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House Points by Pauline Bedson Back

The Redcoats used to drum up enthusiasm for the many Butlin contests and organised activities by the use of a house points system, rather like school. Points were given for winners and runners-up of the various contests, and were announced over the microphone in the Dining Halls to loud, orchestrated cheering. We were usually in Gloucester House; I think you could request your house on the booking form, for continuity.

During our first holiday at Pwllheli camp, my uncle entered the Knobbly Knees Contest, in which the men had to walk around the ballroom either in shorts or with their trousers rolled up to their knees. The Redcoats did a lot of warming-up of the audience before the event, so that we would cheer and make a lot of noise when the contest started. My uncle didn't win, though, much to my aunt's relief.

The Limbo!When we returned in 1959, Butlins had introduced a new type of contest, the Limbo. The contestants had to dance or shimmy up to a bar, to the music of Tequila (an instrumental Latin-American number which had been recorded by Don Lang and the Frantic Five). Then, without kneeling, crawling or touching the floor with their hands, they had to walk under the bar, which was progressively lowered for each round.

I would have loved to join in, but didn't have the courage. I was only fourteen and most of the contestants were in their twenties. So instead, my cousins and I used to limbo under the barriers that were situated along the camp roads to prevent cars from driving into the chalet areas.

Click here to see a picture of the limbo being demonstrated in 1959

On one occasion, I was foolish enough to join in the House Games on the Playing Field in the centre of the camp. All went well at first, with team games such as passing a football over the heads and under the legs down the team lines, plus relay races and similar straightforward activities.

But in the last relay race, each team member had to run to the front in turn, hold a cricket stump with its point on the ground, place your forehead on the top of it, then pivot round about ten times before running back to the next person in line. I did this with great gusto, not realising that, on standing up again, I would be totally dizzy. I could not stand upright or walk straight. I was swaying all over the place like a sick old drunkard, and fell to the ground. Everyone was laughing at me. It was horrible!

For a little swot like me, a much easier way to earn house points was to fill in the address cards that were on the table at mealtimes, for people who might like to receive a Butlin's brochure. I knew the addresses of almost all my school classmates, and filled them in each day, plus everyone else that the family knew.

Photograph AlbumAt the end of the week, I was delighted to hear my name called out over the microphone, to receive the prize for the person who had filled in the most address cards. The prize was a box containing a matching address book and photograph album.

The address book lasted me all through school & student days, and well into my married life. It went all over Europe with me on my student youth hostelling holidays.

And I still have the little red photograph album, which contains my black and white photographs of holidays at Butlins Pwllheli camp in the 1950's and 1960's.

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