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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Jun 2017, 12:57 
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In Michelle Magorian's A Spoonful of Jam the working class family go to Kent to work in the hop fields as a yearly event, staying in primitive sounding huts or cabins. It's considered the family 'holiday' and includes grandma, children etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Jun 2017, 13:37 
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Rose-Next-Door (100 on 2nd August DV) used to go hop picking with friends from the East End. We have only chatted briefly about it but I will do some more digging when I am back home at the end of July for her birthday.

From what I remember her saying a very good time was had by all....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Jun 2017, 13:41 
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Conditions were poor in the middle decades of the 19th century, when the railways first enabled the mass migration of workers to the hopfields. (Special trains used to run from London Bridge at the start of the hopping season.) No proper water supply or sanitary arrangements, and outbreaks of cholera. Probably no worse than the normal living conditions of many of the families back home, though.

Conditions gradually improved, until by the 20th century conditions were probably equivalent to a camping or caravan holiday. Churches operated missions in the hopfields, too.

My mother went hop picking during the war in a family group. She earned enough in two weeks to buy herself new shoes and a new winter coat. She says the farmer gave them big sacks which they filled with clean straw to make beds.

Some of the regular pickers used to furnish their huts for the month with things brought from home, though. Rolled up mattresses and everything but the kitchen sink loaded onto the baby's pram.

People I know who grew up in hop growing areas say the combination of the locals, the Londoners and the Gypsies meant things could get quite lively at times.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 Jul 2017, 15:40 
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My Dad, born October 1939, remembers going hop picking when he was a boy. He is from West London (Hammersmith). Probably late 1940's - early 1950's.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 22:34 
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Bumping this to talk about the mysterious Jean Mackenzie. I know some people think she's Con Stewart but I don't - she's in Singapore and I think EBD couldn't have gotten her name so wrong at that point in the series.

So she's from Edinburgh, went to school in France, her mother is named Mrs Robertson (she also knows Joey). Jean has a small son, Alan, and her husband is Ken Mackenzie. Someone said she may have been from Taverton, though that seems odd if her parents live in Edinburgh. Likewise, no India trip is mentioned, just a long trip to America with her parents.

She says that Jo "you were very good to me and Alan when we stayed with you," - could she have been an evacuee? Could she have been Con's sister-in-law by marriage?

I know we will never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 23:45 
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Kenneth Mackenzie is one of the names given to Mollie Maynard's husband. There's also Kathie Robertson who I think comes from Edinburgh. Yet another coincidence of names!

As you say, we'll never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 00:43 
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Mia wrote:
and I think EBD couldn't have gotten her name so wrong at that point in the series.


Having received my GGBP copy recently, I discovered that Biddy o'Ryan is called Biddy O'Hara in this book - rather a major error considering how many books Biddy has appeared in up to this point in the series.

I also noticed a reference to Friedel von Helfen instead of Friedel von Gluck. So EBD had a few issues with characters' names in Highland Twins.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 00:53 
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I agree that she can't be a mistake for Con Mackenzie - not only the points you made Mia, but Jean's husband is in the RAF, which I'm sure we'd be told if Con's husband were. I've always wondered if Jean were an elder sister of Kathie 'Mops' Robertson, and not just the coincidence that ivohenry suggests .


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 07:44 
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IIRC, there's a Friedel von Helfen in The First Violin, a book which also features a Eugen Courvoisier whose real surname is von Rothenfels. Maybe EBD had been re-reading it just before she wrote this :lol: .

The Jean Mackenzie thing is very odd. EBD obviously needed Joey to have a contact in the Highlands, but there are all sorts of ways she could have explained that - an old friend from Taverton whose family had moved there because of work or marriage, or a friend or relative of one of the CS people, or someone who'd come to Guernsey on holiday, or maybe someone connected with the San - a former nurse or patient or patient's relative. It would only have taken a few words to explain the link!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 10:55 
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Wonder if there was a chapter - or few pages - about Jean, which got cut out because the book was too long, and not replaced by a short paragraph. There's a gap between CS goes to it and this book - wonder if she ever wrote or started to write something in between. Could be Jean's backstory was clear in EBD's mind even though we were never told. Maybe an evacuee as Mia suggests? Or maybe needing somewhere to stay as husband in RAF, maybe wanted to be nearer wherever he was stationed than Edinburgh?

She's unlikely to be Con's sister-in-law unless there were 2 brothers both called Kenneth - possibly there were cousins with same name though.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 21:47 
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Was Con Stewart Scottish?

I agree about the missing backstory! Like the story of Queechy.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2018, 21:54 
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I've just checked this in the Encyclopaedia, because I thought she was Scottish, but then wondered if my brain was making some strange Jacobite link because she was nicknamed Charlie due to being C E Stewart :lol: . Apparently, in Jo Returns, she goes home to Herefordshire to recuperate from laryngitis, but is later described as being Scottish. In Eustacia,, it says that she had a Highland accent.

EBD sometimes seems to get rather confused about whether Herefordshire's in England or Wales, so maybe she sometimes thought it was in Scotland as well!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Oct 2018, 07:41 
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Alison H wrote:

EBD sometimes seems to get rather confused about whether Herefordshire's in England or Wales, so maybe she sometimes thought it was in Scotland as well!


:lol: :roll: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Dec 2019, 15:25 
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I have just read a few chapters of this and think it's very good. CS discussion often favours the school scenes (it's rituals and repetition etc), and there's good reason for that, but let's not overlook the strong writing in some of the opening chapters, the sequences before the new term starts. Just as the Lintons' arrival at the San was a very atmospheric opening, so this has the excellent sequence of Shiena's trepidation and disorientation at Newcastle Train station. Then, two chapters later, there's perhaps the comedy highlight of the series to date: Robin and Daisy's response to Shiena calling Jo a matron and mentioning her dignity. I know that many people feel EBD is hitting her stride as a writer at this point, and I agree. Ten years earlier I don't think she'd have pulled off character comedy like that - it might not even have occurred to her to try. Rob, as she's now referred to, is a great character now that everyone's stopped treating her like she's three.

From our perspective, the values of CS seem very traditional, but EBD clearly thought they were progressive in some ways and this book seems designed to highlight that. Shierna is even less worldly than the average Chalet girl and her conversation about parenting styles with Jo surprised me. Jo wants to be "a chum" to her children, an idea about parenting which I had assumed (wrongly, obviously) to date from later.

Looking forward to catching up with this thread when I've read some more.

Regards

Miles


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Dec 2019, 17:03 
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I'll be jolly surprised if you don't continue to enjoy it, Miles. I think it's one of the favourites, and I remember how much I loved it as a young reader, too - so different from most other school stories, one way and another.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Dec 2019, 18:28 
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It's one of my favourites too. Unlike the Lintons which I find quite hard going. I find Joyce unbearable and Gillian a bit too wet.

But Flora and Fiona really appeal to me and there are some really strong story lines.....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Dec 2019, 22:08 
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I enjoyed this so much that I'll get my niggles out of the way first. GOES TO IT had seemed to establish Beth, Daisy and Gwensi as a new central trio, but it's not in evidence here. Gwensi is barely in it. So, I was sad about that. On the other hand, in place of that we get Daisy and Rob as a fun duo, mature by the standards of the schoolgirls, but notably younger and gigglier than the adults with which they spend so much time. I don't miss "The Robin" at all - she was getting tedious - but will miss "Rob" when she leaves. And, as many have said, the way the dialogue of the Scottish characters is written gets annoying very quick.

Overall, a great adventure story and all the holes you can pick in the narrative - why not just put the chart in a bank vault? etc - are quite in line with the values of that genre. I liked the 'Second Sight' plotline. It's a bit out of the norm for the books, but EBD wouldn't be the first - or last - to introduce characters from the Celtic fringes in order to allow a series to stretch beyond the realism by which its English characters are bound. We can call it stereotyping if we like, but here's plenty of Celtic musicians trading on their reputation for mysteriousness and spirituality.

I had read somewhere - this board, probably - that a character was expelled for "treason during wartime" but had assumed at the time that this would be a character brought in expressly for that purpose, not a regular of several volumes' standing! Betty's descent from troublesome middle to actual bully was well-handled, I thought, and in most CS books that's as far as things would have gone - but this one plays be different generic rules and so she had further to fall.

Two volumes in, the Armisham books stand up well, I think. For many here, the school's true home will always be in the Alps (you know, where they have actual chalets) but, since the war continues to be an object of fascination in Britain, GOES TO IT and HIGHLAND TWINS might seem more mainstream now. I can see it as a two-part Christmas treat on BBC1 (like Worzel Gummidge and all the other childrens' lit which gets wheeled out at this time): lots of filming in the English countryside with spooky effects for the Second Sight sequences.

Miles


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Jan 2020, 19:28 
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I’m going to have to read it now. Anyone know where I can find a copy?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 15 Jan 2020, 00:00 
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I'd start with Amazon or eBay, and see if you can strike lucky with a reasonably-priced copy there.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 15 Jan 2020, 00:27 
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It looks as though both Sally and Betula of Topsy Turvy Books had copies in their last catalogue. You could ask Caroline OSullivan of this board and Encore Books. Or you could try Lou Harrison at TP Books, or Shirley Neilson of Priorsford Books. And no - I have no vested interest in any of them, but they're all reputable dealers, who shouldn't overcharge you.

If you have a choice, go for a hardback or the GGBP edition - the Armada is missing huge chunks.

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