Christopher Bentall’s story

In early March this year I watched a recording of a new BBC television documentary about the Vietnamese so called ‘Boat People’, who were headline news around the world at the end of the 1970s. The programme packed in a lot of information, too much I think for a single programme, and there were only a few brief glimpses of the Sopley Reception Centre. Filmed forty one years ago, the scenes looked old and the images had a grainy quality, whereas my memories remain vivid and fresh, although in the last few years on thinking back to those days at Sopley my feelings are tainted by grief and a sense of loss.

In mid-July 1979 I turned 26.  My mental, spiritual and emotional health was not good and I had no idea about the future. I was in a Bournemouth bed-sit and just surviving day to day, teaching temporarily at an EFL school in central Bournemouth. My classes included holidaying Germans and Libyan children following in the footsteps of a former student, Colonel Gadaffi. On 7th January 1979, during the so called ‘winter of discontent’, I made a deadly serious suicide attempt, following a decade of chronic mental health problems. Strictly speaking I should have died but divine providence saved my life.

Philip Baker, a friend from teacher training college, was teaching in the Upper School at Sopley and when a fieldworker vacancy came up in early October, he told me and I was accepted (I remember phoning up from the EFL school premises where I was working, to find out). In an extraordinary turnaround my life was about to change, and I would be free of mental and emotional pain. However for the first two weeks at Sopley I probably looked like and I felt like a refugee; I remember not washing my hair for that period and I wore a grubby green army style padded jacket. Half-term approached and David Hardisty, the Activities Coordinator, was struggling for ideas to occupy the time usually taken up by school and adult education classes. I suggested a treasure hunt. Clues were dotted about the camp (e.g. in fieldworker Helen Clifford’s car, the Medical Centre) and a shop in Bransgore. The event was a great success, won by a man with polio (from Hut 24 I think) who fieldworker Eamonn Doherty had wanted to win and a crowd gathered in front of the admin building to see the winner receive his prize. That treasure hunt really kick-started my new life at Sopley; I washed my hair, smartened myself up and embarked on what still is the best period of my life. I never thought about the reception centre closing, that it was a temporary situation etc. Instead, and really for the first time, I lived, as the saying goes, ‘for the day’.

I and my fellow workers from that time have many good memories (not forgetting at least two tragedies). It was an unforgettable life-enhancing experience, ‘magical’ according to Eamonn but as he also says ‘You had to be there’. But for me the contrast of what I had endured previously and what I experienced at Sopley was so remarkable – put simply, at long last I was free to be myself. It was like an oasis to someone lost in a desert. I found a level of stability and well-being that was entirely foreign to me. Inside Sopley, a ‘world within a world’, I had a role, I belonged. I was normal – I felt, ate and slept well; I was present and engaged and enjoyed nearly every aspect of what went on. I made friends, I do not recall a harsh word with any of my colleagues and I had never been so well remunerated, £60 per week – plus full board. Desolation had been succeeded by consolation – and fun. I have only ever been drunk twice, both times at Sopley parties. I recollect a few of us running around and around in a circle laughing hysterically before collapsing in a heap on the floor – and no hangover the next day. On one of those two occasions David Hardisty provided me with my only sighting thus far of projectile vomit, thankfully outdoors, near the entrance to the staff canteen.

My immediate colleagues were the handful of young British fieldworkers and Vietnamese interpreters. The first fieldworkers were from Bradford University Peace Studies Department, their placement arranged by Brigadier Michael Harbottle (the first administrator), after which they had to write up a report of their experiences and return to Bradford for the final year of study. Eamonn, Shirley Stainton a ‘Geordie’, Sue Millman and Chris Bartlett were in situ when I arrived. Formerly a policeman in Hong Kong, Chris spoke Cantonese. Sue was a bundle of frenetic energy, Shirley and Chris more self-contained. Shirley and Chris went to Thorney Island Reception Centre and Sue to a new reception centre in Ashford. Replacements included Helen Clifford (née Ashworth) who enjoyed – and still does- what she calls ‘banter’, the generally serious Andy Palmer, the urbane Peter Cox, who had attended Southampton University and fresh-faced Simon Foster, a Community Service Volunteer, who had given up his job (a pharmaceutical drugs rep.) with which he had become disillusioned. Andy also a CSV was from Herne Bay in Kent. Eamonn from Strabane in Northern Ireland returned to Sopley in 1981and stayed to the end in 1982.

The mostly South Vietnamese interpreters had been in England a few years, and were led by Diep (right) who was short, wore glasses and at first sight looked forbidding. She was married to Scott, an Englishman. Diep was supported by Siu Sing Ling from Hue, Ngo Ngoc Tuan (left) the life and soul of any gathering, the rather lugubrious La Khai Xieu (known as ‘Xieu/Siu 2’), Christine and Neng, another Christine (right) who also went to Thorney Island, Huynh Van Duc, Duong Dung Minh known as ‘Thin’ Minh’, another young man whose name eludes me (see photo page 10) and not forgetting Khouv Tchun Seng and Annie Lim. Two sisters, Kim Bien Mai and Kim Chuong Mai, both Catholics, came from a higher strata of South Vietnamese society, and  were quite different and distinctive in manner. Each fieldworker was teamed with an interpreter and I was paired with the tallish and always very correct Kim Bien Mai who also had a quaint voice. She married Andy in 1984 and Kim Chuong Mai married Duc. Their ‘masks’ sometimes dropped and seeing them giggling together was quite a sight. Diep also went to Thorney Island and was succeeded by Siu. An accomplished young man, Siu was literate in Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and English. He played guitar and passed the driving test at Sopley. He developed the habit of calling me ‘Chris baby’. The fieldworkers’ job description specified a range of duties but being at Sopley never seemed like work to me but a way of life among congenial colleagues and our Vietnamese guests.

Now – and in no particular order – some more Sopley scenes culled from my memory bank. Bear in mind I was not present when the camp opened and I was at Sopley for less than eighteen months (1979-80 and 1981-82). I shall begin with the man at the top, the Administrator Major Edmund Donovan invariably addressed as ‘Don’. 

Don’s flat cap which he wore much of the time, his prominent moustache; Don smoking cigarettes, his cough and wheezy laugh, and driving his Austin car around the site – to the admin building, up to the canteen and after work from the admin building back to his room. Occasionally Don sat in the office shared by fieldworkers and interpreters – I think he was looking for some ‘light relief’ – and he usually found it with the irrepressible and sometimes hysterical (in the best sense) Tuan whose high pitched voice occasionally emitted a voluble shriek. Don’s health was ropey; the diminutive Duc, at 20 the youngest interpreter, provided barefoot manipulative treatment for his back.

In one of the uninhabited storage buildings, Peter, who addressed me as ‘CB’, and I found two leather jackets dating to the Second World War; his a ‘bomber’ jacket for which he was offered £100 (a lot of money in 1980) in a pub and mine a sleeveless jerkin (reminiscent of those worn by the men who delivered coal in sacks on their backs in my childhood), which I later oiled and used for a long time. An amusing and surreal incident took place in our office; Peter and I were alone when a young man walked in, spoke quite animatedly to me in Vietnamese for what seemed a long time, but apparently satisfied with my reply ‘Doy kum beit’ (spelt phonetically, and meaning ‘I don’t know’), promptly turned and walked out.

Andy was in charge of preparing huts for new arrivals, but we all helped out; I recall Eamonn  and I working up to midnight on a cold 1979 December night assembling bunk beds and ‘making them up’, then on finishing standing outside and looking up at the starry sky. ‘Cin da Ella’ was the 1979 Christmas pantomime, concerning a missing young Vietnamese girl, written by the fieldworkers and performed in the admin building including David Hardisty wearing a flat cap as Don in car driving mode along the main corridor  and Eamonn as Upper School headmaster Gordon Griffiths complete with a Welsh accent – ‘The children will be delighted’ is a favourite line he remembers and repeats with pleasure and a little pride. 

The barrel-chested Major Harry Harrison in charge of supplies, (bedding, cooking utensils etc) was frequently overwrought and to think he had worked in bomb disposal! By October 1979 the Vietnamese no longer ate meals together in the large canteen building but in their rooms. Food was prepared in separate kitchen buildings (right) situated between the huts (originally utility rooms) fitted with four calor-gas powered units (eight gas rings), two units per hut. Inventory check-lists for new arrivals were signed for and checking-out lists for departing folk, both supervised by fieldworkers, occasionally needing to be diplomatic if items were missing – and at the same time pacify an increasingly agitated Harry.

A RAF station covering twenty-eight acres, built in the early 1940s, Sopley was effectively a village, population of around 620, set in a quiet rural environment bordering The New Forest. All that was missing was a pub and post office. Greenery was plentiful (trees, bushes, hedgerows and grass) and although the buildings were basic and drab in appearance they were single storey and in consequence not overwhelming. I have been told that psychologically green is a calming colour, so maybe some benefit accrued to all of us who lived/worked there. There was a sports field, and the tennis court attracted some youngsters, albeit wearing debatable footwear (right).

Helen Clifford, secretaries Pam Palmer, Karyn Smyth (Don’s secretary) and Liz Etheridge drove in to work, Helen in her blue ‘Triumph’. Frank, a driving instructor, found some eager clients among the fieldworkers and interpreters. Deputy Administrator Roger Jones (left) owned a vintage ‘Humber’ car (he and I went to Cheltenham in it to see our respective families). Intelligent and knowledgeable (he spoke seven languages), with a sense of humour (who could forget his booming laugh), his speech became hesitant when he felt pressured. On peering into our office he usually exclaimed ‘aha’ if he spotted someone to do his bidding. Tuan habitually pronounced Roger as ‘Row-ja’.

Mention of Sopley and cars is a sore point for Eamonn; his left ankle was shattered on a cold winter night when a car in which he and I were passengers hit a telegraph pole. Neng drove as we travelled the short distance back from a pub in Bransgore. The cause of the incident may have been icy conditions and a loss of control but it emerged that Neng did not have a license. Eamonn was hospitalised in Poole. After his return to Sopley and still on crutches he beat me at table tennis (I kept hitting the ball straight back to him, he did not reciprocate). One Saturday in April 1980, Andy, Eamonn (still on crutches) and I decided to go to the Norwich versus Wolves football match, travelling via London and enjoying egg and chips and drinking cups of tea in a café near the ground after the game.  

On Sunday mornings a coach took some folk to the Hurn Christian Fellowship; Don, a Catholic, worried about vulnerable people being susceptible to indoctrination, had more than one discussion with Pastor Roy Hicks. I attended a couple of the evangelical style services (left). Chinese choruses of ‘Thankyou, thankyou Jesus’ (phonetically, ‘Doy-chay, doy-chay Yea-su’) were sung by the entire congregation. In August 1980 I received an invitation to the wedding of ‘Michael’ Lok from South Vietnam to Julie Morton an English member of the congregation. In 2005 when the church closed Hicks claimed 250+ baptisms, about one-tenth of the total Sopley population 1979-82, some of whom he had kept in contact with.

Among the many English volunteers I remember a childless young woman and her noticeably older husband, wishing to befriend a child – for whose benefit I wondered. Memorably when introduced to the scandal-hit Jeremy Thorpe (accompanied by his wife), Tuan exclaimed ‘I saw you on tv’. The elderly Fred and the bespectacled Nick provided ‘security’ at the entrance to the site; the latter was dismissed, I believe, for ‘interfering’ with a female resident. Refuse collections (not to be confused with one letter I saw addressed to ‘Sopley Refuse Centre’) were regular and a team of residents patrolled the site picking up litter. DHSS staff visited, after which the recipients, mostly women and young children, trailed up to Bransgore to cash their cheques and support the local shopkeepers.

Frequently heard were the so called ghetto blasters obtained in Hong Kong where the ethnic Chinese from North Vietnam were allowed to do paid work. On hearing one song I liked, I sang the four word refrain in our office, only to be told by an interpreter from South Vietnam it extolled the virtues of the North Vietnamese Army! The first intake at Sopley in June 1979 comprised people from South Vietnam who arrived with virtually nothing, initially rescued at sea by the British ship Sibonga. Over time the balance equalled out, although when I arrived Hut 3 was occupied by Cambodians including ‘Pop’ (right). One unexpected consequence of the changing demographic was the staging of a football game South Vietnam versus North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese team included a former professional player Lam Duy Lan. Slim and skilful, he pulled the strings in midfield. The team strips were donated but he played clad in white long-johns, what we now call ‘onesies’.

A staff versus Vietnamese football match was arranged. The staff included Nick Rhodes and Dave Barnes from Adult Education, David Hardisty and fieldworkers including me. I recollect making an unsuccessful overhead kick on goal in ‘their’ penalty area. Tuan and To Minh Huu (with whom I was becoming acquainted) were among our eager opponents. Andy probably refereed the game, played on the sports field in front of a small but mixed enthusiastic crowd. Lan wrote an article about his career for an edition of the Sopley Newsletter, an occasional A4 photocopied document containing much information on life at Sopley and contact with the outside world.

At the time of the Chinese New Year in February 1980, Lan’s (right) well-written note was one of several invitations I received to celebratory meals. Eating and drinking moderately was necessary before tactfully leaving for another feast (I use the word advisedly) in another hut. Whenever in the huts I was met with genuine hospitality as coffee, Chinese tea, cake, sweets and cigarettes were proffered. There was a lot of smoking at Sopley and 555 State Express cigarettes were readily available at the on-site WRVS shop.

The rudimentary huts the Vietnamese and few residential English and Vietnamese staff occupied, provided the basic essentials. However all huts were centrally heated and the much in evidence ground level supply piping was well insulated (left)). Each morning I stepped over piping as a short cut from my room to the staff canteen, anticipating a ‘full English’, cereal, toast and cups of tea. I had a large room, containing a comfortable single bed, large table, a chair, wardrobe, sink & a bedside table for my Hitachi radio/cassette player.

Rooms the same size as mine contained tables, chairs and bedding (i.e. 3 bunk beds) for as many as 6 Vietnamese i.e. for larger family units who sometimes needed an extra small room with a bunk bed, plus table and chair. Having seen photographs of the large warehouse style accommodation used in Hong Kong, the rooms at Sopley definitely afforded more privacy.

Fieldworkers and the interpreters were the ‘eyes and ears’ of the ‘village’, there was no part of the site that was off limits to us; we spent time in the huts, socialising, helping out with English words and phrases, and homework – Eamonn in this instance (right). When accompanied by our assigned interpreter we answered any concerns and if necessary reported back to the relevant office, resettlement, teaching, education or medical personnel. Quyen a newly arrived young woman in one of my huts (33 I think) had a problem tooth and I informed the medical centre. She was grateful and later made a point of happily showing me the temporary filling.                                                                                                                                

Of particular concern to the medical team were those Vietnamese who had TB. Every new arrival came with a chest X-ray, plus other records, all inside an ICEM plastic bag. The featured illustration reveals there were seven family members; Quach Nhat Tan was ‘HOF’ (head of the family) and he was responsible for the bag and its contents. The family group were part of the 10,000 people Prime Minister Thatcher agreed to accept (a small number compared to Canada, Germany and of course France and especially the USA); she is given credit for her decision but at the time I did not know she had to be really persuaded to do so.                                                                            

News filtered back to Sopley after resettlement and the elderly Mr Tan would feature in the October 1981 Sopley Newsletter.

Part of the fieldworker and interpreter remits was administrative e.g. carrying out inspections, checking on health and safety matters etc. The creative yet dangerous electrical wiring arrangements in some huts, whereby ghetto blasters were wired up to ceiling light sockets, was an obvious concern. Imagine our surprise when we came across homemade rice wine being distilled, utilising metal waste paper bins from Harry’s store. It was potent stuff. Puzzling, were the few new arrivals who slept between blankets rather than bed sheets.

When I began my first stint at Sopley, one hut accommodated single men only but it was wisely decided to disperse them among other huts. Initially I had the thankless task, when I was the designated liaison fieldworker, of tracking down truants from adult education classes; I recollect one ‘student’ from South Vietnam, an unprepossessing, recalcitrant youth named Hoa (right) who, thankfully, was found work helping out in the food store. Each hut had a leader appointed by the responsible fieldworker, tasked to arrange cleaning rotas. Drains blocked with rice were a common problem, not only in the separate kitchen units but also in the huts as some families had electric rice cookers bought in Hong Kong. Visits to huts were not always strictly altruistic or administrative; in Hut 33 a married couple (the man, Vu, was hut leader) had a small colour television set, and Eamonn and I popped in to follow the World Snooker Championship, eventually won by Terry Griffiths.                                                   Left: April 1980, Eamonn and Chris, about to sip Chinese tea, photographed by Vu.

Hut 28 was the scene of a tragedy, the suicide of a wife and the mother of two small children from North Vietnam. The husband of the deceased had a number of relatives at Sopley for support but she may have felt very alone, bereft and homesick. A single fleeting memory tells me she wore her hair in a pigtail. A subsequent, understandable, difficulty was the reluctance of other folk to move to the room concerned afterwards, only resolved when a new intake of people arrived. I had first-hand experience of the issue because I was in charge of allocating rooms. I suspect the newcomers were never told what had occurred.

A rare flashpoint involved Eamonn and I. Without an interpreter we were somewhat heavy handed in our approach in one of the huts, towards two newly arrived young men; in what seemed like the blink of an eye, doors and cupboards were slammed shut and suddenly we were confronted with two angry young men armed with machetes. Fortunately we were too stunned to make any quick movements and instead withdrew slowly and quietly, our hands held up in a palms-facing pacifying gesture. Our pale faces were noticed when we sat down in our office. The incident was duly reported, the men told such behaviour in England was inappropriate and carrying weapons was illegal. It was a useful way of educating our guests in a way that allowed them to save face, an important issue we had been made aware of. The lesson was learnt. I was surprised on approaching Hut 33 to come across the quite frankly shocking sight of a youth with learning difficulties masturbating. His parents were politely informed a repetition in public would scandalise English people; again the emphasis was placed on the ramifications of a possible future repeat incident.

Wendy Orr (Head of Adult Education, who lived on site in another hut) knocked on my door in the middle of a very cold winter night after she was awakened by a fire alarm sounding off; we went over to the far side of the camp to see if anything was amiss, to be met by a PSA ‘maintenance’ man. I am not quite sure where he appeared from although he and his colleagues were to be seen doing various jobs during the daytime. Another memory from the 1979/80 winter – fieldworker Jonathan (right) driving a few of us back in a PSA van from Christchurch after pizzas in a restaurant, on a beautifully crystal clear cold starlit night and travelling at speed straight across a frosty grass covered roundabout. Jonathan left early in 1980, not caring for admin work, but called in briefly on his motorbike in August.

Gus, the cook and his assistant Rose served up traditional English fare in the staff canteen. Gus, certainly of pensionable age, was probably Polish. He sported a bristly ginger moustache and wore a ginger wig. The young dark haired Rose was quiet and moved around slowly but steadily; her deep dark eyes were drawn towards Eamonn, who tried to avoid her gaze and was the butt of some remarks. Mealtimes were convivial, the largest gathering at lunchtimes when the secretaries and other non-residential staff were present.

The English volunteers who came to the camp were one part of a two-way system in so far as many Vietnamese went out for a variety of reasons e.g. the 1980 Christchurch Festival when I photographed a mixed troupe of young dancers (left), singers and musicians led and supervised by Duc, with Siu in support, playing guitar and better able to communicate conversationally with English people, than the younger and somewhat diffident Duc. However in fairness to Duc he explained the dances and songs to the audience (right). The dancers were colourfully attired, waving chiffon scarves and manoeuvred themselves over and around long, thick bamboo poles, decorated in red and yellow stripes, manipulated by Duc and helpers. Roger compiled a report for the August 1980 Sopley Newsletter (extracts below).

I recall an evening trip to see a swimming pool entertainment, also an evening game of cricket between a Sopley XI versus (so Eamonn tells me) a Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra XI. We had a secret weapon in the young tall Khanh; he had the physique of a fast bowler and was put through his paces at Sopley prior to his debut. Suffice to say his enthusiasm far surpassed his skill as a cricketer. My abiding memories of the encounter are Eamonn fielding at 1st slip, taking an excellent two handed catch by his right knee, watched by me at 2nd slip, and secondly the orthodox, yet studious, slow bowling demonstrated by the mild-mannered  Michael Meadows. He was the senior player in our team; because he spoke Cantonese he had been assigned to the resettlement department at Sopley,

On weekdays there were outings to attend appointments at local hospital clinics; memorably before one trip a furious young single woman (she had a limp) from the Catholic Le family stormed in to our office, absolutely livid after her name was tannoyed along with those of pregnant women due for ante-natal tests. A corrective tannoy announcement was hurriedly made.  

Looking through copies of the Sopley Newsletter reminds me how frequent were the ‘comings and goings’ at Sopley.  It was a busy place and some nights film shows, discos and concerts were held in the cinema. Peter recalls one concert; tempers frayed when some children began to sing, punches were exchanged and chairs thrown. A bemused English contingent looked on; the ‘song’, Peter learnt, was the North Vietnamese National Anthem, unsurprisingly resented by the South Vietnamese present. In the cinema during my first month, I saw a scramble for donated clothes as large black plastic bags were ripped open and emptied out, (shoes were in short supply and as winter beckoned a new appeal was made), and a Punch & Judy show for suitably captivated children (left) during the autumn half-term  break.

Tannoying (audible in all thirty-three huts) was the preserve of the interpreters but being able to count and say a few words and phrases in Vietnamese was useful for fieldworkers; e.g. for a particular person to come to our office to take an incoming phone call in five minutes (‘nam phuc sow-wah lie nya’ is how the message ended if my phonetic memory serves me correctly). The often repeated announcement for someone to come to the office was easy to remember – ‘Attention, attention, name and hut number, come to the office. Thankyou’ – phonetically, ‘Sin loo-e, sin loo-e, c-moy, name, hut hi moy lam (25), len van fom gap. Kamun’ (above). On the subject of language, I noticed how some words were pronounced differently e.g. the phrase – again I spell it as I heard it in English – ‘kum cor chee’ was the South Vietnamese version whereas people from the north said ‘kum cor zee’. Another example, ‘do roy’ and ‘do zoy’ meaning, I think, ‘enough’. I checked out my observations and they were confirmed.

To follow, some ‘snapshot’ memories: short sleeved shirts worn in February (unheard in Cheltenham); small tightly bound feet (since childhood) of one old lady; David Hardisty’s shuffling short-stepped walk, hesitant speech, and shirt never properly tucked in; Simon Foster, Upper School teacher Gill Tovar and I attending evangelical church gatherings in Canford; handmade model boats given as presents, Helen Clifford (left) and Simon still have theirs; sudden flare-up between Eamonn and Siu which calmed down just as quickly; Pam Palmer’s bustling determined walk between the office occupied by Karyn and Liz and the resettlement team at the other end of the corridor; burly motorcycling local policeman Dennis Dickenson and June his wife who worked in the medical centre; smell of burning joss sticks; grim discovery of the buried remains of a still-born Vietnamese infant; large decorated metal thermos flasks that everyone seemed to possess (bought in Hong Kong); ‘Number One handsome man’ called out to me (very perceptive people, the Vietnamese!); hand-made kites; Eamonn answering the telephone, ‘Hello, I’m fine, How are you? Who is it?’; colourful Vietnamese stamps on letters from ‘home’, eagerly awaited by the tannoyed recipients; speculating if anyone had escaped Vietnam with gold bars; rabbits hunted in adjacent fields, ending up in Vietnamese stomachs; learning to use chopsticks, firstly to select food from communal dishes, then eating from a bowl which involved a degree of hand to mouth skill, co-ordination and dexterity.   

John Silver (left), then in his 60s, was an interesting quietly spoken character – tall, broad, bearded, he had the look of a seafarer. As the caretaker he lived on site; he (and, for a short time, fieldworker Richard McNeil) organised the transport rotas and maintenance for two white transit vans. John drove, as did Andy, Roger, Helen Clifford, David Hardisty, Simon and Siu. The main driver was Joe, a former chauffeur, whose wife Pam was around too. John and his wife developed good relationships with some of the Vietnamese and ‘held court’ in their house. John once came into our office and announced I was the only person who had a reliable record of where everybody lived on site thanks to my card index. The rumour mill has it that John subsequently served a prison sentence for handling stolen goods. Sopley was an ideal place to hide things and rumours still persist of secret underground facilities.

The card index matched the names of residents to their individual hut numbers. A typical hut (used by the RAF ‘rank and file’), contained different sized rooms and Huts 30-33 were configured differently again, maybe for the use of female personnel. The smallest rooms were best for single persons, but sometimes a couple with an infant had to make do, until a bigger room became vacant as people moved out and were resettled. I received lists of new arrivals in advance, so could make the necessary arrangements (Andy too, so he could requisition items from Harry’s store). To cope with a large number of people it was best to empty huts, which meant re-allocating any current residents. In between times I tried to be sympathetic and accede to requests to move. The system worked well and I do not recall any major upsets.

John Silver had a small office in the admin block, as did Sue Joslyn (a Careers Advisor who visited weekly from Southampton), and Harry too, shared later with his assistant Geoff Landells. Each complained about the other. Geoff claimed to have played cricket for Western Australia. He was usually clad like a gamekeeper, in shooting gear, even sometimes appearing with his shotgun (maybe to shoot rabbits), a dog and a girlfriend often in tow. His voice sounded tight and rather strangulated. Like Harry (who said ‘Vetmanese’ instead of ‘Vietnamese’) and one or two others, Geoff seemed to have no real interest in the Vietnamese.