Saturday, March 07, 2009


Considering the fine honed athlete that I am today, even I find it hard to believe that I hated anything to do with gym classes or PE as we called it back in my school days.  Actually I think in Ulster we called it PT (Physical Training or more likely Physical Torture) just to be different from the rest of the world.

When I passed my 11+ exams and thus made it to boarding school, my parents were given a long list of the items they had to buy to equip me for life as a boarder. Of course, once I got to school, most of these items became the property of the thieving, bullying 6th formers who looked forward to new boys starting at the school.  I think they took the idea of relieving us plebs of our belongings as some sort of rite of passage - the passage being from us to them of course.  

One item they didn't bother with were our gym shoes or trainers or sneekers or plimsolls or whatever you'd like to call the footwear we had for PE/PT.   In those simpler days, we had no designer footwear from the likes of Mr. Nike or Mr. Air Jordan.  I'm not even sure if leather had been invented !

So we wore strange little black shoes with absolutely no support at all and if you stood on a penny, you could tell if it was heads or tails.  We might as well have painted our feet black. 

And what did we call these shoes that were more like slippers for all the good they did us ?

Gutties :  PE/gym shoes.

Woe betide those who went to PE without their gutties as they had to spend the period/lesson running around in their bare feet as, for some reason, we didn't have white sports socks either. It was either bare feet or gutties.

Where was Mr. Jordan when I needed him ?


Daphne said...

Gutties! Great new word! Never heard that before. In Leeds it was generally Pumps and PE. When I taught in Cardiff years ago, they were Daps or Dappers. As in "Miss, I've left my dappers oover by thurr. Can I bring them oover by yurr?"
I just have to add that I think boarding school is cruelty to children.

Jan said...

We always called "gutties" pumps. If you say you did gym in pumps here, they have visions of you trying to leap over the horse in a pair of high heels. :-)

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