Dining

                                 The Dining Hall (click to enlarge the picture)
The Dining Hall was situated facing the front centre of the house (in the School Prospectus Hubert Butler calls it the Dining Hall rather than room). It contained six large tables (including one in the veranda) each could seat 12 pupils. A member of staff sat at the head of each table, Mr Butler under the gradfather clock and Major Butler at the far left corner. The door at the far right is from The Butler's private rooms. Announcements were made from the sideboard on the right by ringing a small bell to call for silence.
 
MENU (a list showing a mix of the typical menu items for meals in 1960s)
Monday        Porridge, Savoury mince & mash, Semolina pudding (or queen of puddings)
Tuesday        Porridge, Kippers, Queen of puddings
Wednesday   Porridge, Polony??, Plum pie with custard (Plums in syrup with sweet pastry crust)
Thursday      Porridge, Roast beef, Rice pudding & strawberry jam, Macaroni for supper
Friday           Porridge, Baked fish, Dead Man’s Leg with custard
Saturday       Porridge, Salad, Stew and dumplings for lunch
Sunday         Cornflakes, Half a pork pie or Spam, mash, runner beans (all cold)

The incident of the boy, one Donald Wilson, who spoiled (by spilling) the 'broth'. (Sent by Derrick Gillingham 5th August 2018)
I parenthesise 'broth' because it was in fact chocolate rice, as in a large communal bowl of. The boy in question hailed from Perthshire. He was of an army family and went on to Rannoch, then newly established as a rival to Gordonstoun, but closed in 2002.

The aforesaid Donald, in dutiful mode, entered the dining hall proudly bearing the communal bowl, only to slip on something that had been spilled or dropped on the floor (a banana skin is tempting). Falling backwards, he projected the bowl and its contents into the air, perhaps in the hope that it would not fall with him, but be gathered up as ambrosia by the watching gods. Needless to say, gravity being what it is, nothing of the kind occurred, and (as angels were not bearing it up) the dessert bowl duly descended. 

Donald was a tall boy so that the rice fell from a great height and dispersed over a wide area, which did not exclude his own person. He, therefore, did (unlike the rest of us) get his dessert that day, all of our desserts in fact, and, later on, his own perhaps, in the form of some punishment or other.

Comments from old boys and staff:
“Bit more about food - Friday was baked fish, with Dead Man's Leg for pudding. I know, because for a term or two I cooked Friday's lunch as it was Mrs Shannon's day off. She made the DML before she went, but I had to cope with the fish. All this while teaching in the Playroom!”

"At lunch and dinner a record was always played during the meal and silence was strictly maintained so we could hear the music clearly. A senior boy went to the sideboard, rang the bell and announced the lunchtime record “Pour le premier disque aujourd’hui nous allons entende…”. And of course this changed to “le deuxieme disque” at dinner."

“Sometimes the introduction to the lunch-time record was in French - "Pour mon anniversaire, j'ai choisi...." (usually the Rodetski March!)”

“The records at lunch were a 12-inch with the main course and a 10-inch with pudding in my day. I have therefore always called classical music "Gravy Music" because I visualise meat and two veg with orchestral music. It made a lasting impression on me - sort of aversion therapy treatment, probably because of not being allowed to talk.”

“I only remember the record announcement in French. And remember being terrified of doing my birthday request. Pretty much all 78’s, but for some strange reason a 45 appeared sometime in 1968. The Legend of Xanadu by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (it was No.1 on the Hit Parade 20th March 1968). It became a favourite birthday request, much to the horror of HDB.”
 
"I always looked forward to Thursday when a huge joint of beef or lamb, big enough to feed 70 people, was brought into the dining room and placed on the sideboard. Major Butler would carve it in front of us all while we drooled at the sight and smell of the succulent juicy joint. The meat, gravy and roast potatoes all seemed perfect. How he managed to carve the joint to feed so many of us still amazes me."
 
An email exchange in March 2013 was triggered by Derrick's question about Dead Man's Leg:

From: Derrick Gillingham

Sent:  25 March 2013 15:43

Subject: Do the boys understand the origin of things? The romantic pear, for example.

 
This little dissertation, which makes reference to the odious Wackford Squeers, has great curiosity value and is a neat piece of original thinking.

The passage perhaps explains the origin of our Herculean labours. I blame Dickens myself for putting ideas into people's heads. 

And who would dare assert the advantages of private over state education today (except in terms of wanton privilege)? 

I like the idea that the line between formal instruction and casual learning is not so marked in a boarding establishment. Your comments on this would be of interest. The origins of the food we ate at HH would also be of interest. Dead man's leg?

Note: gaps in the original text are marked by dots here.

 

SQUEERS

I don't suppose many good words have been spoken for the famous Doctor Squeers and I am not going to take up his defence, but I sometimes wonder if he was not the last bedraggled remnant of some system which had originally contained some virtue in it. His scheme of spell window and then go and clean it had at least this virtue that it had not lost sight of the practical side of education. There is a very ........... and in a day school it is much more difficult to find sufficient opportunities of getting boys to go and do things and not just to read and write about them. It is also easier in a Boarding School to avoid the hard and fast line between lessons and ordinary conversation. Boys are quite interested if occasionally one of them is sent to discover the country of origin of some of the food we happen to be eating at a meal and to make an announcement on it and about the route that it has followed from source to our mouths. There is considerable romance in the story of the pear which is plucked in ..... and carried by motor lorry from there to the railway station, by train from there to the ship, by ship to Liverpool, and by train from Liverpool to Windermere and by van from there to here.

 

Wonderful! 

 

From: Gordon Dyer

Sent:  25 Mar 2013, at 19:35

Dead Man’s Leg, also known as Jam Rolly-Polly, was served up with custard on a Friday.

Don’t you remember that heavy, skin-coloured suet with red jam running out of the end?

Gordon.

 

From: Rob Toon

Sent:  Mon 25/03/2013 19:52

The very thought brings on indigestion!! What about Tuesdays Spam Fritters??!!

Rob

From: Richard Welbury

Sent:  Mon 25/03/2013 20:46

....followed by Tuesday evening kippers!

Richard


From: John West

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 09:32

Sardines on toast, French toast

 

From: Peter Fielding

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 09:44

Not to mention Queen of Puddings, semolina, those brilliant sponge puddings some topped with Jam, chocolate sponge with pink custard, baked beans and sticky sausages on Saturdays!
Regards

Pete Fielding

 

From: Andrew West

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 10:19

Does anyone else remember those thin sausages we used to have for Sunday breakfast, I've never tasted any as good since?

Andrew

 

From: Rob Toon

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 10:22

Pink custard....... Oh my God I had to have counselling to try and forget that!!!!

From: Edward Bunting

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 12:09

There was one spell during which we had a star cook in the kitchen who produced a delicious steak and kidney pie.

Edward

 

From: Peter Fielding

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 12:08

Still can't stand greengages, gooseberry's, plums apricots. 

Luckily I do like most other fruits!
Kind regards

Pete Fielding

 

From: Edward Bunting

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 12:18

I remember them well, they were delicious.

Edward

 

From: Allan Ferguson

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 16:02

Does anyone share with me the horrific, haunting memories of an emulsified fat container whose bright scarlet outer skin contained a beige filling of indeterminate origin, the whole masquerading under the name of 'polony sausage'?

For those whose memories need re-acquainting with this culinary offence, I have attached a photo (though the skin on this one is thicker than I remember, so I imagine the Westmorland variant must have provided us with more goodness from the beige stuff).

By comparison, Rob, I am tempted to classify spam fritters as a delicacy.

Regards,
Allan

 

From: David Porter  Koonjewarre Activity Centre

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 20:13

The thought of Rosehip syrup still makes me gag. They were fun days when we picked them though.

David Porter

 

From: Miles Byrne

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 21:18

All things considered...

I miss Spam Fritters!

Miles.

 

From: Clive Mendus

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 21:23

I loved collecting the hips and drinking the rosehip syrup and now I make my own which my 8 year old loves too ! What about Thursday's roast lamb - the privilege of those who'd been on the bike ride ? I can still see it whole and crispy skinned sitting on the table... I'll stop there.

From: Chris Clarke

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 21:58

Rosehip was the best. That's what sticks in my memory more than any other food stuff. 

That and of course the cold baths and morning dips in the lake. 

Remember I came from the tropics of Hong Kong, the only environment I'd know until HH in '53, to cold baths. A major shock to the system. 

Chris Clarke

 

From: David Porter  Koonjewarre Activity Centre

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 22:10

I’m with you there Chris.

For me it was North Borneo to the cold of the Lakes!!! I was particularly susceptible to chapped legs which formed a crust and bled. Matron would thickly smear them with Vaseline. There were many compensations though. Conkers for one!!

On the subject of food...I was reflecting only a few days ago on the delicious Tasmanian apples we had at Elevenses. I’m now in the vicinity, and the apples don’t taste half as good as those ones in the sixties.

 

From: Martin Ward Platt

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 23:28

Gordon -

You don't remember Poloni?  Perhaps it had the property of eradicating bad memories... But I remember it too well.

Martin

 

From: Gordon Dyer

Sent:  Tue 26/03/2013 23:32

Selective senility can be very useful, probably caused by the… what was it? - Poloni !

No I still don’t remember it. When was it served?

Gordon.

 

From: Dick Wivell

Sent:  Wed 27/03/2013 04:11

And on the topic of health supplements what about those translucent looking rugby ball shaped cod liver oil capsules – especially if they burst in your mouth!

Dick Wivell

 

From: Peter Fielding

Sent:  Wed 27/03/2013 09:28

Yeah I thought the rosehip syrup was ace. Remember the chapped legs but whenever I mention this in company and then the vaseline I do receive some sniggers oo er missus!

Remember the Gaelic football and the heavy leather rugby balls once wet that would kill your foot when you kick it! The skating on Wray fields ponds after Mr Newby had scythed off the bull rushes. But if your skate hit the remaining stubble meant you crashed over....oh happy days!

I can recall the polony sausage which I have never been able to source since.

Kind regards

Pete Fielding

 

From: Richard Welbury

Sent:  Wed 27/03/2013 09:38

Yes do remember the polony!

I would also concur on reflection that a spam fritter would be good!

 

From: John West

Sent:  Wed 27/03/2013 11:58

I'd forgotten the Semolina. We were given a small red blob of indeterminate jam in the middle of it, with which we made swirling patterns or mixed it all to a pink hue.

Images of Major B tilting back the huge teapot to clear the spout.

The rice that was served through one year when there was a potato shortage tasted nothing like rice does now - it was  'horrible and foreign'

The cabbage was very dark green and had a strong 'bicarbonate of soda'  taste.

I used to like to let the sugar melt to liquid in the centre of my porridge.

I can't stand the feel of vaseline to this day - no smutty remarks please!

John.

 

From: Peter Fielding

Sent:  Wed 27/03/2013 12:39

I thought the rice pudding ace as we used to get the perk of scraping the bowl. Remember letting the sugar melt in the molten porridge and yes the swirl jam thing.

Always really sore legs from the wet/wind walking back from the rugby fields and then getting in a "hot" bath made it feel like you'd made the water boil!

Kind regards

Pete Fielding

 

From: Peter Fielding

Sent:  Thu 28/03/2013 15:21

And I remember my Father stopping on the drive to let me hide foodage for foraging later. After some boys used to raid the "food holes" I stored mine in the out of bounds Pull Wyke side of the drive...God I was a risk taker! Some cold Heinz spaghetti, baked beans (still love them cold!), Coca-cola.

And then there was the larder raiding party for carrots and anything else we could lay our hands on. Did some raid the tuck cupboard and receive the infamous slipper?Tuck...Cadbury's Extra, sherbet dips, toffee bars and loads more that will no doubt resonate!

Kind regards

Pete Fielding

 

From: Derrick Gillingham

Sent:  Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Hello All,

And thank you, Gordon, for introducing a philosophical note into our discourse. In vain, I fear, and return to the very interesting stream of comments that the subject of HH nosh has inspired.

I did raid the larder at least once, to what effect I don't recall. And I used to bury my tuck in the grounds but, as Peter (Fielding) has observed, there were those among us (bush skulkers) who would shadow tuck-holders to the place of concealment and thereby locate, and then, later, appropriate the goods. All's fair, I suppose.

I received the 'infamous slipper' at least once and, I think, on one further occasion, but not for raiding the tuck cupboard. 

I also recall, with horror, the fish skin attached to the weekly (?) portion of cod, or whatever passed for cod at HH. The skin in question was thick, swart, and matt (long dull and more than dead) rather than fresh and glossy (though that too would have been hard to swallow). It had a snakelike, distinctly reptilian pattern. On one occasion Miss Nash forced me to consume the same dubious substance. I retched repeatedly as I struggled to force it, parcel by horrid parcel, down my reluctant gullet. Great gobbets of it. I didn't much care for Miss Nash after that. Peter Royds, I know, has similar memories of having to consume the dermal horror.

I have always enjoyed fish (at least after HH) and continue to eat it on a regular basis, but I avoid cod and always remove every last scrap of the skin. Huyton Hill conditioning lasts a lifetime! And, mostly, for the best.

Stand by for further dispatches - more of HDB's dissertations, before resuming the theme of flight (including two intriguing little details relating to matters already raised, and, in one case, involving a little detective work).

Hope this finds all of you well, and have a happy Easter (a sunny one would be good!)

Derrick

 

From: John West

Sent: Fri 29/03/2013 19:31

I think Britain was still Christian then and we had fish on Fridays. I'm not much of anything now, but my wife is Catholic and wouldn't have our usual Friday meal of Chilli today - I made her poached eggs. Perhaps I'm being a bit picky - I certainly wouldn't have said it to her - but isn't that junior chicken?

And for all you vegetarians out there - I understand that if you put a certain kind of probe in a tomato - when you cut it, it screams!

So, back to the 'bread and cheese plant' from the steep path from the Boat House to School

best Regards

John

 

From: Chris Brand

Sent:  Sun 31/03/2013 17:55

Derrick has opened up a can of worms here and managed to raise food phobias that have lain dormant for years. I can see that there will be a great demand for counselling over the next week or so by individuals who happened to be at a strange prep school in the Lake District where they were forced to take cold baths on wintery days. The various e-mails are clearly having a detrimental effect on me since my wife reports that I am beginning to have nightmares and shout words such as ‘spam fritters’, ‘dead man’s legs’, ‘polony sausages’ and, worst of all, ‘pink custard’. I think the words that she has really worried about are ‘matron’ and ‘Vaseline’ which apparently appear in the same sentence! She has now threatened to make me wipe my plate after the main course with white bread and then eat my pudding off it! HH has a lot to answer for (as well as Derrick)!

Gordon – do you really think that you are going to get some erudite discourse about Hubert’s philosophies from former HH pupils when a discussion on food is the alternative!

Chris

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