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Christina de Jong Cleydert, Chetham's 1969-1971

Teaching, some performing, singing and horn

Your life in brief since you left school…

Royal College of Music, married with three daughters and seven grandchildren. Took up glass engraving when I took a break from performing to bring up my girls and worked in a studio glass shop in Cambridge. I went back to playing the horn for another 22 years and doing the odd singing performances before retiring to become a hands on Granny six years ago. I still teach and engrave.

What was the best thing about Chetham’s?

All the pranks we played in those early years.

What’s your favourite memory of Chetham’s?

Caroline Crawshaw was my singing professor and a wonderful influence. I had horn lessons with Ralph Hall from the Hallé. Mr Littlewood kindly allowed me to give up the fiddle in favour of the horn. After telling me that there wasn’t a spare horn in the school (which I knew) he told me to go along to Boosey and Hawkes in Dean Street where I collected a brand new compensator. Happy days!

My two best friends at school were Judith Christian and Iona Sherwood-Jones. Iona and I once made all the VIth form boys and all the girls including Pegleg( the house mistress’ assistant) and ourselves Apple pie beds. When eventually the boys found out, we were treated to the curry remains from supper plus crushed Ryvita in our beds! The curry wouldn’t come out of our sheets… The food was simply awful in those days and without a tuck box and parents sending supplies from home we might’ve starved! We got up to so many pranks; some possibly too dreadful to write down. My favourite master was Penry Williams who taught us history and was a very dear man. Arthur George taught us maths and was a housemaster along with Brian Raby. They both lived in the gatehouse. Arthur George always had gravy and ash on his tie. In those days he smoked during lessons.

Gillian Green who was head girl and a harpist and I went to Ilkley for the festival and won all our classes including overall winners. We had to stay the night with the organisers who rang the school to let them know. We couldn’t have got back to Chets on the train at that time of night. The next morning Gillian and I ate a whole loaf of bread, toasted, with an entire jar of ginger marmalade. When we arrived back at school the next day we got into terrific trouble from ‘Boss’ for staying away overnight despite my protestations that we had won all the cups and in those early days it could only have been good press for the school! The boys were real gentlemen and I can’t remember ever clearing a table or moving a chair so when I went on to another school I was quite shocked to be asked to move a few chairs. Chets had quite a few teething problems then. For instance, the boarders including the girls were stopped from swimming after supper after the first half term!! There were no sports facilities for the girls so to begin with we used to play ping pong in the boys’ common room. Later we went skating and went on the bus to play tennis. The girls HAD to attend the rugger matches and dish out oranges at half time whilst supporting the boys. There was only one television and that was in the boys’ common room. On Sunday nights two Vth formers would manhandle the bulky set over to our common room in Palatine House so that we could all watch The Forsyth Saga. We’d eat huge quantities of buttered toast made in the Baby Belling we had in our little kitchen to accompany our Sunday evening treat.

We did have enormous fun in those days.

What impact did Chetham’s have on your life?

It made me realise I had to work jolly hard!

Instruments: Brass, Keyboard, Vocal

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