Monday, June 1, 2015

The Holland Park School Trip to Russia

I have been rummaging through the files at HQ in Notting Hill for an old school report from May of 1985. I thought it was lost but here it is, unedited, and unexpurgated, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Rasputin swam here. 


During one week in Russia with 47 children only one child consistently behaved in a disobedient, uncooperative and totally selfish manner. Naturally on school journeys one does tend to turn a blind eye to occasional misdemeanours (or at least tackle them on the journey itself) but in the case of Alex Reynolds this proved impossible. Therefore we have decided to write this report about his behaviour and very strongly urge that the matter be taken further. At the very minimum we recommend that his parents be seen and that he never be allowed to partake in a school journey again.

Here with a chronological list of events:

Getting smashed on the plane with my late friend and room mate Conor Egan 

SUNDAY: On the plane Alex consumed half a bottle of vodka and was seen encouraging others to join him. He was strongly warned, asked to cooperate with us and 'use a bit of tact Alex'. He did put the bottle away. However, on arrival in Leningrad, once in his room, he continued drinking, and we were amazed to find him still up at 1.30 a.m. drinking with his room mate. Again he was urged to cooperate which indeed at that point, he appeared to do.

Getting smashed in our room on the first night in Leningrad (1985). Conor is on the far right. 

MONDAY: We were extremely surprised to discover that on Monday night it transpired that Alex continued to drink through the early hours (5.30a.m.) Glasses were smashed and complaints were made by other guests in the hotel.

Asleep on the coach (far left) in Leningrad (March 1985) 

TUESDAY: Riot act was read to whole group. On going out on compulsory trips (both morning and afternoon) we discovered that Alex had taken it upon himself to stay in bed all day because he 'felt tired'. We later discovered that Alex was present for the oration but slipped away as we trooped off to the coaches. It was stated in the morning to the assembled 47 that they would have to be in bed by 11.30 p.m. This everyone complied with.

Out for the count: Conor sleeps off the vodka in Leningrad, March 1985

WEDNESDAY: No real problem during the day. However, that evening was the train trip to Moscow. Again Alex, who unfortunately was placed in a locked carriage during the trip, drank through the journey and so arrived in a very poor condition the following morning. It must be said that

1) He was not alone

2) There was no way to get to the carriage because the railway authorities locked the doors prior to departure.

Lots of empties in Leningrad. We deposited these outside the teachers' hotel bedroom door.

THURSDAY AND THROUGH FRIDAY: In the afternoon we visited Red Square. Here Alex shouted to all and sundry - 'Is this Red Square? What a rip off?' which in the context of the situation (new guides etc.) was both tactless and rude. In the evening all children were asked to be in their rooms by 11.30. At this time all staff spent 1 hour checking on all children. Alex and one other pupil were not present. The other pupil arrived at 2.00 a.m. and was dealt with. Alex failed to appear by 4.00 a.m. at which point, after considering whether to contact the police, we decided to wait until the morning - a decision based on 1. his past record and 2. the interests of the group as a whole. He finally returned at 9.00 a.m. that morning but on seeing us tried to run away. We apprehended him and he demonstrated no acknowledgement of his guilt nor did he even offer us an apology. Further to this, all staff by this time were exhausted after a mere three hours sleep and much worry. Therefore it became necessary to cancel arrangements for Friday evening, much to the disappointment of the other pupils, simply so we could catch up on sleep. Throughout the day he was boasting about being possibly sent home early and demonstrated no contrition - nor was an apology forthcoming.

Conor (left) and Paul (left). We blew up a series of condoms and put them in the hotel lifts. 

Later that evening we met with Alex in a hotel room. Here his attitude was astounding. He refused to admit any sense of guilt, felt we should pity him since he had no sleep the night before, and throughout behaved in a glib and utterly selfish manner. In the circumstances we informed him that we would take the matter up further at school and that any further misdemeanours would result in the Headmaster being informed.

Currency exchange slip. The official exchange rate was a skank so we decided to do illegal currency exchanges with Polish students who used to come and drink at the hotel in Leningrad and Moscow. 

SATURDAY: Alex was the only pupil not on a coach at 10.00 a.m. One member of staff actually had to go and get him out of bed. In the evening a party had been arranged for us by Intourist. Again, on arrival at coaches, no Alex. On getting to his room, Alex seemed reasonable and stated that he wanted an early night, would be reading, working and was worried about the early start the next morning. He was informed that we would be back around 12 midnight. We in fact returned at 11.30 and, when we went to his room, he was missing. He was found in the disco, wearing eye liner and pretending to be Holly Johnson. He was dragged back to his room. 

SUNDAY: A very early start - Alex spent the whole journey asleep and had to be constantly watched.

This is only an outline of major events. Throughout the whole week Alex behaved in an anti-social and unsavoury manner. 

1) Interrupting staff.

2) Offering to sell a waiter his Levis in the middle of a packed dining room.

3) Constantly drinking.

4) Urinating in a hotel plant pot.

5) Absenting himself from meals without informing staff.

6) Bunking off compulsory trips.

7) It was noticeable that when other pupils misbehaved Alex was usually with them. 

In conclusion, then, not only was Alex's behaviour totally unacceptable, but because of it, and because of the time staff had to spend dealing with him, the rest of the group inevitably suffered. 

It has also been noted that on return to school on Monday Alex has actually been boasting of his exploits (e.g. urinating in plant pots etc.) 

As it will be understood from the above, we believe we spent more time with Alex than any other pupil - the only way to have dealt with Alex in retrospect would have been to have one member of staff with him 24 hours a day.





COPIES TO: H.M., DEPUTY HEADS, H of Y, D.H. of Y, H of F's, Tutor, Co Tutor, C. Morris, S. Kruger, M. O'Connor, B. Sulatycki, V. Yorke. 

Conor in the bath, Leningrad, March 1985.