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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 11:05 
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I have never really understood how Sybil's accident with the kettle could be equated to her vanity. It was a bit of a leap really. Yes, she was disobedient. But there was no deliberate nastiness in her action, she did her best (albeit misguidedly) to try and save Josette from being burned, and was genuinely upset and sorry afterwards.

I had read, often, about this incident before actually reading Gay from China, and I was a bit 'is that it? What all the fuss was about'? when I finally got my hands on the book. I expected something much more deliberate and wilful.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 11:53 
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Quote:
I had read, often, about this incident before actually reading Gay from China, and I was a bit 'is that it? What all the fuss was about'? when I finally got my hands on the book.

It was just a plot device, wasn't it; there needed to be some reason why they couldn't appeal to Madge when things started to go wrong with Miss Bubb. It was really secondary to the main storyline.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 May 2017, 13:00 
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JayB wrote:
It was just a plot device, wasn't it; there needed to be some reason why they couldn't appeal to Madge when things started to go wrong with Miss Bubb. It was really secondary to the main storyline.
Absolutely - and one with strong overtones of Mrs Vaizey's influence, notably the scene towards the end of The Love Affairs of Pixie when little Jack is left on his own for a few minutes, disobediently gets out of bed, and sets fire to himself in the process. I suspect that this is also behind the storyline of Rolf's death - and that death is the more horrific for not being spelt out, IMO.

Judging from the La Rochelle books, EMBD did have a considerable interest in child psychology, so I suppose some of the getting tied up in knots resulted from the clash between this and the ideas on the subject that were around in her own childhood.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 17:59 
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Was it reasonable of the Lamberts to ask that Gay should travel home to see her brother-in-law/cousin during the war when trains were crowded or chaotic? Wouldn't there be many fathers/brothers about to go overseas? Was Miss Bubb being unreasonable to refuse?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 18:08 
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It would have spoilt the storyline :lol: but, as Tommy presumably had a few days' embarkation leave, surely it would have been more appropriate for him and Ruth and the children to come down to Armishire overnight.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 18:33 
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as Tommy presumably had a few days' embarkation leave, surely it would have been more appropriate for him and Ruth and the children to come down to Armishire overnight.

Four people, two of whom were small children, would have been more difficult on crowded trains than Gay travelling on her own. And Ruth was pregnant; I don't suppose she felt like doing it. She'd have been about six months, wouldn't she? And Tommy may have had other things he needed to do, other people to see. Solicitor and bank manager to make sure his affairs were in order, perhaps.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 May 2017, 21:38 
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JayB wrote:
Quote:
as Tommy presumably had a few days' embarkation leave, surely it would have been more appropriate for him and Ruth and the children to come down to Armishire overnight.

Four people, two of whom were small children, would have been more difficult on crowded trains than Gay travelling on her own. And Ruth was pregnant; I don't suppose she felt like doing it. She'd have been about six months, wouldn't she? And Tommy may have had other things he needed to do, other people to see. Solicitor and bank manager to make sure his affairs were in order, perhaps.


I agree that it was easier for Gay to deal with crowded trains and awkward travelling conditions than it would have been for Tommy, Ruth and the children to come to Armishire for what probably might have been only a day, two at most. If I remember rightly, too, there was more urgency about her seeing Tommy before he left than there would have been if it was simply an embarkation leave for him, because there was a strong chance he might see their parents while he was away and wanted to be able to give them the latest news of Gay when he did so. It was unfortunate that Miss Bubb didn't see the importance of that fact, even though Gay explained it to her.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 04:59 
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Vintagejazz wrote:
I have never really understood how Sybil's accident with the kettle could be equated to her vanity. It was a bit of a leap really. Yes, she was disobedient. But there was no deliberate nastiness in her action, she did her best (albeit misguidedly) to try and save Josette from being burned, and was genuinely upset and sorry afterwards.


It requires a massive leap in logic - Sybil's pride and vanity which was caused by people telling her how pretty she is, led her to think she knew best when Josette was hurt instead of going for help. Taken even further, her pride led to her thinking it was OK taking the kettle of boiled water from the stove.

But I still ask why on earth NOONE was close enough to hear a screaming child. In other words, if Sybil had gone for help exactly how far would she have had to go to find it?

One more thing that struck me last night when I was flipping through Gay is that Jacynth says she has no photo of Auntie because they couldn't afford it.

When did having personal cameras become commonplace? Throughout the series, some of the girls are given cameras and they take photos and cameras with them on outings, so presumably they were fairly portable items and cheap enough to buy for children to use.

I guess then, as now, you can arrange for official photos to be taken for special occasions like weddings, but that sentence makes it sound as if even taking a photo with a normal personal camera is something you have to pay for.

Cheers,
Joyce

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Last edited by Joyce on 19 May 2017, 09:47, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 05:09 
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Not to mention that they'd have to find an inn to stay at near the school as well, and deal with transportation with children too small to walk significant distances.

Plus, if Gay goes to them, during the time when she's travelling Tommy can spend more quality time with his wife and children, rather than wrangling two small kids on an extended trip.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 07:59 
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Joyce wrote:
One more thing that struck me last night when I was flipping through Gay is that Jacynth says she has no photo of Auntie and because they couldn't afford it.


I think that's EBD being melodramatic, like the bit about Auntie knitting away into the night. I've got old photos of my family which were taken by photographers - some were on special occasions such as weddings, and others were taken just so that they'd have a photo of the baby/the children/the family. I recently saw loads of these sorts of photos at a local historical exhibition. These were people who certainly did not send their children to private boarding schools, or have even a "tiny income" (EBD's words) on top of what they earned. I know Auntie was saving, but I can't believe she couldn't have spared the money for a photo of herself and Jacynth if she'd wanted one. Or that she didn't know anyone who owned their own camera and would have taken one as a favour.

They probably just never thought of it - although you'd think Jacynth might have wanted a photo to take to school with her. But I think the "couldn't afford it" line is a bit "bring out the violins". Sorry, but it is!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 09:52 
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Alison H wrote:
They probably just never thought of it - although you'd think Jacynth might have wanted a photo to take to school with her. But I think the "couldn't afford it" line is a bit "bring out the violins". Sorry, but it is!


The bit about the 'daily' woman is when I lose sympathy. I realise Auntie was ill so housekeeping and cleaning might have been beyond her, but what about Jacynth doing it?

If you can afford a daily help, you are NOT poor. It just sounds like one of those things that people of a certain class just have to have regardless of income.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 10:11 
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Joyce wrote:





When did having personal cameras become commonplace? Throughout the series, some of the girls are given cameras and they take photos and cameras with them on outings, so presumably they were fairly portable items and cheap enough to buy for children to use.


Joyce

It certainly wasn't commonplace when I was at boarding school in the 1950s. Some of us did have cameras but we were the lucky ones and those who had used to get extra copies of photos (black and white of course) developed and printed to share with others.

I still have an album covering all my school years and the photos come from many different people. And it is supplemented by a photo of my House every year, and team photos.

I don't think that is true at all, Joyce, about the daily woman. People did have help, even when they were very poor. And Auntie will have been determined that Jacynth should concentrate on school rather than housework.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 10:14 
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Do we ever hear anything more about Gay's parents? I can't remember.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 10:14 
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I always feel as if I'm going to be tarred and feathered for saying anything like that, Joyce, so I'm very glad that someone else feels the same :lol:. Auntie and Jacynth are both lovely people, but I feel as if all that stuff about knitting till all hours and not being able to afford a photo is meant to make us feel as if they're only one step up from a Dickensian workhouse. They employ a "daily woman", Jacynth goes to a private school, and Auntie, although she does her knitting, has investment income and does not have a job. It's nothing like as bad as Mrs Gay bleating about how the Gays were "very poor people" because they could only afford to send Tom to the British branch of the CS, not the Swiss branch, or Anne Chester being so poverty-stricken that she has to sell her furs, but even so. I appreciate that everything's relative, but it is quite annoying when EBD makes out that characters like this are "poor", especially when she's also created characters like Zita and Rufus's owners, who were finding it difficult even to afford food.

Were Gay's parents dead, or were they still in China? They don't seem to feature at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 11:22 
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Thanks for explaining about the photos and cameras - I guess there's so much we take for granted these days.

Just yesterday I was chatting to a friend about how when she attended a wedding only 10 years ago and the official photographer they hired messed up and the poor bride was forced to rely on guests giving her photos they had taken just to have a record of the day. Unfortunately many people did not bring a camera with them.

These days, of course, most people would be whipping out phones and taking multiple selfies :D

cestina wrote:
I don't think that is true at all, Joyce, about the daily woman. People did have help, even when they were very poor.


Sorry, but still no sympathy. I guess EBD overdid it telling us how very poor Auntie was that when the sentence about the daily help appeared I thought "oh c'mon!" :D I suppose that once again it is the difference between normal poor and CS poor, as Alison says.

Alison H wrote:
I always feel as if I'm going to be tarred and feathered for saying anything like that, Joyce, so I'm very glad that someone else feels the same :lol:.


I have no tact :D But I am sorry if anyone was offended. And I do realise EBD wrote fiction and it's meant to be an escape from reality and we shouldn't take her views too seriously.

Quote:
Were Gay's parents dead, or were they still in China? They don't seem to feature at all.


They were in China. Tommy had a chance of meeting up with them which was one reason he wanted to see Gay so he could tell his parents how she was. And she receives letters from there from them.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 11:30 
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Sorry - I didn't mean that anyone was offended, just that I was glad that someone agreed with me! I meant that Auntie is so popular that I always feel guilty for saying anything that isn't 100% sympathetic towards her :lol: :lol:.

On a much more sympathetic note, it's so kind of Ruth Lambert to visit a complete stranger in hospital, and to think of taking the photo - presumably realising that Auntie wasn't going to make it and that it would mean a lot to Jacynth to have that memento of her. And then of Tommy and Ruth to (effectively) adopt her.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 12:03 
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cestina wrote:
Joyce wrote:


I don't think that is true at all, Joyce, about the daily woman. People did have help, even when they were very poor. And Auntie will have been determined that Jacynth should concentrate on school rather than housework.


But the point is, she had that choice. A truly poor person wouldn't.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 13:26 
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I see the Jacynth and her aunt (and the Gays) as being more a case of reduced circumstances than being actually poor. They were born into a class where they could expect things like a private income, live in help, good boarding schools, and girls not having to go out and work. And they don't have that.

At the same time, they still own a home, can afford some hired help, can scrimp to cover the schooling, and have some private income. It's not like Jacynth has to leave school at 15 to get a job to help pay the rent, or Auntie dies because they can't afford medical treatment.

It's not clear exactly what Gay's family situation is. There is no mention of a father at all. Her mother is definitely in China, along with an Uncle Tom Scudamore. Tommy is described as a brother, step-brother and Uncle Tom's nephew. Ruth as a cousin, sister-in-law, and Mrs Lambert's niece.

So the best I can come up with is that Tommy is Mrs Lambert's step-son from her husband's first marriage, and is Uncle Tom's nephew through a connection on that side of the family. The Lamberts move out with or without Gay's father, who dies at some point. Ruth is Mrs Lambert's niece on her side, and also moved out with the family. That would also mean that Tommy and Ruth are not related by blood.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 18:05 
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Does anyone know if EBD meant to write a book about Gay's experiences in China before she went to the CS? Gay and Tommy/Ruth being doubly related also makes me think there was a back story or why have the relationship so complicated unless it was because EBD wanted Gay to be blood related to both Tommy and Ruth.

I liked the way that the Lamberts stayed close to Jacynth and that it just wasn't a "one-book" relationship.

It is a bit hard to take in that the lovely Ruth and her husband are the parents of Anne and Jack Lambert. Anne is rather insipid and Jack one of my least favourite characters. However, I don't suppose exceptional parents and exceptional children necessarily go together and Jack at any rate might have changed.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 May 2017, 22:01 
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Yes she did mean to write Gay's backstory - in fact she got at least as far as a list of chapter headings if not more, there was an article in the New Chalet Club newsletter about it some years ago, can't remember when, perhaps someone else who keeps their magazines in an orderly fashion (not me, in spite of being a librarian!) can find it and tell us more.


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