I have no idea whether this took place in response to a request from the ladies for the men to step up and do their duty or whether it was part of some wider experiment. In the couple of years that followed a number of the men in their mid-30s married or became engaged to foundation-group ladies, but I don't recall any of the older single ladies being 'matched off'.
I am intrigued by the term ‘wider experiment’ and wonder what you mean by that?
haha, excuse my old cynicism seeping through again.
I certainly didn't mean it in the sense of encouraging relationships between members so as 'to breed the new master race' .... ooops!
Was there something that gave you the sense of an ‘experiment’ about the situation?
Yes, in the sense that while there may have been a limited application of this in the past, this was the first occasion (again, in my experience) of the school being so 'up-front' about this. While those who had passed through the Youth group, 6th form at St James etc may have been brought together socially on a number of occasions and had the opportunity to be introduced to each other, there were a number of us who were a bit older, single and who hadn't really had an opportunity to meet members of the other sex outside of our stream in a social situation.
Some of us had taken on board the instruction (which came in fairly early on), about the school not being seen as a (looking for the right way to word this, but probably failing) 'social club' in the sense of a place where you would meet new partners. Of course, as commitments in the school accumulate, there is less and less time to have anything like a 'normal' social life outside and it was always weekend duties (at Stanhill or Waterperry) or 'study days' which also meant that it was difficult to meet friends and family (who lived 200 miles away) at the weekend. It certainly made me feel quite lonely and cut-off from anything outside of the school and I certainly failed to have any sort of relationship beyond causual friendship with any female during that period. Having been told on a residential to not even think about marrying before the age of 28, had also made things a little frustrating for me.
[I forget the exact phrase that Dr Shephard said to me, but it was something along the lines of men not maturing and knowing where they wanted to go in the world until that age - which granted, when I had passed that age, I could see some sense in, but at the age of 22, it had left me a bit confused.]
So, yeah, when I was familiar with the instruction to discuss with your tutor any major decisions in your life (change of home, job etc), I hadn't really expected to have also approached them for marriage guidance - but perhaps that was just niaveity on my part. While I could see from point of view of commitments etc in the school, it would appear easiest to share one's life with another member of the school as they might at least have some understanding of your commitments and you of theirs - I was uncomfortable with the idea of being introduced (or 'matched off') with someone much younger.
So, getting back to the point of me seeing this as an 'experiment', there were certainly a number of members in the school of both sexes who probably had a desire at some stage of their life, to get married, but were probably, like me, wondering how it would ever happen given the level of commitments that we had and how 'institutionalised' we had become. It had become impossible to think of getting married to someone outside the school - and yet we weren't supposed to look on other single members (or married) in that light - not that it stopped people, but one hadn't felt comfortable about considering it. So, there was a 'need' and it was probably more likely to have been voiced by the ladies (knowing how reserved us gents were) and to Mr Boddy's credit he put it out there. It was certainly new for the school to be that 'up-front' about things and so in the sense that it was a new, more open way of doing things in the SES, it was an 'experiment'.