Letters from the dorm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 January, 2010, 12:00am

Cheltenham College anticipated Christmas this year no less than the rest of Britain, but the college has some traditions that are rather unique. About a week or so after shops on the High Street and Promenade rearranged their storefront displays in order to accommodate the first offerings of the coming holiday season, the college became festooned in eye-catching decorations - a welcome contrast to the wet, cold and drab weather that pervades Britain at this particular time of year. Red and gold tinsel was hung across the full length of the dining hall accompanied by blinking signs that spelled 'Merry Christmas'. Christmas trees bedecked with silver baubles and satin ribbons sprang up in many boarding house foyers. But the change was most noticeable in the people who populate the college: dinner ladies donned their Santa hats, girls began humming Christmas carol staples, and conversation became dominated by the topic of what everyone would be getting up to during the holiday.

In the last week of the autumn term, the Christmas spirit, combined with suspense immediately before the month-long Christmas holiday, reached fever pitch. These last few days of school were marked - as always - by the Upper College Christmas Dinner and the House dinners.

The first event was one of the few times in my life in which I got to wear a bow tie. It began with drinks with the tutor group, then progressed to the dining hall, where we were served a three-course meal of pat?, turkey and Yule log, washed down with generous helpings of wine. Everyone present - Form Six students and their tutors - were well-dressed. There was an elegance that would be hard to find in any Hong Kong school. To round off the evening, a disco was held, and the boys stripped off their bow ties. Alas, the holidays came all too soon - or not soon enough - and we were all whisked away to our holiday destinations.