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The dining room was hung with allied flags and the Union Jack and the Christmas tree was adorned, to the astonishment of the pupils, with electric lights instead of candles. After tea and cakes, there was Sally go round the Moon (which the players switched direction when the music changed) – ‘most exhausting!’ we are told, dancing to the hornpipe and singing. Once the Branbançonne and God Save the King had been sung, Paulinas gave three cheers for the Belgians and their guests three cheers ‘for the English’ (what happened, one wonders, to the Irish, Scots and Welsh?). Still in the Christmas spirit, the Seventh and Eighth offered their own entertainment to the domestic staff: a knock-about comedy, enlivened by the ‘dancing belles of Cairo’.
As the issue of Paulina, which described these events appeared only four months after the Armistice, the war still dominated the contents. There was a letter from Mr Holst, who had departed to serve with British Expeditionary Force in Salonica (Thessaloniki) armed, as he wrote, with fifty pounds weight of musical scores and a box of tools to repair pianos. And Theodora Cole (SPGS 1904-11) told the Paulinas about her work in the Motor Transport section of the Royal Army Service Corps: ‘The life of a Transport driver is thrilling and very healthy. Out in all weathers, from 8am to 8 or 9 at night … we have no leisure to think of [Spanish] influenze or such-like ills…’.
Dr Howard Bailes