Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Unexpected Wisdom.


                                   

A friend recently invited me for 'Sherry' (very rare here), and it reminded me of a bizarre incident with my 'housemaster', about two weeks before I left school.

Three or four of us were in our study, enjoying our regular early evening glass of Sherry, when in he barged (without knocking) and shouted "Are you gentlemen DRINKING?"

"We always have a small Sherry at this time of day, Sir". I explained, calmly.

"SHERRY?" he bellowed "Don't you know that the drinking of alcohol is against school rules?".

"I'm afraid I've never seen a copy of the 'school rules', Sir" I replied.

"It should be taken for granted, Sir" he ranted, as we continued to sip our very cheap British Sherry. "It should be obvious to everyone". The room fell uncomfortably silent as he screwed at the corner of his gown; a regular sign that he was not happy.

"May I be so bold as to offer you a glass, Sir?" I asked, not knowing quite what else to say.

"Well, that's very kind of you" he replied "I think I just have time for a small one". I poured him a glass, and we all sat down to continue our conversation.

With just a few days left of term (and of our leaving, to join the big wide world), I imagine that he suddenly realised that we were young men, rather than school boys, and that we should be treated as such.

N.B. I remember that cheap Sherry well. It was called 'English Rose' British Sherry; and was ghastly, but very cheap. Our cigarettes, on the other hand, were always very expensive; we usually smoked Abdullah No 36 (?), small oval cigarettes with gold tips.

Why cheap Sherry, but very expensive cigarettes, I really don't know; but that's how it was!


28 comments:

  1. Never tasted sherry, but for some reason I've always associated the name with the drink my uncle mixed for me when I was a little girl: coca cola with a splash of grenadine syrup. I think they're actually called Shirley Temples. I loved having my own little "cocktail".

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  2. It's a good story. The world could do with a few more men like the housemaster. So many times men follow rules blindly without ever thinking about particular circumstances.

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    1. He instantly changed, in our minds, from an 'old fool' to a 'human being'.

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  3. I have ha d two dreams this week about Sherry, and now this. What is wrong with me doctor?

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    1. You've been listening to too many 'Four Seasons' records.

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  4. Isn't that Jimmy ??? from Whacko! I remember cheap sherry well, we used to take empty bottles to the 'offy' and get them filled - cheap as chips, disgusting but all we could afford - ahh those were the days.

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    1. I bet that 'on tap' Sherry was British too. Dreadful.

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  5. I am in awe of your calm confidence in the face of authority. Lovely story. Encore, encore!

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  6. Like Katherine, I'm impressed and a little awed by your story, Cro. I can picture it as a scene in a movie. Brilliant!

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  7. We used to smoke Sobranie cigarettes if we were trying to look sophisticated or St. Moritz. I used to try and smoke Gauloisesor Gitanes as I thought tey were cool, but they were too strong for me. If I was on a health kick it would be Silk Cut but you had to drag so hard to get anything out of them !! I gave up about 25 years ago but I still fancy a cigarette ….. I haven't given in yet though !
    Jimmy Edwards takes me back. XXXX

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    1. I smoked un-tipped Gauloises for most of my life. I stopped about 15 years ago, and have never had any desire to start again.

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  8. I'm just trying to imagine how the situation would have gone down if it had been a girls school. Can't imagine a similar result, can you????

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    Replies
    1. They would have drunk something much more sophisticated.

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  9. Jimmy Edwards once lusted after me here on the streets of Bath (when I was a young man...)

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    1. Lucky you. His hunt (The Old Surrey and Burstow) used to hold their first meet of the year at my prep' school, but he never lusted after me!

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  10. My mother named me "Sherry" and her maiden name was Champagne. Legend has it I came close to having "Brandy" as a middle name. The name of Sherry Brandy Champagne might have led me to another career instead of scientific pursuits so I suspect I didn't miss out any.

    I have been gifted Sherry on occasion and found that I do like it for sipping with a good movie and some cheese and fruit!

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    1. Dry Sherry is very good in cooking too.

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  11. How perfect that you offered him a drink and he sat down and joined you and your mates. If it had gone another way, it would not be a sweet memory for you all. I bet the headmaster remembered it with a smile also.

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    1. It would have been a bit harsh to have sacked us all.

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  12. Maybe it was just a test to see how grown up you really were. You passed by the way.

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  13. I liked this post
    You treated him with respect
    And he decided to to do the same

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  14. I don't drink. I tried smoking once, don't know what it was. But I ended up coughing so got afraid of it.

    Really great House Master of yours. Even greater was the cool head that you kept at that time. I would surely have panicked.

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  15. How sophisticated you were... by my standards, anyway. When I was in school, students drank beer. I don't like beer, so I didn't drink. Now if I'd been offered sherry, I might have accepted. I sure like it now, anyway, at least for cooking.

    Neat story. You handled the situation well, and the housemaster turned out to be a decent fella.

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  16. Such grown-ups we all were then. No cigarettes or drinking until after I was married. Love Bristol Cream Sherry then. Sadly, it is off the list of pleasurable things.

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  17. My mother liked sherry, and we usually had a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry on hand. I tried it, but didn't care for it.

    I preferred spirits to beer or wine and always liked scotch. At one American football game in college, I handed my paper bag covered bottle of Chivas to the chilled parent beside me. He was at the game because his daughter was in the marching band. He expected some cheap swill, and thanking me then taking a sip, he folded down the bag a bit to see what was inside.

    His eyes lit up, he took a longer drink, and told me he was going to see to it that he sat next to me at every game.

    Every so often, we'd splurge on expensive cigarettes. I liked Dunhills, and we'd occasionally smoke those clove cigarettes, but i can't remember their name.

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    1. I always associate Harvey's Bristol Cream with Christmas. I'm afraid the awful stuff we drank at school bared no comparison.

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  18. For one terrible moment there when you said he was fidgeting with the corner of his gown I though he had a cane hidden in the folds of black and was going to give you a thrashing( sans pitie) Your story is reminiscent of those old black and white movies (circa Dirk Bogarde or St Trinian's period) when all the buildings in London were black and sooty and women wore beehives and flesh coloured stockings. Enjoyed this .

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