I watched a ‘Cutting Edge’ documentary last night about parents sending their 8yr old children to boarding school. Mainly, they focussed on separation issues and homesickness, but the prep school they went to looked very comfortable. Almost like a holiday camp. The teachers were very understanding (on camera, anyway) and were always on hand to offer sympathy and support. The school nurse was particularly good, and the other children were great at looking after their homesick friends. Some of them didn’t even want to go home at weekends when they had the opportunity. All very commendable.
But how things have changed since my day; it wasn’t all Hogwarts and midnight feasts and jolly japes back then, you know. Back then, being homesick was a weakness and it could be exploited, so you kept it to yourself. Our nurse (sister as we called her) would look down at you with a semi-sympathetic expression and say ‘bite the bullet‘ in an Australian accent, but that was about it. Oh, and breakfast looked like a friendly, chirpy affair in the modern prep school, all the children chatting and getting stuck in, but it was never like that in days of yore, y’know. Sitting in silence while the housemaster scanned the tables like the all-seeing eye of the Dark Lord Sauron was our morning treat, but only after we’d had our beds, lockers and shoes inspected (a visit to the housemaster’s study if it was unaccaptable). No pictures on the wall in our dorms, like they had on the telly last night. No phone calls home. And talking after lights out? Fugeddaboudit. If you got caught doing that, it was ‘my office, after breakfast‘ so, for the rest of the night and the duration of breakfast, you were wondering if he was going to give you an essay or pass his special slipper across your backside. You want to know what it was like in those days, go watch ‘If….’ with Macolm McDowell. Only thing we didn’t have was the final show-down with bren guns on the roof of the school hall. How we cheered when we saw THAT film.
Kids these days, huh? They don’t know how good they’ve got it.