What?" demanded Nell Wilson, clutching her bottle of gin to her chest in the manner of a drowning woman clutching a life vest.
"Dry January," repeated Hilda patiently, "You give up drinking for the whole of January."
"But why would you want to do that?" asked Nell in horror.
"Apparently it's good for you."
"Bollocks!" muttered Nell.
"Pardon?" said Hilda icily.
"Errr... I coughed," replied Nell.
Hilda glared at her, "I doubt that very much!"
"I'm not doing it," said Nell firmly.
"Why not? I'm doing it, Matron's doing it, Kathie and Nancy are giving it a go, so is Sharlie and in fact all the staff."
"Not me," said Nell firmly.
Hilda leant forwards and plucked the gin from Nell’s arms. "Yes you are, and all the money we save we are giving to the San."
"Bugger the San!" replied Nell, and seizing her gin, she ran from the room, straight into the arms of Matron.
"Don't try to struggle," said Matron cheerfully as Hilda once again removed the gin from Nell’s arms.
"I hate you Hilda Tallulah Ermintrude Annersley!"
"You will thank me for it later," said Hilda, not unduly bothered by this.
It is safe to say, that for the remainder of that month Nell’s famed sarcasm reached record heights, and all that were taught by her were very relieved when the clock struck midnight on the 31st January and Nell was able to drink again.
The San authorities were able to build a whole new wing with the proceeds of the Chalet School dry January money. It was named the Helena Wilson Wing in honour of the person who contributed the most money.