We have been asking staff, students and alumni to share objects and places with us that make the University of Chester special to them. This week, alumna Pat Ransome (née Salter), tells us about an object that was essential to her during her time at Chester College – her pen! Pat studied at the then Chester College from 1969 until 1972, when a pen was a key communication tool for students with their families and friends back at home. Nowadays, students are used to instant communication with friends, family, and even lecturers, through their mobile phones and the internet. For Pat however, writing letters home was her main method of communication. Keep on reading to hear Pat’s memories of Chester College and her trusty pen…
“If only pens could talk… What tales my College pen would tell! How different to the lives of students today, who have instant access to information around the globe via their iPhones! Back then, in the late 60s, it was my trusted pen that was my means of communication, and that linked me into the wider world.
“A gift from my parents when I started at the College, it was a valued possession; an acknowledgement that I’d achieved my goal of attending Chester College of Education – my first choice of College that I had thought overly ambitious! The pen even had my name engraved on the side. So that was it, I had arrived!
“Initially the pen wrote endless excited letters home to family and friends, sharing in the new experience of College life. I was charting new waters and I wanted to share my new found freedom and independence. Parents, sisters, aunts and uncles, school friends, pen friends were inundated with tales of Chester. I wrote endlessly!
“I loved writing and sending letters. I spent many an hour in the library in Old College, writing notes from lectures but also penning my letters, eager to hear news of home and school. I enjoyed even more the handwritten letters of reply posted into my pigeon hole outside the library, and if the envelope had stamps or money in it so much the better! Simple pleasures.
“Letters gave way to lectures and notes when my pen really came into its own. Eager to capture every scrap of information shared, I had endless notes on the history of Physical Education – courtesy of Nick Parry, Divinity with Rev Poulton and Education with Mrs Appleton to name but a few! Reams of paper and brown files full of notes – précis has never been my strong point! I even reinforced the little holes on my notes in case they fell out of the ring binder! What was that all about?! Strange to think that now I have no idea what happened to them.
“I grappled too, pen in hand, with the newly delivered writing chairs with a funny shaped arm that swung in front of you, and more often than not, the pen was on the floor followed by your notes.
“Teaching Practice meant diesel fumed buses waiting by Gladdy Hall to transport you to the delights of your allocated school. Rounds of bread snaffled from the dining rooms (away from the glare of Annie Ross) in your pocket and the teaching plans, written late into the night by the light of your red angle poise desk light in your room Astbury 56, tucked into your bag! Late night and early morning merged as you set off at a seemingly ungodly hour in Lofty’s buses to whichever school you had been allocated to practise being a teacher. The pen came too!
“Then there were the dreaded exams where you would be seated individually at tables in Gladdy Hall. Special Study assignments drafted in long hand with the pen, then copied into print with a typewriter. Exploring the role of dance within selected schools in Lancashire and the meaning of the book of Exodus, amongst many other subjects. The pen reeled off innumerable words, gathered from researching my chosen areas. Still it worked and helped towards my qualified teacher status – even though I am still waiting to visit some of those places I wrote about in such depth all those years ago!
“There are so many other ways a simple pen played such an important part in my life when I was at College, and I muse that if pens could retell the writings they’d created what might we learn…?
“I still have the pen and it is still working!”