North Carolina Newspapers

    Tuesday, December 10, 1974
Page 3
Letter From London
Living With Inflation and the IRA
F^ssay Staff Keporter
Because my past two articles covering
the NCSA London course have dealt
primarily with our academic and
theatrical activity here, I feel that some
words should be said at this time
concerning the economic and political
perepective here, too. Of course, any
opinions stated here in no way are meant
to imply a group consensus, although in
some cases, other members of our group
may agree.
When we arrived here on Oct. 2, few of
us 20 students knew quite what to expect.
Those of us who had been here on
previous NCSA summer courses were
perhaps more prepared than the novices.
But to any native Londoner, it was quite
apparent that we were all “tourists” —
and Americans.
Several weeks were necessary to
become familiar with the British
currency system. During this period,
most of us had the feeling that these
funny new coins and bills were simply
play money and treated them as such. It
was not unusual to spend several pounds
on a new book or sweater, thinking
nothing of it. Only later did we begin to
realize that five pounds was actually the
equivalent of $1L50 in American money,
instead of only $5.00. Needless to say,
some re-adjustment of financial planning
was in order.
To compound this problem, some of the
students were told that a 28-day wait
would be necessary in order to complete
the transferral of funds between our U.S.
banks and the National Westminster
Bank here. Only through the efforts of
Mr. James Dodding, course director, and
Dean Pollock who kindly consented to
loan us cash from the course account
until the monies arrived, were several of
us able to keep the proverbial wolf from
our doors. (A word to the wise: Bring
Traveler’s Cheques or English currency
if you intend to' open a bank account in
The inflation problem here is
staggering. The English pound is now
worth one tenth of its value in 1900, and it
IS losing ground daily. In addition, the
^At times like this,
life in America seems
surprisingly safe . . .
scarciiy oi many commodities also tends
to jack up prices; many items that are
taken for granted in the States
commands a dear sum over here. For
instance, a cloth jacket worth $20.00 at
home costs at least $34.50 in London,
based on the current rate of exchange
(one pound sterling equals $2.30).
Food prices are somewhat comparable
to those in the U.S., but costs for such
items such as clothing, cigarettes, and
gasoline are nearly triple.
Transportation to and from school on the
“tube” and buses averages about $12.00
per month, in addition to approximately
$400.00 air fare from Canada, round trip.
When this high cost factor is added to
the bill for our schooling— approximately
$4,000 per year out of state, $2,000 in
state- the total for this seven month
period comes to practically double the
total cost for a nine month period at
NCSA, North Carolina.
(Before continuing, please allow me to
say that I do not mention these statistics
in way of complaining— I only attempt to
point out some of the harsher realities of
a civilization less affluent and more
overcrowded than our own).
Similarly, certain everyday
conveniences so much taken for granted
in the U.S. do not exist in England. Such
services as hot running water, central
heating, and unlimited private telephone
use are all extravagances for the people
such as us who live in “bed-and-
breakfast” accommodations.
In our rooming houses, or “digs”, it
costs about 20 cents for enough hot water
to fill a bath tub. (Fortunately, there are
free hot showers at Morley College.) In at
least one of our women’s residences, the
electricity for heating and hght shuts off
after two hours unless 15 cents is shoved
in a meter on the wall!
For the British, calls on private
residential phones cost about eight cents
apiece, plus the monthly fee. And as Mr.
Dodding can testify, there is now a two to
tnree year wait just for telephone
installation in the London area!
On the political scene, the prospects for
Great Britain look pretty gloomy,
according to the London press. Along
with inflation and shortages, the
infamous Irish Republican Army
(I.R.A.) is creating havoc for the British
imperialists who still try to control
Northern Ireland.
Explosions and terrorism, until
recently confined to Ireland, have been
occurring here in London; last week Mr.
Dodding found it necessary to call an
assembly in order to inform students of
the procedure he would implicate in case
of bomb blasts.
Dodding and other staff members will
be phoning all student residences
whenever any explosions take place in
the London area, in order to make sure
one of us was not injured— or killed.
The possibility of such a distinct
menace to one of our own lives is a
feeling most of us have never had to think
about. At times like this, life in America
see^ surprisingly safe and secure.
Finally, the problems of housing,
nationalized medicine and transportation
continue to plague this largest of English
Recent strikes by landlords in protest
to the hotly disputed “Rent Act” have left
thousands of Britons homeless. The new
law, which is decidedly in favor of
tenants, is now worldng in direct
contradiction to its intended purpose,
resulting in bitter disputes between the
two factions. In some areas, squatters
are becoming a common occurrence, and
everywhere people are questioning a
government wnose increasea march
towards nationalization has resulted in
massive problems for its citizens.
Except in emergency cases, such as
Connie Kincaid’s recent operation, there
is often a three month wait to see a
medical specialist in the large urban
In all fairness, however, none of us
have had any trouble when visiting our
local “surgeons” (general
practicioners); there is a “surgery” in
every borough- free of charge, and we
also have a very competent medical
advisor specially for the NCSA program.
As most Londoners will agree,
although the government run “tube”
system does try hard, there are frequent
problems. In addition to IRA bomb
threats and delayed trains, it is not
uncommon to be practically suffocated,
squeezed into an underground car like
matchsticks during rush hour.
Obviously, many U.S. cities have
similar headaches. In a city as densely
populated as London, overcrowding and
liniitation is inevitable. I only attempt to
point up some of the less glamorous
aspects of life here in an attempt to show
another angle of the monthly picture I
have been trying to paint for our readers.
Certainly, in most of the London
students’ lives, the opportunity to work
and play in such a “theatrical”
environment is well worth all financial
and physical inconveniences that arise.
Indeed, the museums, shops, night life,
historical sites, and the people here are
numerous and varied. And, in spite of our
heavy work-load, our course directors
are continually encouraging us to “get
out and see London.”
Just this week (previous to a
niarvelous and mellow Thanksgiving
dinner arranged especially for us by Mr.
Dodding and his assistant, David
Wynne), a questionnaire from North
Carolina was distributed to each student.
On this form were such questions as
“name three advantages and three
disadvantages of the London program,”
and “do you plan to return to NCSA after
this year?” Each of us filled out his or
her sheet and handed it in to be sent back,
presumably to some board meeting or
self-study committee or Board of
I wonder what the results will prove
Are Practice Rooms “ Poor”?
Kssa> staff l{>|)orl‘r
The old classroom spaces of James
Gray High School have been rated from
terrible to suitable by those who practice
in them, but never good.
The Essay attempted to get student
comments on the practice rooms but
found most musicians in the rooms
(primarily string and piano) felt that
although the rooms could be improved,
they were tolerable. However, most
commented that for certain students,
such as brass and wind majors, the
acoustics were poor. Kurt Eslick, a
french horn major, commented that with
certain notes “the walls vibrate and the
ventilators play harmony with you.”
“I’ve been teaching here for seven
years and it’s been a problem for seven
years. They’re not ideal, but it’s what we
have and what we’ll use,” stated Robert
Listoken, clarinet faculty member and
member of the Clarion Wind Quintet.
Phillip Dunigan, flute instructor and
member of the Clarion, feels they are too
small for flute practicing. He has
forbidden his students to use the rooms,
holding that because of the size, a flutist
“cannot find the focus of his tone.”
Joseph Robinson, oboe instructor, and
member of the Clarion believes “the
worst problem is the fact that the
available practice spaces (whether dorm
rooms, hallways, closets, studios or
practice rooms) are so ‘live’ as to be
completely misleading to a student
developing tonal sensitivity.” His
students have complained frequently to
him about the accessibility and acoustic
suitability of the practice rooms.
The rooms, which have just been
painted, are eight feet by eight feet with
worn carpet on the floors and thin walls.
The hardness of the rooms make them
acoustically “live” and sound from
instruments will bounce around
excessively in them so many mistakes
cannot be recognized. A small part of the
problem has been alleviated with the
teaching studios, but the problem is still
very real. The studios have covered walls
to help absorb the sound and also have
carpeted floors. Studios are made
available to musicians when lessons are
not scheduled in them. However, the
majority of studios are used constantly
for lessons, leaving practice rooms or
dorm rooms as the only alternative.
No Problem
Scott Schillin, assistant to the dean of
music and piano instructor, maintains
that there is no problem. There is
enough space and adequate rooms.” He
stated that no faculty member or student
had complained to him about a problem
of this sort. He conducts a weekly
meeting during lunch with
representatives from the various
divisions in the music department and
has not been approached by anyone of
these representatives either.
He commented that a new addition for
the music department will be completed
within two years, including new practice
Nicholas Harsanyi, dean of music, has
said that he has not received any
complaints about the acoustics of the
practice rooms. He says, “If our practice
room facilities are shared equally, there
should not be any problem for our
students to find enough time and space to
work. They (the rooms) are no better or
worse than the practice rooms in any
other school.”
According to the Institutional Self-
Study Report, prepared earlier this year,
“the existing practice rooms were too
few, poorly lit and ventilated and
acoustically poor for practice...” It went
on to say that some of the problem had
been lessened by the renovation of the
Main Building, including the
construction of the six office-studios.
Committee Needed
Brought into light even more through
discussion of quiet hours at SCA
meetings, the acoustics of the music
practice rooms have been the subject of
controversy. At the meetings, D & P
students volunteered to help put
carpeting on the walls and floors, if it
were made available, in order to help the
rooms carry a better tone. According to
students, an arrangement oi this type
would definitely help relieve the “live”
atmosphere of the rooms, although to
what extent is not known. To date, no
committee has been set up to study or
organize such a project.
From Warner Bros.
Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Crawford Hall.

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