Minor question about To Sir, With Love

I think this is the least important question I’ve ever posted here, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about off and on ever since I first saw To Sir, With Love.

There is a scene in the movie where Mr. Thackery comes into the classroom and is upset to find his female students doing…well, I really don’t know what they were doing. They had some sort of little grill or hot plate device and were burning something, but I couldn’t figure out what or why. Sir was quite angry about it and gave them a lecture on behaving like respectable young women.

I can’t for the life of me figure out what this scene was all about. Obviously students shouldn’t be burning things in the classroom, but there seemed to be more to it than that. Can anyone explain to me what the girls were doing and why it upset Sir so much?

I’ve not seen the movie in quite awhile, but in the book, they were burning a used sanitary napkin.

That is what I thought too, but only after reading the book. They don’t really explain in the movie what they were doing. I guess you are just supposed to accept it was something nasty.

Goodness. Is that how such things were generally disposed of in the '60s, or were they just being nasty?

They were just being nasty.

I always figured it was something like that, but it happens so fast in the film, I never knew exactly what it was.


eeeeeewwwwww…why would someone do THAT?

To sir…with LOOOOOOOOVE!


This is what I get for searching for my nick. In the pan and scan I saw I don’t even recall seeing the grill, but remember Thackery screaming about “this nasty thing” or words to that effect.

Sir Rhosis

Do I dare make a bra burning analogy. . . ? No, I daren’t.

I always thought those kids were trying to be nasty and shocking and they finally found something that pissed Sir off, more than they thought it would.

The girls were just trying to be nasty, however: I recall seeing in some bathrooms in older hospitals the UK back in the mid-70s a little white enamel box with a spring-loaded lid mounted on the wall. Inside was an electrical coil, which heated up after the lid was closed, then shut off after two minutes or so (presumably a solenoid controlled the time). There was a little drawer at the bottom to clean out ashes.

I asked my mother, who grew up in Scotland in the 40s and 50s, what this device was. Apparently this was a common way of disposing of used sanitary napkins, circa 1950s. I have never seen any since, thankfully.