Back in 1978 at Helderberg College

Saturday mornings we were allowed to “sleep late”. This merely meant nobody checked up whether you were at breakfast or not and there was no roll call during morning worship because… there was no morning worship. This was all well and good – but shite – it was a long time to lunch if you missed breakfast.

Know this would sound really odd to my kids now – knowing that their mother quite frequently goes from supper to supper without eating – but back then – missing a meal was a major deal.

So… what we used to do was appropriate a few slices of brown bread and some cheese on the Friday after supper.

Maybe I should go back to the beginning for those who were not there… at Helderberg College – the kids in the dorms did the work. You had to do x amount hours of work per week. Now, upon reflection, it was slave labour – but after a year at Worcester in the Ladies Seminary – it was heaven.

The girls at Helderberg College did kitchen and laundry duty. To begin with I complained like a stuck pig. Not fair that the boys had the cool jobs – like herding cows and riding around on the truck around campus. I mean who wanted to wash up a gajillion dishes and iron crappy clothes for all the kids in the hostels. Talk about stereotyping.

 Obviously I made enough noise because I was invited into the hallowed male world of truck riding… eeeergh… and they made me do garbage duty. Seriously gross – to this day – I hooch, heave and hold my nose when I have to swop black bags.

So we worked in the kitchen.

They had this cool dishwasher type thing – you stacked dirty plates on a rack and then hosed the hell out of them with a gun that shot serious bursts of water. Then they got shoved through a little house of piping hot water. Bit like a car wash really. Usually only matrics got that cool hosing-off job.

Racks of glasses, warm and steaming, had to be dried. I quite liked that – at least there was no grungy stuff involved. A select few were allowed into the cooler room – this was where the good stuff – like cheese – lurked.

 Really can’t remember the specifics – but suffice to say – we had cheese and brown bread.

On a Saturday morning we’d make toasted cheese. Marlene had an iron, I had an iron. We’d heat them both up. Make a cheese sarmie and clamp it between the two hot irons. Truly, don’t think I have ever tasted anything quite so delicious since then.

Kettles were also the privilege of Matrics – we were in Standard 8 or 9 at that stage. So we’d heat up water in our steam irons – and make lukewarm coffee to swill our sarnies down with. Bliss.

Heaven help us if we’d forgotten to iron our clothes first.