• “Go to Alresford”
• “Good laugh at Al. Usual missing of clothes etc”
• “Got home about 5:30”
Old Alresford Place was built in the 17th Century as a country parish rectory.
In the 1800’s it became the home of the Rt Hon Reverend Sumner, whose wife Mary founded the Mothers Union, now a worldwide christian organisation boasting a membership of over 3 million grassroots volunteers and helpers.
The lovely building became a stylish commercial “christian retreat” deep in the heart of the Hampshire countryside.
Here’s what I remember – and what I am willing to openly divulge – about my two night stay there in 1974…
• It was run by a bunch of nuns. If not nuns, then women who dressed in some kind of nun-like garments
• The dining room was massive, containing a HUGE and very solid dining table that sat around 30 or more people
• I was there for some kind of ‘religious’ retreat thing organised by my TIB group, a group which included Val (my unattainable crush), one of my best teenage chums (Trev) and sundry other nefarious characters.
• Also in attendance – from another religious group that presumably ran ‘parellel’ to ours – was Angela (again, name changed to protect her identity). Yes, the same Angela with whom I had shared a certain ‘ religious experience ‘ during a sleepover at a vicar’s residence in February 1973.
• All the different groups got together for praying and general religious brainwashing in a chapel somewhere on the premises.
• We also had writing and drawing lessons and I seem to recall some singing songs rubbish one of the afternoons whilst our vicar played a guitar. There was also a crappy football match.
• I can CLEARLY remember spending (at least) a couple of hours sat – with my feet dangling outside – one of the dorm room windows on the upper floor with my little cassette player blaring (and I mean BLARING) the opening sequence from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on constant repeat. I don’t think alcohol was involved, but I can’t be 100% certain. (Funny how certain things can’t be forgotten isn’t it?)
• I remember seeing Angela in the grounds below looking up at me and smiling & waving. Then coming to our dorm room and quietly asking me if we were going to repeat our ‘time’ of a year or so earlier.
• Each dorm room slept 8 teenagers.
• In the most respectful way I can possibly express this, let me say that our dorm room slept nine.
This religion stuff wasn’t all bad.