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An Eton education


Eton's early mornings and ugly maids
John Julius Norwich Writer
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School started at 07:30 in the morning. We had a 50-minute period before breakfast and your schoolroom might be anywhere from five or six minutes away, so you were called at 07:00 by the... each house had about three maids chosen for their appalling hideousness in order to constitute no conceivable temptation to any of the boys. Any of the three of them would have put you off sex for life. And they went to call you at 07:00, then one usually stayed in bed until 25 minutes past and then somehow managed to get dressed and run to one’s classroom by about 07:30. And there were coffee and buns laid out downstairs, but nobody ever had time to have one. And then we came back for breakfast and then we had a short period before morning chapel, which Winston Churchill was so worried at the cancellation of, and then we went into our 50-minute lessons which succeeded each other.

Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays were half-holidays, we didn’t have work in the afternoons then, but we had games which I... which I dreaded, I absolutely hated. Eton had its own special sort of football called the field game which I was absolutely hopeless at and the only goals I ever scored were those against my own side. And I used to dread that. And the cold, of course! Going for... walking for 10 minutes to the playing field and then taking off everything but your shirt... oh dear, I hated it so.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Eton

Duration: 2 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018