School Life

Ronald Leedham: No talking

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ron talks about bedtime at 7 pm for teenagers.


Bedtime, I think we had a glass of milk, all sat round the room with a glass of milk, cup of milk which sometimes had sugar in it, very, very rarely. And then it was the general thing, everybody to bed. Now bed was at seven o’clock, summer and winter. In the wartime we had double British summer time which meant it didn’t get dark till half past eleven so you had 14 or 15 year olds going to bed at seven o’clock and you were expected, once it was so called lights out at I think it was half last seven, you were expected to lie there like a log. Not move, not talk, not sigh, not a sound. And there’d be a master creeping round the dormitories with his slipper. If he heard anybody talking, he’d charge into the room, bang would go the bedclothes, over you’d go and wallop, you’d get a good leathering with a slipper on your bare backside. I never got caught talking, I never got the slipper. But some kids got it every night, I don’t know how they had the nerve to do it, they just did, they refused to co-operate and they’d sooner take the slipper. Unbelievable, unbelievable.

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