02.09.2015 - Helen Moorwood

ESM English Ladies Stammtisch
Helen Moorwood (ESM 1985-2005)


Marianne Mueller asked me some time ago to write an article about the ESM Munich Ladies Stammtisch. At long last, here it is. The logic behind me writing – or at least compiling a series of short reports – was that I was in at the beginning and am still there, and the only one still in Munich who now also regularly enjoys the Ehemaligentreff (for the first time in 2013 in Munich, then in 2014 in Freiburg, and looking forward very much to many more future get-togethers.).

It was started in the early 1990s, based on an idea by Lynda Strike (who arrived at the ESM with husband Danny in 1987), supported by Jill Evans (who, with husband Nigel, had been there since the early 1980s), both wives of full-time teachers in the English department of the Higher School and themselves part-time in the Primary School (Lynda later c.1994-2004; Gill also in the Upper School). Wouldn’t it be good to have an evening together every now and then for an ever-growing group of ladies, who otherwise tended only to bump into each other in one of the staff-rooms or corridors or teachers’ meetings? And also wives of staff, who didn’t even bump into each other in these places? From the beginning any ‘rules’ about ‘English’ were interpreted very loosely: a non-English wife of a teacher in the English section; or an English wife of a teacher in another section; also welcome was, of course, any English speaker from anywhere in the world – and indeed, anyone else who was interested.

And so it came to pass, and has been happening ever since, usually three or four times a year. Some of us remember an early meeting when Richard came with Ann Goosey and we all laughed with the ‘Hahn im Korb’. Since then it has been only ladies. That was back in the ‘age before emails’ and I’m not at all sure how each forthcoming meeting was announced – mainly by slips of paper and word of mouth, I seem to remember. There was never any idea of a ‘committee’ or an ‘agenda’ – the aim was always a purely social get-together. Lynda suggested a time and a restaurant (always somewhere easily accessible for all), booked a table, we all passed the word round and those interested turned up. There were usually (and still are) anywhere between eight and eighteen of us and every time we have always enjoyed ourselves enormously and looked forward to the next one. (The photo at the end shows just nine at the last one, but there were fifteen at the one before.)

It seemed logical to ask all the organisers to provide their reminiscences. This has inevitably produced much repetition, because we are all writing about the same get-togethers. However, the very repetition serves to underline the enjoyment and enthusiasm of all who have attended over the years – now 25 of them!

Lynda Strike’s reminiscences
Back in 1987 daughter Lucy joined the kindergarten and I formed a great friendship with Barbara Moss, seeing her twice a day in term time. Lucy moved over to the Big school and in spite of our friendship Barbara and I met only about once a year!!! So I decided I would organise a Stammtisch for the English female section, especially for non-working spouses. I can’t put a date or venue on it, probably Pontevecchio about 1990/91. We held it in various venues until I handed over probably about 2005/6. I used to operate the same system as Danny did with pupils who forgot books...two red dots next to the name for no reply... third one struck off list!!! I thought it was important, especially for wives.

Lynda and Danny Strike then retired back to England in 2008, following Nigel and Jill Evans. Meanwhile, Eirwen Adkins (ESM 1988-2009) had already taken over the organisation of the Stammtisch and continued for several years until handing over to Juliet Schick. Eirwen too has since returned to England, not because of retirement, but her husband Bob’s relocation in 2009.

Eirwen Adkins’s reminiscences
I joined ESM in 1988 and found the Stammtisch an excellent means of having contact with other members of staff and keeping in touch with wives or girlfriends of staff. We always chose lovely restaurants or beer gardens and it was a great chance to chat about a variety of topics, sometimes about school too, in a casual, relaxed way. Food and drink did play a role as well! I seem to remember Il Cigno in Haidhausen being a popular destination as it served good food and wine and was within walking distance of the S Bahn. In the ‘olden days’ I had to write out the invitation, photocopy it and place it in each of the relevant pigeon holes at school! How much easier it must be these days!... After 6 years back in GB I look back fondly on my Munich Stammtisch days!

Juliet Schick (ESM 1988-2006), having taken over, gradually added to an impressively long email list of all ‘eligibles’. As the school grew there were ever more part-time teachers, mainly female, whose paths hardly ever crossed during school time. By now these regular get-togethers had almost become an ‘institution’, for which German provides the perfect word of Stammtisch. Without exception, all of us (mainly expats) have found it a delightful way of staying in touch with each other, and for us retirees, via those still teaching at the ESM, it has provided a convenient way of keeping up with major developments in the school. Non-stop yapping for a few hours always produces interesting joint memories and an update on respective lives – always with lots of laughter.

Juliet Schick’s reminiscences
I started teaching in the ESM Primary Section in 1988, as there were only a few teachers in the English Language section. This meant that keeping in social contact was easy. As time went on, the number of teachers in the department increased and social contact was difficult to maintain, especially as the Senior School colleagues were in a separate staff room, which was situated at the other end of a long corridor in the Senior School end of the building. To meet up was impossible during the relatively short breaks. Lynda’s idea of arranging an ESM English Ladies Stammtisch, including both Senior School and Primary School colleagues and Spouses, was the answer to the growing problem. I took over organising the Stammtisch evenings from Eirwen. I was still working at the school then, and “Stammtisch Evenings” were arranged by putting flyers in pigeonholes. This became logistically impossible when I retired, so we started the e-mail system.

I really enjoy every meeting. We have the opportunity of catching up on news of not only friends and ex-colleagues but also their families. Of special interest is the news of the “children”, many of whom we have ourselves taught. My one regret is that colleagues still working have a heavy work-load on top of their daily teaching programme. This means they have only an occasional chance of the “Stammtisch” opportunity. It’s a great shame but we look forward to “Stammtisching” with them when they retire.

Juliet herself had retired in 2006 and several years later, because of health problems and no longer being in school, handed over the email list to Pat Williams (ESM 1999-2012), who has organised the Stammtisch regularly ever since. Since her own retirement in 2012 she has always checked on school conferences, holidays, etc. with ex-colleagues who are still active at the ESM. Our last meeting was on a balmy evening in June 2015 near the Viktualienmarkt, where we made a point of taking our first-ever photo. So here you can see some of the ‘survivors’, a mixture of the ‘hard core’ and some enthusiastic newcomers, with a healthy mixture of oldies and youngsters. Now Pat is returning to England, but undoubtedly ‘the show will go on’ in Munich ad inf – or as long as some of us oldies are still around.

Pat Williams’s reminiscences
Yes, we are still soldiering on and meeting a few times a year to exchange news and views and put the world to rights. The majority of the regulars are ‘oldies’ which helps us all to keep tabs on those with whom we are no longer in daily contact. Our Stammtisch has definitely been one of the mainstays of Munich life which will be sadly missed when I return to the UK at the end of the year. I hope whoever takes over the organisation will keep me in the loop and allow me to attend, should I happen to be in Munich on a Stammtisch evening! Wishing all members lots of fun and laughter in the future!

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Left to right: Carolyne Ardron, Helen Moorwood, Jutta Peryer, Malu Berlin, Meg Engelmann, Linda Walsh, Sandra Maguire, Pat Williams, Liza Pooran. (June 2015)

Other ‘hard core’ regulars (or irregulars) still in Munich who excused themselves with regret this time (or on recent previous occasions): Liz Coles, Penelope Dite, Margaret McGinley, Barbara Moss (retired to Vienna), Mary Muscott, Julie Plugge, Sarah Ready, Munyee Rohls, Jane Ross, Juliet Schick, Helen Schweiger, Chris Singer, Helen Thomas, Cathy Williams.