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 Post subject: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 14:46 
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Whilst watching a BBC 2 programme on the history of popular culture the other day, I wondered (as you do :lol: ) what the staff might have done to liven up life on the Gornetz Platz. Not that many of them had to be on duty in the evenings and at weekends, and they surely can't have spent all their time in the staffroom. In the early days there is some opportunity for staff to bring their own interests to the school, e.g. Guiding or (Miss Durrant) country dancing, but in Switzerland it doesn't happen as much, apart from Kathie getting involved with school plays.

The school had quite a lot of teachers by then, plus Rosalie, and then there were Hilary, Phoebe and various others living nearby, plus the nurses at the San (we don't hear much about them, but it seems to have been a very British organisation so it's likely that a lot of them were expats), so that's a sizeable group of women who must all have longed for a break from work/home and didn't have the usual family/church/neighbour networks which most people in the 1950s would have had. I don't know if book clubs were going in the 1950s, but that's something they could have organised, or sewing/knitting circles, quiz evenings, or for something more adventurous they could have set up their own small choir/orchestra or a sports team, or those who were off duty could have gone for rambles at weekends, or visits to the theatre in Interlaken.

The doctors must have got involved with some sort of social activities, as well. Maybe Jack had a billiard room put in at the San, or a mini golf course built in the grounds :lol: . Mr Embury organises a works cricket team for a match against the CS (I'm sure all these blokes must have so loved playing a match against a bunch of schoolgirls, but the thought was there :lol: ), and maybe the doctors had something similar ... although there'd've been no-one for them to play against! Card games?

I just can't imagine them all hanging around at the school/San all the time - they'd've gone mad! & small isolated communities do normally seem to come up with organised activities.

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 15:10 
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I can see the staff at the San organising social activities, dances, sports, drama etc and having a good time, but unfortunately the CS ethos, headed by Jo, seems to suggest that activities with the girls is the best fun ever. She regularly turns up at evening events, Spot Supper as a great evening out which might say something of her own social life. I wonder if the staff inwardly groan at having to sit through more tableaux, sheets and pillowcases etc.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 15:43 
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I quite like the idea of Grizel, the person who came up with the original idea for the Hobbies Club, reviving it for the staff as a one evening a week event at her house, complete with wine and nibbles, with Neil being booted out of the house to go round and play poker with Eugen and Phil, who would be staying in with the kids whilst Biddy and Hilary were round at Grizel's :D .

(That's the original idea as in relaxing by pursuing your own hobby, rather than having to make stuff for whatever stall you've been allocated for the Sale!)

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 17:35 
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I could happily spend my evenings knitting and listening to the radio (Paul Temple would have been around in the 1950s) but the idea of most organised activities makes me want to run away and hide. A hobbies evening at Grizel's could be fun, though.

I don't get the idea that the staff leave the school much at all. They have abendessen and prayers in the evenings, and in the summer they help coach the sports teams. If they only have a couple of hours free before bedtime, maybe they were happy relaxing with their colleagues during the week?

I do think it all sounds claustrophobic in Switzerland in a way that Austria doesn't.

I know there are references to both "staff room" and "staff sitting room" but i've always assumed these were just different ways of talking about the same room. Or were there two rooms, one with desks for working and one with arm chairs?


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 17:39 
I seem to have an inkling of an idea that the San had tennis courts for the Staff?

I am of the view that anything to do with the girls = work, so things like Guides or country dancing would fall into the category of work for me. Free time, for me, is doing what you like with no reference to paid employment. But this would be nigh-on impossible for the Mistresses, at least, wouldn't it? Very, very occasionally there's a mention of someone going away to visit a friend which would be nice because it takes them so far away from work - they can't be got at, I mean!

This aside, it seems that the Prefects or the girls themselves provide so much of their own 'free time', with their Saturday evenings. I wonder if there was any compulsion for the Staff to attend these? Would they have had rota-ed weekends free and have to attend if they were on duty at the weekend?

The thing is that Elinor was such a very social person herself, immersing herself in lots of extrovert-type activities and getting such pleasure from doing things like dramatics, that I wonder if she'd ever conceive of anyone who would not like to be doing things all the time? Or of people who need time out? Does she ever really show this kind of adult preference in the Chalet School books?


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 17:45 
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JB wrote:
I know there are references to both "staff room" and "staff sitting room" but i've always assumed these were just different ways of talking about the same room. Or were there two rooms, one with desks for working and one with arm chairs?

I think there were two rooms, at least in the Swiss books - I couldn't give you the reference for the chapter (or even the book!) that mentions it, but I'm fairly certain that the staff sitting room has a door opening out from the staff room proper, and is a more armchair-y relaxation-y type place, whereas the staff room proper has desks and shelves and what-not, for working.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 19:08 
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But my dears, you haven't mentioned the most time consuming activity of all, in those pre-internet days. They wrote letters!


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 19:10 
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Bulgarianlily wrote:
But my dears, you haven't mentioned the most time consuming activity of all, in those pre-internet days. They wrote letters!

Ye gods, so we did. I'd forgotten how many hours I spent writing letters during the year I spent in Germany aged 17, just left school, very homesick despite living with lovely family. Acres of paper, rivers of ink.....

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 19:38 
I agree that the Platz sounds appallingly claustrophobic for the staff compared to other CS locations. Bar the occasional reference to staff having the odd free weekend, there doesn't seem to be anything to do at all other than sit gossiping in the staff sitting room with the same colleagues you see all day at work and eat all your meals with, or nip over to Freudesheim or Biddy and Hilary's place to see slightly less familiar faces. I even imagine EBD would find someone opting to sit in their bedroom and read, rather than read in the staff sitting room, a bit odd. Letter-writing seems to have been one of the few alibis for wanting time alone!

I agree with whoever said up the thread that EBD simply doesn't conceive of naturally solitary personalities, and is rather suspicious of people (staff or girls) who don't want to join in all the time and be 'one of the crowd'. As I was saying on some other thread, she does depict the worst of all possible punishments as being sent to Coventry by your peers or given solitary confinement by the authorities for a serious misdemeanour, but there are people for whom that would be an enormous relief in the context of the compulsory conviviality of the CS staffroom/ girls' common rooms!

I imagine the CS staff would have thought a mistress who begged off yet another Prefects' Evening of Follow-My-Leader and 'guess the adult from the baby photo' was a really bad sport, unless she had toothache!


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 19:45 
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Wonder if Joan Bertram's 'bilious attacks' were actually her thinking to herself -

'Oh God, not another Prefect's Evening, just when I wanted to curl up with the latest Agatha Christie - I know, can feel a bilious attack starting up...'

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2012, 19:56 
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I miss letter-writing. When I was a kid (primary school age), I used to write letters to my grandparents, and they used to humour me by writing back. It was a ridiculous waste of paper and stamps when we saw and spoke to them on the phone so often :lol:, but I thought it was wonderful. & then at secondary school we used to have French pen-pals.

With all that glorious Alpine countryside, maybe people just went out for walks (preferably without falling down cliffs). Biddy, Hilary and the others never barge into the staffroom or roll up at Spot Supper, so maybe their friends from the school went to visit them. & Nancy and Kathie must have escaped in their little car!

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 02:06 
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Thinking back to when I worked at a sleepaway camp (the closest experience I can muster to the CS!), we had an hour or two off each day and tended to congregate in the staff lounge, exchanging gossip and cigarettes.

Once a week or so, we had an evening off - usually this involved driving out to the local bar, having drinks and occasionally playing pool. We liked that. But the day-to-day thing wasn't so bad, either. (We were largely Old Girls, which may have been an influence.)

I can see life at the CS being much the same. If you don't like that life, you probably wouldn't last long at a boarding school.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 07:14 
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cestina wrote:
Bulgarianlily wrote:
But my dears, you haven't mentioned the most time consuming activity of all, in those pre-internet days. They wrote letters!

Ye gods, so we did. I'd forgotten how many hours I spent writing letters during the year I spent in Germany aged 17, just left school, very homesick despite living with lovely family. Acres of paper, rivers of ink.....


Same here, I spent a period during my teens/early 20s writing to my aunts. Pages and pages to my favourite aunt with loads of jokes, then just a line or 2 at the end asking how she and my uncle were!


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 08:58 
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Pado wrote:
Thinking back to when I worked at a sleepaway camp (the closest experience I can muster to the CS!), we had an hour or two off each day and tended to congregate in the staff lounge, exchanging gossip and cigarettes.

I can see life at the CS being much the same. If you don't like that life, you probably wouldn't last long at a boarding school.


Yep camps are the closest I can come at. Spending so much time with others can be tiring but if you've got a good group can be a lot of fun. All the same I'm always pleased to be home ad by myself again.

With CS they seem to have been exceptionally lucky in that there was really no one, Miss Bubb aside, who set the staff against each other. Most workplaces have someone who you try to associate with as little as possible but at the CS it would have been very difficult to escape these people, especially in Switzerland. I can completely understand why the mistresses coveted their free weekends so much and they must have really cursed anyone who upset the plans.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 10:25 
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Pado wrote:
I can see life at the CS being much the same. If you don't like that life, you probably wouldn't last long at a boarding school.


I think that's very true. And the CS would have been more cloistered than an English school because of its geographical isolation. No wonder they recruited so many old girls.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 12:03 
Pado wrote:
Thinking back to when I worked at a sleepaway camp (the closest experience I can muster to the CS!), we had an hour or two off each day and tended to congregate in the staff lounge, exchanging gossip and cigarettes.


But this sounds very CS!!!

jmc wrote:
With CS they seem to have been exceptionally lucky in that there was really no one, Miss Bubb aside, who set the staff against each other. Most workplaces have someone who you try to associate with as little as possible but at the CS it would have been very difficult to escape these people, especially in Switzerland.


Or what if you were that person? Ostrasized (?sp) by most of your colleagues? It would be dreadful ...


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 19:17 
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I imagine crafts would have been very popular - sketching or painting, knitting, crochet and plain and decorative sewing, particularly if they were making their own clothes.

Between lesson-planning, corrections, classes, prep duty and so on, so I don't think they would have had a lot of free time to start with.


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 27 Feb 2012, 20:31 
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Didn't they all go round to Joey's to listen to Radio 4 or the Home Service or whatever it was? I may be making that up but I think it may be in one of the Swiss books!


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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012, 14:09 
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Cesca wrote:
Didn't they all go round to Joey's to listen to Radio 4 or the Home Service or whatever it was? I may be making that up but I think it may be in one of the Swiss books!


No, I think EBD mentions how famous/popular Joey's radio parties are, and we know it's a long-ranger receiver (??) as that's how she hears that's Ruey's dad has gone missing. Can't remember which book though.

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 Post subject: Re: The staff's free time
PostPosted: 28 Feb 2012, 15:37 
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I think it's Kenya. Madge and Dick bought the radio for Joey for her first Christmas in Switzerland. She's listening to the evening news when she hears about Jo Scott's parents.


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