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Dagmar Döldissen (Leeds, 1971-3)
“Work …”
When starting my Leeds ‘career’, I was very fortunate because Fred Bridgham came at the same time; so we could explore the city, department, countryside, and some other things, together. – Worried at the beginning what it would be like to be Lektorin, I especially remember Professor Wilkie who, with his friendly Scottish accent, was one of the kindest persons I have ever met. For instance that glass of shandy he insisted on, in the Senior Common Room before lunch – what comfort because, with glass in hand, it was so much easier to conceal that I didn’t grasp any of Professor Thody’s jokes.

My daily chores normally began with tea and coffee break in the department, "Nice" biscuits included. What I liked a lot then was Gareth Davies [Senior Lecturer and later Professor of Spanish, a Welshman and former ‘Bevan-boy’ down the mines] coming down the corridor in hob-nailed boots. He tried hard to teach me some Spanish, even in hot sunshine on the department balcony where he burnt his feet.

Otherwise work for a Lektorin in those days wasn’t that exhausting. The hardest thing for me to do was the German class for beginners. It must have been extremely interesting – teaching-material being a thin red book called Das schöne Deutschland from around 1900. I was surprised when the class was cancelled after one term. So, instead, I went to Schofields with Hugh Rorrison to buy cheese, olives and wine for regular departmental meetings.

It was always a challenge to my sense of humour, working with Raymond Hargreaves – he just knows too much German. However, I got the last laugh when he had to act in Fred’s production of Zuckmayer’s Der fröhliche Weinberg. I remember, Raymond was that awful lawyer who twisted his knee and was refused by the ‘Weinberg’s’ daughter [guess who!].

As a relief from hard work in the department (see above), there was Leeds Market. I got quite addicted to it. After having been introduced to it by Irmgard Tailby, I preferred to spend my mornings there – thus, I suppose, preparing conversation classes, because the main topic in those days (1971/2) was: “Should Britain join the Common Market?”

What luck I had by being there at the beginning of the seventies! Miners’ strikes (my mother sent candles from Germany), cheap exchange rates, 1 pullover = £1, – how much was a Chinese lunch then? – and the English telling me how wonderfully hard and efficiently Germans worked.

So I could indeed feel quite at ease – waiting for students to come to my office, reading Tolkien inbetween, finding ways to escape the High Table in Tetley Hall, and doing some shopping with cheap pounds. What a highlight – those two years between studying and teaching!

You know, Richard, what I miss a lot? – the Yorkshire Dales, bathing in Appletreewick, walks near Ingleton, Fountains Abbey, country pubs … I would love that walk with Douglas Cossar! (By the way, I’m still a fan of Leeds United, and the Billy Bremner T-shirt is in the drawer still.)