Thursday, 8 June 2017

Demonstrations and the long wait for exam results, 30 June 1957

This month Alice spends a lot of time writing to her parents despite being very busy with taking exams and preparing for and performing in multiple demonstrations. Alice is in good spirits as she is excited for the annual College Camp in July and subsequently returning home. In this letter, Alice has written only to her mother who is camping in Wiltshire and was unable to come to her gymnastics demonstration.
Alice talks of the gymnastics demonstration attended by her father and aunt saying she has left instructions for her father to explain the programme to her mother once she returns home. During the demonstrations (she participated in two) the temperature is reportedly over 80°F; gymnastics at that temperature must have been unbearable for them!

Pictured below is the Gymnastics programme from the Archive. It shows that shape and pattern are the pre-eminent factors for this year as with the three thematic approaches of body shape, rope work, and pushing and pulling with asymmetry and symmetry.

The swimming demonstration took place on 29 June and Alice believes the performance was one of the most successful in recent years. However, she admits a slight faux par on her part - during a pairs diving sequence she misjudged her footing and went crashing into the water – “with a rather large splash”. Although accidental she was fearful of what the staff may think but looking up she was pleased to see they had found the funny side of the mishap.

Demonstrations aside, Alice must wait for her Biology and English exam results, commenting that the Biology exam was extremely hard and so believes she will not get a distinction.
Alice closes her letter wondering what she could do for work over the summer, hoping to attend a friend’s birthday party on the way to camp, and asks her mother to send on a few camp essentials.

BPEA OSA 5/6 Programmme for Demonstration Day 1957

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Specs, swimming and an eclipse, 19 May 1957

Alice writes to her parents a fair amount in May 1957. Alice thanks her parents for the gift of spikes and is brimming with anticipation to meet a mystery person referred to as ‘Mr. Baker - whole 7.’ We are unsure of who this Mr Baker may be but believe she is referencing a letter from her parents. She goes on to say that she regrets she will be unable to visit home for a special ‘do’ as her schedule is very demanding.
In previous letters this month Alice has had her eyes tested and now she addresses the fact that she has to wear glasses. She’s not particularly thrilled with her new specs as she refers to herself as an owl and comments on them being uncomfortable and sitting awkwardly on her nose.

Her week ahead is jam packed but she found the time on Monday evening to view an eclipse from a window sill. Alice has an extra gymnastics practice on Wednesday evening and a swimming ‘do’ where she participates in the floating formation section.

In the coming week she will be visiting schools as part of her teaching placement, and chairing her first meeting at one of the Hertfordshire colleges in her capacity as Midland T. C. C. U representative. The Teaching Colleges’ Christian Union is an inter-varsity group where Alice was a regional representative. Pictured is an image of the termly supplement circulated to members, where it discusses prayers for the summer term, Christian teachers, the classroom and behaving in a Christian manner. Alice states that she is hosting tea that afternoon with two people she met at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick.

BPEA PP 1/4/1

Friday, 21 April 2017

April 1957

April 1957

Alice seems to be busy during April 1957 as there is only one letter to her parents lodged in the Bedford Physical Education Archive for that month.  The letter is sent from The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick where she is at a Christian Conference and appears to be part of the Executive Committee as she is attending a meeting which is going to last all day.

She is very taken with the Anglican Evangelist Rev. Dick Rees who is one of the speakers and also a Mr Aldis and Major Batt whom she says are ‘both very helpful, inspiring Christian men’

On a lighter note there seems to be evening entertainment where some of the groups have put on skits, Bedford College of Physical Education have dressed in shorts and gone barefoot  ‘and took the mickey out of various people who had tried to do the same to us’  

April 1957 seems to have been a very cold month and Alice is pleased she had taken her winter clothes with her but has still managed to get a cold.  Although she has obviously enjoyed her stay she is tired and is suffering from ‘spiritual indigestion’ but feels it has been a lovely preparation for Easter.

Programme from 1957 Rally

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Spring is in the air, 1957

It is March in Bedford and amidst dashing out to pick some primroses Alice seems busier than ever.

The students have a series of exams at the end of the Spring Term and Alice has a heavy timetable as lessons continue with revision built-in. She still has to travel to Cambridge for the 'dissection' classes (Anatomy and Physiology was a key part of the curriculum) despite an impending English exam the following day, but she doesn't seem bothered by that at all. She talks about her hopes for subject choices in her final year and is enthusiastic to take a variety of options...except for Ballroom dance.
The games fixtures also continue and this week has proved very successful with wins in hockey and lacrosse and a draw in netball; Alice thought the Anstey students were really 'nice people' and enjoyed playing to win in glorious sunshine!

 Alice also had fun attending the Dramatic Society's production of 'Jonah and the Whale', although her asides (scribbled on the programme), suggest she and her friends were not a little distracted by the thespian students and that the humour in their observations clearly helped them to let off a little tension and steam.

Wry comments noted while watching the play

Second year timetable: Spring 1957

Thursday, 9 February 2017

February 1957: busy in college and beyond

It is near the end of February and Alice seems busier than ever with a healthy mix of work and play. Her first mention is of an entertainment which appears to have had a sea theme involving a heavily decorated gymnasium and even incorporating a pirate cavern. In a previous letter she had asked for a green dress to be sent and it appears that this had been a successful choice - adapting is the order of the day as she makes reference to the addition of net to make it fit to the theme.

Her thoughts are also tending towards a visit home and she is quite excited by the appointment there of a new curate. She encloses a songbook from the Bible rally she has attended and hopes that her Dad will contact the pastor  using details on the back cover.

Despite enjoying her extracurricular activities and looking forward to visiting home, Alice is also trying to make a decision regarding her academic subject choices in her 3rd (and final) year. She is disappointed with Miss Middleton apparently talking about her to other students, but feels vindicated and happier when she later receives an apology and is able to discuss her wish to continue; she recognises that life in an all female college can sometimes be fraught with 'the tension of relationships'. 

She closes with happy thoughts of the impending visit home and is already formalising day and time to meet up with Mum: roll on Half Term!


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Start of Spring Term 1957

It’s January 1957 and Alice is back at Bedford College of Physical Education following the Christmas holidays – minus her trunk - thus forcing her to borrow bits and pieces of clothing for Modern Dance and Games for a few days.  As usual she and her fellow students have the usual start-of-term inspection to check that they have all the required books on their reading list.

A new dining hall is under construction but in the meantime meals are taken in one of several houses which form part of the Lansdowne Road campus.  As with many other aspects of College life, the regime surrounding meals is strict and non-attendance is frowned upon by staff.  Hence Alice and her friends conceal the absence of a fellow student from a Sunday breakfast even though the student would appear to have a reasonable excuse – arriving at College at 11.45pm the previous evening following a lacrosse match in Exeter.
Alice is also shocked at the price of a cloth badge for her blazer – 8s/6d (8 shillings and 6 pence) – equivalent to £9.24 today which does seem very expensive.

Dining Room at 37 Lansdowne Road (c.1919-1920)