Nutrition In Schools : A View From The 1950s

We hear a lot of talk these days – from Jamie Oliver and others – about declining standards of nutrition in schools (children unable to think straight because of the products of Mr. Matthews and so on).  So, I was interested to read the following anecdote in the Old Boys’ magazine that my school has recently started to send me.  I think it sheds an interesting light on the quality of the grub at a Northern public school in the 1950s.

To translate, Fleur de Lys, Pelican and Maltese Cross were the names of some of the Houses.  The “monies’ lawn” was a lawn that only School Monitors were allowed to walk on.  The “brew room” was a small kitchen where the boys were allowed to make pitiful attempts to cook for themselves.

I have redacted some of the names, to protect the identities of those involved.    

“The event occurred one evening in the summer of 1959, as we poured out after Sunday Evensong in our beloved chapel, eyes blinding in the strong sunlight after a particularly long sermon from Harry McNair.  It had all been too much for Frank Muncaster (MC 55-60) who fell asleep in his pew under the organ and caused 93 hymnals to cascade to the floor – Harry McNair continued undaunted.  As we emerged we were all assailed by the most appalling stench known to man.  As we neared the school monies’ lawn we believed it must be coming from Fleur de Lys, but no it continued to assail our quivering nostrils.  Ah, we thought it must be coming from Pelican; but no as we strode on it clearly was coming from our own house – MC.  It was worse than ever.  Two brave souls entered.  The source was located in the lower brew room.  “Conjuror” Cunliffe (MC55-59), a great character in MC, had found a decomposing seal on the shore and to assuage the pangs of hunger he had striven to poach it and had left it in that state during chapel!”

But, of course, if you gave today’s pampered, namby-pamby”kiddiz” a decomposing seal and told them to poach it for their tea, they’d probably turn their noses up at it!

Somewheres East Of Suez Where The Best™ Is Like The Worst

Having been offline all week with a nasty bug (the computer, not me), I’ve  been following England’s performance East of Suez via TMS and the newspapers.  (Consequently, it wasn’t until I got back online that I realised that there were any doubts about the legality of Ajmal’s action).

I see that the Independent has signed up Ian Bell as a columnist (he previously graced the pages of the Evening Standard).  Belly appears with the tagline View From The Middle (the middle of the dressing room, mostly, in this match).

I don’t know whether Bell writes his own stuff  but, if not, his ghost has captured perfectly the tone of his interviews – resembling an American airman captured during the Korean War and subjected to fiendish Chinese brainwashing techniques.

Bell’s column only appears on the first day of the Test.  So what was on his mind?

“I was fortunate that wrist X-rays showed no fracture after I was hit right at the end of my final practice session before the first Test.

While at the hospital, I read an article about Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan off-spinner, and his new delivery, which they’re calling the ‘teesra’.  We’d seen some footage of it in a recent one-day match against Sri Lanka.

If he has developed another delivery, though, brilliant.  Let’s take it on.  If he’s got three different deliveries and you still score runs against him, what a plus that is for the team.  He was the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2011 and I know how good it feels to score runs against that class of bowler, so that’s our challenge in these three Tests.

Now that we are top of the ICC Test ranking, we still need to be there in  a year’s time.  If we could win this series and follow it by winning in Sri Lanka and India later in the year, it would be one of our biggest achievements.”  

Wouldn’t it just?

We shall have to wait until next week to see how Belly has reacted to this week’s events – (Bell c. A. Akmal b. Ajmal 0 & lbw Ajmal 4 –  Ajmal 10-97 in the match – Pakistan win by 10 wickets.)

Perhaps, under the heading “Why Ajmal Makes Me Want To Chuck!”, he will launch an amazing attack on the spinner and reveal how the stress led to him embarking on a drink-fuelled spree ending in a three-in-a-bed love romp involving the wife of the Emir of Abu Dhabi?  

Or perhaps they will have looked in the mirror, asked themselves some hard questions, decided to draw a line under it and found some positives to take out going forward? 

We shall have to see.

And what of the England Lions, who, a little further East, are touring Bangladesh (or, as they seem to refer to it, Bangladonkey?) Is Captain James Taylor managing to stamp his personality on the team?  Coverage is sparse in the English newspapers, so we shall have to look to Twitter for the answer, which I think is Yes.

Before leaving Taylor tweeted –

That day has come round again! Last few hours in england before we fly to bangladesh! Last bit of english food for a while.
But not to worry, once out there …
@alexhales count me in! I’ll be up in a bit bud after pizza!
And Alex Hales does seem to have bought into the Captain’s agenda, as a selection of his tweets demonstrates –
Steak and ale pie for the last meal before Bangladesh!! 
Cheers for the birthday messages people! Feel old at 23 so I had my party at pizza hut in Chittagong to rewind the years!
 6 quid a corona at the bar in Bangladesh?!!! #offensive #cheaperinthewestend
 I’ve seen some weird things before.. But @SMeaker18 breakfast is comfortably leading the way..
 nah banana and jelly on toast!! I could understand jam…
Think I might stick to the hotel grub if I’m honest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everyone off to the Aussie high commission in Dhaka for a feed and some brews.. 
 This is all very well, but what about the curries?  What about the cricket, indeed?
(n.b. The Number One Side in the World™ and The Best Team in the World™ are registered trademarks of the England Cricket Team.  Rankings can go down as well as up.)

A Good Feed

I wonder how James Taylor’s getting on in India.  Let’s have a look at his Twitter feed-

Good to be back playing again! However 50 overs in the dirt felt a very long time! #heavylegs!Now off to the hard rock cafe for a good feed!
Hmm.  I do wonder when these Bunter-ish tendencies began to set in, and I think – by studying the self-same Twitter, that we can begin to get to the root of the problem.
I believe we can trace it to the time that JT and his M8s recently spent occluded in the England Performance Centre in Loughborough (a place that we locals only speak of in hushed tones, in case we scare the children).  Precisely what goes on there cannot be spoken of openly, but rumour has it that – amongst other horrors – the aspiring England players are buried up to their necks in ice (rather like the treacherous in the ninth circle of Dante’s Inferno) –
No I can’t send out for a curry


 and force-fed MaxiMuscle by Andy Flower and his Grim Crew.
It’s only natural that – when they’ve made their escape – these young players should emerge craving  sustenance.  Twitter corroborates this.  What is Taylor’s first thought before setting out for a night rescuing cats from trees with the Manchester Fire Brigade (just the thing, I’d say, to eliminate his vulnerability against late movement in the early overs of his innings) –
Out for a quick curry!! Then on call all night with manchester fire service! Wish us luck!
I also note that he has re-Tweeted a photograph taken by fellow inmate Jason Roy of the pair of them getting stuck into the Pic’n’Mix, under the rubric
@JasonRoy20: Be rude not too wouldn’t it. @jamestaylor20 and I taking pic’n’mix DOWN. #neededforlongjourneys
But perhaps there is an alternative explanation – that this is an example of a player misunderstanding his own publicity.  Yes, one feels like saying, you were described as “Lilliputian in stature but gargantuan in his appetite for runs” and  as “A tiny man with an appetite for big hundreds”, but that was a metaphorical appetite, not a literal one.
Another tip to avoid this tour ending in tears – bearing in mind what transpired during the Rugby World Cup – would be to avoid any bar advertising a dwarf throwing contest.
You never know what might happen.

Fungi for all the Family

One thing the wet weather we’ve been having  is good for, I suppose – and it’s not good for much else in my view – is fungi. They’re springing up like mushrooms. I do remember, as a child, my sisters (I’m afraid I was never up that early) getting up around dawn and returning with baskets full of the things which my mother would then fry up for breakfast.  Nothing more delicious.  

I suppose, looking back, that sending two children in single figures out to gather growths that might have been tasty, fatal or simply hallucinogenic was a slightly risky enterprise.  Presumably my mother must have known that the ones growing in that particular field were generally edible and would have removed any that looked suspicious.  On the other hand perhaps we’ve all been hallucinating for the last forty years.  Perfectly possible.  

These, for instance, I snapped by the roadside while on my way to Lubenham on Sunday –


My guess would be that the first pair are edible, the second trio not, but this clearly isn’t a case where instinct is a suitable guide (and, unfortunately, they don’t have any labelling from the FSA).  I also suspect that looking it upon the internet isn’t a very good idea either.

An interesting article on this same subject by Phil Daoust in Thursday’s Guardian (Only a few of them will actually kill you), containing what sounds to me like good advice – e.g. “You need to ignore every single rule of thumb that you will ever hear about how to tell a good mushroom from a bad.  Whatever the rule, it will be rubbish.”  but also “it would be a crying shame if we stopped eating them”.

Proceed with caution seems to be the message.

To the Vicar, the spoils

(Not a very apt title, I’m afraid – I am not, unfortunately, a clergyman, and I’m reasonably confident that our Vicar isn’t planning to trouser the proceeds.  To the Parish the spoils, possibly).

While we’re on the subject of fetes, I yesterday attended our local Church fete and came away with the following –


1 tin wild pink salmon

1 can Boddington’s draught bitter (won in tombola)

1 packet Carr’s water biscuits

1 jar Nescafe Brazilia

1 tin cannellini beans

1 copy Mnemosyne by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble

1 copy Delius’s Violin Concerto and other pieces, featuring Tasmin Little  

(many hundreds of losing raffle and tombola tickets not pictured)

The Boddington’s has – predictably – already gone (drinkable but a bit soapy).  The cannelli beans will soon be making an appearance in a risotto.  The salmon will, on past form, lurk in the cupboard until I realise that I’ve run out of any other type of tinned fish, when it will feature in some dish that really calls for mackerel or sardines. 

In Greek mythology Mnemosyne was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, the mother of the nine muses and the personification of memory.  The disc is in the same vein as the same artistes’ earlier Officium.  I think I shall save it for when I AM ON THE TRAIN – but, as a taster, here is Remember Me My Dear (16th century Scottish, apparently).  The saxophone, I must say, divides opinion, but I like it.

Leicestershire v Worcestershire, Grace Road, 16 May 2009

Not a great deal to say about this one (an enticing introduction, I know) .  Another day of sunshine and heavy showers, early lunches and pitch inspections.  In the end only 8 overs of play:  Solanki swats the spearhead of our attack all over the shop for a bit then off again for rain and eventually we all go home.

Meanwhile the test rumbles on – England don’t want to lose and the Windies apparently aren’t bothered about winning, so the makings of a classic are hard to discern.  Actually watch some test cricket for the first time in ages, courtesy of Sky in the Fox Bar: though I’m happy to pontificate about the performance of the England players, all (since 2005)based on hearsay – from TMS or the newpapers, or what I’ve seen of them in country cricket.  Reliable sources, obviously, but … And why are they using Vladimir Putin as part of the commentary team?

Still, a good time had by all – even the substantial contingent from Worcestershire.  Grace Road as much of a social club as a sporting venue for many.

Food consumed at ground today :

1 Australian pie and chips

1 Snickers bar

1 lemon curd tart