Saturday, March 22, 2008

A trip to the talkies

It was indeed Charly!! Thank you blogworld (and the uncommentable V). I had thought so last night when I the memory of it flickered past in reference to something or other was having an insightful conversation with my lovely V about states of consciousness.

Glad we all got that worked out - but man, how good was the school, eh? We also got to see such beauties as Romeo and Juliet - yes, the Olivia Hussey version of 1968 (must have got a job lot from that year) and The Car - a relatively recent bomb from 1977.

(Just to clue you in, I was not born when 2 of those 3 movies were made and was still a child for the other, so they were made several movie seasons before the school showed them as the weekend movie for the boarders).

Every Saturday night, we were compelled by the staff of the school to watch the weekly movie in the old chapel. This was to ensure that we let our parents know how well we were treated in Jail at boarding school and set their minds at rest as to their having left their little darlings (and large school fees) in good hands.

You know that the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet had a 15 year old playing Juliet? In the reel version shown at school, her voice was deeper than a grown man!

I went to boarding school in a town on the Tropic of Capricorn. You know, that ring around the world that says "mild weather" to the South of it, and "stinking hot" to the North?

The school year always kicked off in the heat of January, just as the cyclone season was starting to get a bit serious. Cyclones also knew the TOC line and respected it, always choosing to hover around it while it decided to create devastation to the North, or flooding to the South.

If far-flung boarders were lucky, one hit at the right time to delay their trip back to school for a few weeks - we were never quite far-flung enough to throw our timing.

Day girls could count on at least one good cyclone causing school to be cancelled and they could miss a day or so in the first few weeks - pity the plight of the boarder who was there. Stuck there.

Firstly, to fill the time, we had lots of "prep". Prep was when you had to sit in silence in a classroom with your school books and do whatever homework there was.

Of course, it mattered not to the boarding mistresses who presided over such torture that school had only been back a manner of days and we still had NFI what we were going to study that year, let alone do homework.

All that mattered to them was silence, it was bucketing down outside therefore they could not force us outside for a drenching (although they may have thought it well deserved), they could not leave us to our own devices in the boarding houses (because, OMG, consider adolescent girls cooped up in bedrooms for hours - and then multiply by 200) and maintaining silence - because
  • (a) mistresses are badly paid women who should be able to do better jobwise, but life has dealt them a harsh blow and they are all recovering from breakdowns (okay, 90% of them) (and the other 10% will not be far off after dealing with boarders), and
  • (b) far less rebellions succeed if conducted in silence.

Occasionally (like if it is the sixth straight day of cyclone warnings) the powers that be would rummage through the troves of movies available for hire in the reel version and take pity on us.

One such time was when providence sent the school such a title towards the end of one cyclone. Hurrah - the mistresses could stop haranguing us to do unset prep, they could coop us in one room with only one required to man the doors and the rest of the staff could take a well-earned tipple with the kitchen staff.

Unfortunately, the matron (who had been promoted to such a post due to her proximity and relative cheapness, not due to any aspirations to nursing) had thought Little Darlings must have been something like Seven Little Australians, which had met with such adult approval the decade previous.

It took about 20 minutes into the first reel before the sole mistress on duty discovered the mistake and raised the alarm - 20 minutes of such freedom had been unleashed onto very bored teenage girls, and then taken from our grasp as we were advised that the night's entertainment had been cancelled, and we could chose to do prep or watch a movie in the schools coffers (called The Turning Point).

But the disappointment was too great, really, and the moment of discovering teenage angst wrenched from our grip was too much for us. We chose prep over watching more grown women wrestle with theirs. We could do that anyway, any day - in prep.


Lightening said...

That was really interesting. Have you written other posts about your boarding school days? The closest I ever got to boarding school was in a book. :)

JaniceNW said...

OK ya little nipper, stop reminding me how freakin' old I am. Jeez. I was born when the movies were made. :P~~~~~

(wink with an ancient eyelid)

Melody said...

Like Lightening, this was really interesting and the closest I ever got to boarding school was also in books (& movies)...

Just how good is the internet for finding out things you want to know? (& blog mates for that matter!)

I've tagged you for a Meme by the way. Don't worry, it is a rather short and sweet one...

shishyboo said...

i used to love rainy days at primary school. the whole school (about 80 kids) could fit into the tiny library / tv room and they would put videos on of things like Flash Gordon, Superman and more often than not those religious mini series that were all the rage in the 80's. all the stuff we weren't allowed to watch at home hee hee!

Julie Pippert said...

I remember getting to watch that Romeo and Juliet version in 9th grade I think it was and oh it was SO racy to us then...we thought we were having one over the adults LOL.

What an interesting look into your school life!

Alison said...

Woah. I've never really had the opportunity to appreciate what boarding school would be like. Thanks for the insight.
The rebel in me is desperately trying to formulate silent take over plans.
Any tips.. Or first hand experience..? ;)

Mama Zen said...

Little Darlings. Classic!

Just-Me-Jen said...

ROFL - guess they wished they had screened their movies better!
Boarding school sounds miserable...
Glad you escaped with your sense of humor intact. :-)

jeanie said...

Lightening, Melody, Alison, Jen - ha ha - I forgot that boarding school was not everyone's experience.

I always knew I was going so it wasn't daunting - it had its good moments and its bad, but all in all I got a great education (unavailable due to remoteness and crapness of high school 50km away).

I should blog about it a bit some time, but this is the first time I have done so here.

Janice - it was not the age of the films, per se - but the age of the films when my school showed them!

Thanks for the meme Melody - am racking my brains and will respond.

Alison - I shall give you the secrets soon!

shish - remember The Magic Bag? That was the exciting entertainment on the primary school library tele at our school.

Julie - I love that version of R&J - you never forget your first, do you?

Mama Zen - I still have not seen the full movie.

Jen - you gotta laugh.

Jay said...

Wow, did they base a disney character on your childhood?

baby~amore' said...

I loved reading boarding school books as a child. Very interesting ... the naughtist girl in school tales hey !
I can't wait to hear more.

jeanie said...

Jay - unfortunately, no. Frances Hodgson Burnett may have had a hand in the early scripting, though.

baby-amore - trust me, the books are far better than the real thing!