In the decade that brought us Educating Rita, the college where I worked introduced a certificate for mature students, most of whom turned out to be housewives. Mindful of the need to encourage domestic support from husbands, we organised a buffet to break the ice. After an hour, the sherry had loosened a few tongues and I was cornered by what appeared to be a former rugby league player who said in his warm Yorkshire accent: "I were a bit worried when our Stacey said she were going to college. All that talk about randy tutors and that. Now I've seen you, Sid, I realise I've nowt to worry about."
Sid Brown teaches American studies at the Open University and is a professor of history in Maryland University's European division.
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