Ups were dreadful.
Overcooked sausages, fried bread which had obviously been deep fat fried. Bacon, mostly rind. Soggy white bread was disgusting.

Waffles/Hash Browns and beans was good. But not difficult.

Occasional pastry pie was bordering on the excellent.

But my overall rating has to be dreadful.

I categorise the food with the spartan conditions, although I am more resentful about the quality of the food, but I can live with that.

My real beef (excuse the pun) is obviously the sexual abuse and that some boys were deliberately deprived of food.
Last edited by AMP on Mon Apr 27, 2020 3:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by richardb »

In the 1970s many of the meals incorporated " kesp" which was a textured vegetable protein used as a substitute for meat.

What felt at times like the virtual disappearance of meat leaves me wondering whether the school was some sort of guinea pig fro kesp in the way that Dr Trevor Hoskins used the pupils as guinea pigs for flu vaccinations etc.
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Re: Elizabeth Cairncross

Post by J.R. »

Aren't we wandering off topic here ??

I do know that Doctor 'Tommy' Scott had a lot to do with dietary improvements !)
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