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Raisa Gorbachev Applauds Yule Carol at British School

December 07, 1987|Associated Press

CARTERTON, England — Raisa Gorbachev visited a typical English village school today, enthusiastically kissing flag-waving children and applauding the children's singing of "Away in a Manger" as she watched a Nativity play.

But the 55-year-old wife of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev said no thanks when the headmaster invited her to taste a mince pie baked by one of the youngsters.

Rose Pepler, 8, who had just completed a batch of the pies in cookery class, told her: "I'm not sure they're very good. I haven't tried one yet."

While her husband discussed arms control with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at nearby Brize Norton air base, Mrs. Gorbachev spent more than half an hour absorbing Christmas at an excited Edith Moorhouse Primary School.

Raisa Gorbachev, herself a former teacher, watched the 5- to 7-year-olds sing Christmas carols during a staging of the birth of Jesus.

Accompanying her were Britain's education secretary, Kenneth Baker, and the school's headmaster, Brian McCutcheon,

McCutcheon, who told Mrs. Gorbachev the story as it went along, said he believed that she had never seen a Nativity play before.

She presented the children with a book of drawings by Soviet schoolchildren titled, "Longing for Peace."

During a tour of the 200-pupil school, she invited 9-year-old Derek Whitelaw to visit the Soviet Union when he grows older.

Clearly disconcerted, he replied: "I wouldn't mind but I don't want to be on television."

The education secretary accepted an invitation to visit schools in the Soviet Union.

Raisa Gorbachev had asked to spend the brief stopover en route to the Washington summit watching how English children are taught.

McCutcheon said, "I was told she wanted to see a typical day in a typical English school and, at this time of the year, this is typical."

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