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Quantock School Cuisine

Mealtime Protocol

Perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of mealtimes at Quantock was not the food, but the wonderful queueing system that was employed. While fifth years would be allowed to queue up at the door, everybody else was expected to line up in an orderly fashion on the wooden benches (which looked like church pews) outside the dining hall. Pupils would enter the dining room in threes, answering a shout of "three!" from the bouncer-cum-prefect at the door. Of course, there were other ways of jumping the queue - for example, one could be asked to go to the kitchen for more food or a bucket of orange juice or milk, an assignment which at times proved to be a precarious task for some of the more butterfingered among us.

The entire mealtime procedure was a well-oiled machine, and was kept going by those on table, trolley and serving duty - as well as the punishment brigade on the washing up detail - about more of which can be found in the section on Punishments & Duties.

Duty prefects regularly patrolled the noisy meal queue, their primary duty being to make sure people were properly dressed and that (at Breakfast time) their shoes were gleaming - a policy that was rigidly enforced by Mr Phil - with any slackers being immediately sent out of the queue and back to their dorms to apply more Kiwi to their leather uppers. Any people "dossing about" in the queue would immediately be sent to the back (what this actually constituted was - and among Quantock veterans probably still is - a matter of debate, and I am sure everyone can remember at least one occasion on which they were sent to the back of the queue for no apparent reason).

Of course, one could always avoid the queueing debacle altogether (and get in a couple of games of pool in the process) by going to the dining hall during the last quarter hour of the mealtime - although the only problem with this was that the likelihood of ending up with the greasy scraps was a very real possibility. However even then there was scope for improvisation - the squashed, shapeless and soggy end-of-tea fish fingers, for example, could quite easily be drained of the excess oil (and, if necessary, the sticky mess that was the breadcrumbs) and spread thickly on top of a slice of hot toast. This Quantockian nod to the fast food industry was quite often topped with a dollop of tomato ketchup - or, in some cases, Marmite or salad cream. Such self-sufficient ingenuity was the unique hallmark of the Quantockian.

Nothing was ever wasted at Quantock - all unwanted food, rather than just being thrown away, ended up in a plastic basin which sat on the trolley on which one put their dirty crokery and cutlery, known as the pig bin (on account of the fact that the contents were ostensibly passed on to the local farm for the pigs). On occasion, the Head was known to dip his hand into the pig bin to extricate a half-eaten burger for the dog which always accompanied him.

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