Monday, December 12, 2016

English school horrors - girls' own version

From an otherwise not very interesting TLS review of a book about life in girls' boarding schools in the mid 20th century (I don't exactly expect it to fly off the shelf), I was amused by this particular paragraph:
The louche prize, however, goes to Caroline (Lady) Cranbrook’s 1940s memories of a place called Wings: a grand house, and a drunken headmistress with a fag and crème de menthe ever at hand, encouraging the school sport of rugby (“Jump on me, girls, jump on me!”). She made them dance with her armless, First World War veteran father, whose stumps without prostheses they had to cling to. Biology in the old kitchen involved dissecting an aborted foal. So many teachers left that Cranbrook at fifteen taught two subjects herself and put the five-year-old boarders to bed. When inspectors came she was given make-up so that they would think she was a teacher. Eventually, with difficulty, she smuggled out a letter “betraying” the school. After Wings closed, rumours spread – one had the headmistress knocking out a girl’s tooth in assembly “because she didn’t like the way she was looking at her”.

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