I think it was on the school birthday when hapless members of staff had to wear creative headgear as they ate lunch. The Staff Hats were made by Lower Fifth pupils. It may perhaps have been Christmas.
Miss Lickes, a keen cricketer, was given a cricket pitch to wear on her head in the mid 1960s. Somehow she did this with no loss of dignity - no mean feat. Other staff were similarly adorned, wearing assorted bizarre hats themed to match their skills and interests in some way.
Meals were generally rather formal affairs; staff sat at the end of long oak tables. Pupils would move one place along each week. We all ended up next to staff at some point. I used to scribble notes for possible topics for conversation for the day I was due to sit next to Miss Lickes. "And what's next on your list, Jennifer?” DBL asked me one day. I wished the floor would swallow me up.
Assigned partners we probably didn't know or like very much ,except at supper when we sat by our friends, we would troop together into the dining room clutching our increasingly food stained napkins. We would then await the arrival of the senior mistress and the ritual associated with all our meals which involved a very small and very shiny brass gong.
No teachers sat with us at supper. At the end of the meal, a prefect would ping the gong (such an honour). We all stood up in silence and waited for the click, click , click of heels down the corridor as the same prefect escorted the Head to the dining room, opening the door for her of course. Miss Lickes, or sometimes Miss Lee, would stand surveying us, with what always seemed like faint displeasure.
On a wooden serving trolley in front of the mistress on duty was placed ... the gong. It was as much a part of our day-to-day lives as the school bell. It was maybe 8" high and 6" wide. This same small and shiny gong was struck by a small and shiny mallet PING! Silence reigned. Heads were bowed, no one said anything, no prayer was uttered PING!
I think the gong concluded the evening meal formalities. At other meals it signalled both the start and the end .... Ping!.... Ping! At breakfast and lunch it was placed at the end of the table where the head sat. For such a small gong it made a surprisingly loud noise, especially if you were seated right next to it.
There were a whole host of other customs and traditions, that no doubt others will write about, associated with food. But for now you will have formed a rather curious mental picture of formality and funny hats worn once a year by staff on the school birthday, or was it Christmas? ....Ping!