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 Post subject: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 01 Feb 2019, 14:45 
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Terms and Conditions - Life in Girls' Boarding Schools - 1939-1979 - Ysenda Maxtone Graham (as recommended by Abbeybufo - thank you)

(Ysenda could be a CS name - good partner for Yseult!)


Many of the women interviewed in the above book commented that they were looking forward to going to boarding school after reading EBD and Enid Blyton but were soon disillusioned. Did any CBB-ers experience this and how did their school compare to the CS and/or the ones mentioned in Terms and Conditions?

A quote from the book:

"...……. how unattractive boarding-school teenagers were in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Their drab uniforms were shaped to make them as plain and unfeminine as possible, and were quite smelly. ……. With their unstraightened teeth (orthodontristry was rare), their plumpness from the starchy diet, greasy, dandruffy hair ……… etc."


A far cry from the trig CS uniform, dainty Peggy and Wanda's flowing locks!


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 01 Feb 2019, 19:58 
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I was very disappointed by that book - it didn't focus on the many sensible, academic boarding-schools that prepared you for either a career or university, even if you didn't necessarily wish to do either. The only good school mentioned was Cheltenham Ladies' College, and that was rather sneered at. She seems to have just wanted to show the ridiculous side of girls' boarding-schools. :banghead: Those schools have not lasted; the good ones are still going strong. Mind you, my sister's school closed down and that was reasonable (she didn't go to the same one I did, which is still going very strong indeed, for reasons of distance).

I don't know whether the Chalet School would still be here today, were it to step out of the pages of fiction....


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 01 Feb 2019, 21:18 
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It's on my Kindle, in a long queue of books to be read!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 01 Feb 2019, 22:10 
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I haven't read it yet! Just saw it was reduced and let people know!!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 09:03 
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I've now started this, but I'm not very impressed so far! The first part just consisted of large chunks copied out of other books on boarding schools, and the rest of it, so far, is entirely negative. Apologies for being a grumpy old woman, but I'm getting very sick of books, TV "documentaries" and newspaper/magazine/internet articles written by people who only want to push their own personal agendas, rather than letting readers/viewers make up their own minds about the facts. However, I'm only 15% of the way through, so maybe it'll get better!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 14:41 
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Alison H wrote:
but I'm getting very sick of books, TV "documentaries" and newspaper/magazine/internet articles written by people who only want to push their own personal agendas, rather than letting readers/viewers make up their own minds about the facts.

Oh you mean like the 'Mary Poppins is Racist' article?! Well duh, you get very dirty going up chimneys.............! I suppose they'll be saying next that all the climbing boys years ago were racist as well - although it's already being said about nursery rhymes (and fairy tales and other Disney films..........!)

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 17:52 
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I get the impression that the author of this book was unhappy at her boarding school, and that she wants to get her own back by giving a very negative view of boarding schools in general, rather than just writing an account of boarding school life to inform people about what it was (1939-1979) like. It's a shame that her schooldays were unhappy, but it's not the most helpful of approaches to any subject!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 19:18 
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I too was disappointed with this, even (or maybe especially) with the bit on Cheltenham Ladies College since it didn't tie in at all with my own experiences there from 1953-59. I felt she was very tongue in cheek about the whole thing.

I preferred the other book that came out not much before this one, name escapes me at the moment. By Jennifer someone?

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 20:04 
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"Too Marvellous For Words" by Julie Welch?

(which I just happen to have read and noted the very CS incident of the midnight feast that made people ill. Also the tricks of removing hairpins with a magnet and putting chalk on a seat lifted from Malory Towers...)


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 20:25 
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I read 'Terms and Conditions' last year and rather enjoyed it, having never been to boarding (or indeed, private) school.
I did finish it thinking I was glad I'd never been to boarding school, which, I'm guessing, was not the aim of the book.....

I also imagine the time I would have been there had I gone (late '80s - early '90s) things would have improved; things seemed a bit grim in the '50s and '60s.


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2019, 20:49 
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Victoria wrote:
"Too Marvellous For Words" by Julie Welch?

(which I just happen to have read and noted the very CS incident of the midnight feast that made people ill. Also the tricks of removing hairpins with a magnet and putting chalk on a seat lifted from Malory Towers...)

That's the one, thanks Victoria. I knew her name began with J!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2019, 09:07 
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I've started so I'll finish, as Magnus Magnusson would have said, but it's getting worse! Pages and pages about how the teachers all had drooping bosoms, facial hair and weight problems, and were horrible to everyone because they were all bitter that they hadn't caught husbands. That's not funny or silly, it's just plain nasty. If a man wrote that in a book, he'd be accused of being a misogynist. I don't think I'd like to meet this woman!

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2019, 10:07 
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I think I'll give it a miss, at least for the moment - thanks for enduring it, though, Alison!

PS I know what you mean about finishing once you've started - and shades of Nicola plodding through 'Persuasion' in The Ready-Made Family!


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2019, 22:20 
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Alison H wrote:
I've started so I'll finish, as Magnus Magnusson would have said, but it's getting worse! Pages and pages about how the teachers all had drooping bosoms, facial hair and weight problems, and were horrible to everyone because they were all bitter that they hadn't caught husbands. That's not funny or silly, it's just plain nasty. If a man wrote that in a book, he'd be accused of being a misogynist. I don't think I'd like to meet this woman!


Funny how no-one ever goes around accusing unmarried male teachers of being "bitter" at not being married.


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2019, 21:08 
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It really was not a good book at all! Designed to show the weirder side of boarding-school life and, as I said above, failed to mention 99.9% of the excellent, academic schools where girls routinely got 8 O levels, 3 A levels and a university place if they wanted one. And yes, we did good things on the playing-fields, too, if you liked that sort of thing!


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2019, 23:31 
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She devoted three pages to teachers' bosoms. Were people really that interested in teachers' bosoms?! And made it sound as if schools had somehow failed their pupils by being evacuated to less than ideal locations during the war, as if the schools were to blame for the risk of bombing. Very strange book :lol: :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2019, 11:57 
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I think this was a case of reading in haste and now reviewing at leisure!

Yes, I was disappointed that there was very little on the academic side of the schools, however, throughout most of the period covered, the majority of girls had marriage as their aim. The women interviewed appeared to come from upper/upper middle class and any job was something to fill in the time before marriage or a way of meeting eligible men. The Bodley Head careers books of the 1950s and 1960s although describing training and different types of work always ended with the girl getting her man just as EBD thought every girl should get her doctor - slight exaggeration there, I know!

Three pages of describing teachers' bosoms is definitely excessive but girls can be cruel and, almost by definition, if the goal was to be married than unmarried teachers were failures and possible figures of fun. Not true or nice but realistic. I remember the excitement when we had a new Classics teacher aged about 25 which brought the average age of staff down considerably. She wore smart clothes and bright colours and we looked forward to her lessons not only because she was an excellent teacher but we wanted to see what she was wearing. The rest of the staff were very drab by comparison.


To finish on a positive note, because of all your comments, I shall be wary of reading too quickly and too superficially in the future!


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2019, 12:53 
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I was at school in the '80s/'90s, and we were stunned when our geography teacher, who was about 40 and quite plain-looking, got married. I feel awful saying that now! And I will finish this book eventually.

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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2019, 13:05 
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I'm sure the writer must have interviewed women who had good experiences of boarding school life, but she decided to concentrate on the negatives as being more interesting/funny/shocking and therefore so much about dowdy and useless staff, dire food, cold dormitories and bizarre rules.
A more factual look at the history of girls' schools is : The Best Type of Girl by Gillian Avery which is interesting and very readable as she is an acclaimed writer herself - also cheap - on Abe, Amazon etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Terms and Conditions - CS and other schools
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2019, 10:35 
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She also seemed to be criticising boarding schools for problems that occur at all schools - being picked on by the in crowd, being dumped by a friend for no apparent reason, horrible food, sarcastic teachers, etc. I've got generally good memories of school, but I could write a book about all those things, and I assume a lot of other people could too! I appreciate that it must be worse at boarding school, because it's 24/7

It's interesting how no-one ever seems to remember being the bully. Are they too ashamed to own up, or do they genuinely think that they didn't do anything wrong, or that it wasn't a big deal?

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