Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09-09-09 reminds me of 7-7-77

And what, you may ask (you may not be asking... I don't know), was so important about 7-7-77? Aside from being the date with all the sevens in it?

Well, in the UK we break for summer vacation (or should I say 'summer holiday' or 'hols') later than here in the States. We return to school later too, in about the 2nd week of September. All my UK friends who have kids are going through this right now. My kids have been back in school for an entire month.

So on 7-7-77 I was sitting in Mrs. Boyland's classroom as usual. It was the last week of school, my 4th year in Junior School, and we were never coming back to this school again. We were all moving on to Secondary School. So it was not business as usual in class. We were doing fun stuff.

On this particular day Mrs. Boyland, a rather pretty olive-skinned woman who had a 'cosmic hippy star child' flag and liked to fly it, and who was fiercely interested in getting us kids to appreciate things from all cultures, decided that today would be a good day for us to get some genuine Chinese food from the Chinky up the road, the 'Loong Sing Chinese Restaurant'. It's not there anymore and that to me is rather sad. It changed hands a few years back but during my teens and early 20's it was a great place to go post-pub and grab a little takeout for the walk home. Spare ribs, fried rice, and chips were awesome as were the prawn crackers. But I digress. I like digressing. I do it all the time, so please try to follow the plot.

So we were sitting in class, all having chipped in a couple of quid the day before for this Chinese food fest. Mrs. Boyland (or Sandi as she was known) had requisitioned from the school lunchroom some plates and Siu Hang (for it was he) had gone to his family's restaurant with the order. We were happy when this boatload of food arrived, and we all eagerly sampled the stuff. The prawn crackers, the spring rolls, the egg foo yung, the fried rice. Mmmm. Of course, this was not my first taste of Chinese food, as my parents liked it and we'd been to that restaurant a few times. My mother can probably tell you some stories of times she and Dad went there without us kids, like the time Mick Sims set a tablecloth on fire... but there I go digressing again.
Some kids, however, had never tried Chinese food, and when they did, they liked it. This was what Sandi Boyland had been aiming for.

After we ate we sat and wrote a little essay titled Our Chinese Nosh, with the list of items included. If it hadn't been for the fact that this took place on 7-7-77, I probably wouldn't have remembered it as well as I do.
I wish more teachers were like Sandi. Willing to go above and beyond to expand the pupils' horizons, and especially to provide excellent food, and provide me with a story I can tell my Grandkids one day when I take them out for their first Chinese meal. I'll just be sorry that it won't be at the Loong Sing.


  1. The restaurant is still there Jeff, and it's still a Chinese, but it's called the Honeymoon now... a bit more upper class!

    I had completely forgotten that lesson until I read your blog.... and it all came flooding back. Mrs Boyland was the best teacher I ever had, and I was over the moon when we got her for the last 2 years of primary school. I firmly believe that it was her coaching that set us up for life - there was something about her teaching methods that really captured your imagination and spurred you on to better things. Do you remember how we would have a term 'theme' - I remember the Time Machine - the classroom was decorated to incorporate a real Time Machine .... with time pills (hundreds and thousands). If you'd done particularly well during a lesson you were allowed to sit in the Time Machine for your next lesson. The chair was covered in red sparkly material.

    Or the Haunted House (think that must have been autumn term), with cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. We made stained glass windows from tissue paper and black card.... or we walked hand in hand crocodile fashion to the church to do some brass rubbing.

    She encouraged us to read and study - we'd have a project to do each term. I spent many a happy hour after school in the town library researching Edith Cavel.

    Oh, such happy days, eh Jeff? Such wonderful memories. Thanks for awakening mine.

  2. Awesome. I was fortunate to have elementary teachers who were young and full of life. They wanted us to experience cool things

  3. i am surprised you remember the tablecloth incident

  4. I'm not surprised you remember the tablecloth story,do you remember the 'cat in the chinese in Hastings' story?

  5. And yes, Sarah, I remember the time Machine, but do you remember the spaceship? And I seem to remember a pirate theme at one point. The Haunted House... now THAT I remember. Particularly the 'eye box', remember that? A box lined with black construction paper, and hundreds of eyes cut out of magazines glued on the inside! Ah me! Those indeed were the days.


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