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 Post subject: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2019, 14:19 
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This is my first La Rochelle book (only just started reading it). Firstly, I would dispute the claim in the introduction of the FOCS edition that the LR series is an integral part of the Chalet Series, IMO spin-off would be a better description but maybe that's wrong?

I like cats, and was attracted to getting the book by the funny picture of kittens on the front. But this one really piles on the depressing news right at the start! With their Father's bad state, Cesca having to go, and Miss Catcheside's accident.

And it's slightly odd that the father is described as previously having been a secretary for Mr Wallis, presumably that means a company secretary, which would have been a male role?

When they go to school, it suggests their prefect badges had a motto "I Serve" written on them. Perhaps 1920s school badges were often like that, but I own some vintage ones from eBay and they have no motto. And surely they are just prefects, serving their school and headmistress. Isn't it hyperbolic how it says they are ultimately serving their country as well, or maybe only from a modern POV? And it's set in the Channel Islands, right? So must be an EBDism when it says that girls hurried off to catch trams and trains.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2019, 19:03 
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A Head Girls Difficulties isn't set in the Channel Islands, but it is part of the La Rochelle series because the characters visit Guernsey and become friends with the characters based there.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2019, 20:31 
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The La Rochelle series came first. Some of the characters in AHGD are the mothers of later CS girls. The two series aren't particularly a part of each other, but it's not unusual for publishers to "big up" links between different books as a marketing thing - and the Chesters, Ozannes and Lucys are quite a big part of the CS series.

It was published in 1923, so, if EBD started it even in 1922 then that'd only have been 4 years after the end of the Great War, and there was still a lot of "service" talk around then. The headmistress in the first Dimsie book insists that cutting the amount of times the girls spend on PE is helping to boost the nation by shaping the character of its future mothers. I do wish my school'd looked at things like that: I hated PE :lol: .

Ted Humphries was Jem's secretary.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2019, 21:43 
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There are lots of male secretaries in books of this period. It wouldn’t, for example, have been appropriate for a man to travel with a female secretary.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2019, 12:42 
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Katharine wrote:

When they go to school, it suggests their prefect badges had a motto "I Serve" written on them. Perhaps 1920s school badges were often like that, but I own some vintage ones from eBay and they have no motto.


Our school prefects' badges had the school crest and the school motto on, in the 1960s. So far as I know, they continued to use them for many years after that. And the motto was nothing like as short as 'I serve'; it was 'in aedificationem corporis Christi'.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2019, 04:26 
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Each book in La Rochelle set connects to other books in the La Rochelle set, but not necessarily directly to the Chalet School books. The La Rochelle series (plus Lost Staircase, Monica Turns Up Trumps and Chudleigh Hold) provide prequels/backstories for various girls who join the school in Guernsey and England.

Gerry (main character in Gerry Goes to School, and minor character in this book), appears briefly in Head Girl in the CS books. Rosamund Atherton in this book is the mother of Blossom and Judy Willoughby, and Cesca Atherton is the mother of Nita Eltringham. In the next book (Maids of La Rochelle) we meet the Temple sisters, who are the mothers of the Lucy, Chester and Ozanne girls. These various mothers and their offspring appear in the other La Rochelle books to varying degrees, and we see various courtships, births and childhoods. Nan Blakeney of the last book (Janie Steps In) appears or is mentioned in various Chalet books.

Some of the last few books were, I think, written before the related CS books, but published after, so things like the history behind Beth Chester's attitude get described in detail in the CS, but shown directly in the La Rochelle books.

I have a feeling the male secretaries would have been fairly high level administrative assistants, rather than taking dictation, answering phones and making coffee. Robin's father comes to the San as a secretary, for example.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2019, 09:40 
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jennifer wrote:
I have a feeling the male secretaries would have been fairly high level administrative assistants, rather than taking dictation, answering phones and making coffee.
Definitely. Anyone (whether an individual or an institution) who employed that kind of secretary would have had domestic staff or office underlings to deal with things like the coffee or the phone. Dictation would have been one of the roles of a typist, but in this sort of scenario, we're talking of a tradition of still hand-written letters, and a secretary to whom one could entrust the composition of most, if not all, letters.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2019, 10:37 
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At a considerably later period, in the early 60s, I worked for the Principal of the University of London, Sir Douglas Logan.

His office staff consisted of two shorthand typists of which I was one, a personal private secretary who was a female and a personal assistant who was male. Although he was much younger than the personal private secretary he appeared to rank slightly higher in the pecking order because he was a man.

I never actually worked out what he did though...

We started each day with a "prayer meeting" when Sir Douglas would be handed his letters by the private secretary. The rest of us sat distributed around his giant office and he would throw a glance in your direction and start dictating without waiting to see whether you had realised that you had to start taking it down. Very nerve-wracking for a brand new shorthand typist which I was at that time!

I hope Jem and Hilda treated their staff better!

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on A Head Girl's Difficulties
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2019, 12:15 
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cestina wrote:
I never actually worked out what he did though...
Probably very good at carrying papers and looking important. I've worked with more than a few of those.

That really does sound scary about the dictation, though!


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