Tuesday, 11 April 2017



Everybody who's read it seems to be delighted with Ysenda Maxtone-Graham's book about girls' boarding schools - and so was I. (Much livelier than her Real Mrs Miniver whose company I tired of long before the end.) There's lots of bracing Malory Towers fun - but it's also rather sad when you read about homesick girls and unpopular girls who didn't fit in and were bad at games. And even though I was at a girls' day school - at the tail end of this period - gosh, did it bring back memories of foul  school food (we'd have thought a turkey twizzler was heaven!) and nuns and their stupid rules and, most of all, the aching boredom. By the early 70s it was assumed that most of us would go to university - but if you didn't, the options were nursing (I don't remember anybody setting their sights on being a doctor which was probably just as well given the abysmal science teaching), teacher training college or the civil service. At least we got out by 4pm. The day I danced down the street and thought, 'I'm never going back,' still glows in my memory.
This was a lovely book to read, no bigger than my hand - almost like a school hymn book. And at least my tweedy, twin-setted teachers were mostly kind. Reading reviews of this book, it seems that girls got off lightly.

6 comments:

A Trifle Rushed said...

I've been meaning to read it. I boarded between 8 and 13, then to a girl's day school. I was amazed at them complaining about uniform, as I'd come from wearing boaters and white gloves anytime we left the school! Just catching up with blogs I love, hope all is well with you. Jude x

Mary said...

Good to hear from you again, Jude. I'm sure you'd love this book. Yes, we had gloves, rock hard boaters in summer - they were a lethal weapon when hurled in unladylike fashion - velour hats in winter - lace mantillas for chapel and wedding veils marked with Cash's nametapes. I left in 1974 so it must have been the swan song of the old-fashioned gymslip. The nuns were silently gliding God's policemen, mascara was a mortal sin ... But I do see school parties out and about today and think that the teachers could use some crowd-contrrol techniques from Irish nuns. Even the naughtiest girl could sit for an hour without moving a muscle.

Lucille said...

It made me so grateful that I confined my boarding school experience to Mallory Towers. I'd have been mortally homesick. Luckily my mother having been put into the not so tender care of nuns from the age of four would never have countenanced sending us away to school.

Mary said...

It was quite bad enough being institutionalised until 4pm, Lucille. I'm always astounded when someone says they enjoyed school. If only I'd known that I'd never, ever have to offer proof of passing all those dreary, utterly useless exams ... But at least our generation didn't have pushy parents.

Mary said...

Jude, I've just seen your post about gorse buds. Don't know if you'll see this - and I don't do Instagram - but they were doing pickled broom buds yesterday at Ham House - guess broom/gorse is much the same thing? Tasted rather like capers. You can also pickle ashkeys and elder buds if you feel inspired! I noticed some nice, fresh green ashkeys growing in the avenue.

lyn said...

I agree with you about T&C. I found it desperately sad in parts & can't understand the reviews that call it the funniest book ever etc. Maybe I'm just not stoic enough but I found the waste of all that potential frustrating & depressing. I enjoyed reading the other bits & SF editions are beautifully produced & lovely to hold.