Escape to the Polish Corridor

The Polish Corridor was built around 1939/40 at a time when the Nazis were intent on occupying Poland. It was named in sympathy with the Poles and possibly because it was built by Polish refugees. (None of which we pupils were aware of in the 1960s.) It was a long dark corridor with red shiny tiles with dustbins at the end, and it was there you could find the Ink Room, Drying room and toilets and cloakrooms.

One of the drawbacks of being at boarding school was the inability to get away from others and the relentless timetable of bells, duties and rules. I think one of the appeals of the corridor was that it was a place you could slope off to just to be on your own or hide to avoid something you didn’t want to do.

It was at a time when team games were regarded as being good for you and ‘character-building’. I was hopeless at games and often wanted to be on my own with a good book, so the drying room and ink rooms were a good place to hide.

The winter of 1962/3 was particularly harsh, the freeze started in December and went on for months, with walls of snow everywhere. However, that didn’t deter Miss Thompson, the Games Mistress, from scheduling a rota of walks and other activities which were not to my liking at all.

The best place to go in the midst of a blizzard was the drying room, as at least it was warm, even if it did smell of damp clothes and smelly shoes. There were a few of us hiding there and we obviously thought we were safe enough to laugh and joke. Imagine our horror as Miss Thompson’s head appeared round the door, looking delighted that she’d caught us red-handed.

Our punishment was the Sisyphean task of shovelling snow from the path round the hockey pitch in the middle of a raging blizzard, with Miss Thompson gloating at us through the Hall window.

I wonder why I’ve hated games ever since!?

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