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1939-1945 second world war page 3

With her student assistant Lorna Nield, Noreen taught ballet. Lorna also taught National and Stage Branch and was to stay with Bush Davies for about thirty years. Her sister, Mary, joined the staff at Charters as day nurse until a resident Sister was employed. Victor gave tap classes and Marjorie visited each week to give modern dance classes. Ballroom was provided once a week by a teacher from the Eve Tyngate Smith School. Academic classes were given by Miss Turnbull for the youngest pupils 'in a converted chicken shed'. There were several dormitories including the 'Plum' and 'Blue' rooms and the least favourite, but always fully occupied, was 'Siberia' on the top floor - named for obvious reasons.

Mary Pike joined the school in 1942 aged sixteen: she stayed for three years in order to gain her Advanced Ballet (RAD). Towards the end, "Mr Leopold found me a job teaching for three days a week at The Kathleen Danetree School in Birmingham (an old student of Noreen from 'Fishponds') and I also travelled to teach at Romford where Stanley Holden was a student - a great song and dance man but he, of course, joined the Royal Ballet." She also remembers, "Miss Bush Victor on 'Home Guard'sitting in bed with a blackboard writing the timetable for the day. We dreaded the two hour ballet classes unless they went really well!" Mary further recounts: "I was preparing a jelly with Joyce Percy for that evening's 'midnight feast', when the bell suddenly rang for class and we had to put the mixture into a commode - needless to say we didn't eat it!" And Judith Jenkins recalls, "I was sent to Felden at the age of fourteen after my parents saw the school advertised in The Dancing Times. Cone-Ripman and Phyllis Bedells were also considered but BD had a really good reputation." She continues, "Pauline Innes' mother did the cooking which we all thought was great, and she lived in the far end of the house which we called Siberia. Her husband joined her at weekends. Can't recall her having any time off! We all had our own butter ration in a little packet."

Food 'was plentiful' in spite of war rationing due largely to the resourcefulness of Victor and Mrs Innes; "Don't ever mention Goulash or pilchards to me!" Daphne recalls. A special Saturday treat was watching, "For Mr Leopold to arrive on his motor-cycle with a container attached full of fish and chips!" He also kept aVictor and Noreen in the garden brood of ubiquitous chickens. Mary also recalls, "If Miss Bush needed cheering up we would often prepare mime shows: she would provide the theme. In one, entitled '1066 and All That', I played Ethelred the Unready to make her laugh." (Sixty-five years on, amazingly Paul remembers: "Mary Pike ripped a garter off her leg, jumped off the bed and kicked a potty, to howls of laughter!").


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