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 Post subject: Best friends
PostPosted: 02 Apr 2017, 20:27 
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I'm never sure how much of what's in the papers is actually true :lol:, but I've just been reading that the prep school Prince George is to attend "discourages" best friends - a story picked up by a lot of the papers - and I couldn't help thinking that EBD would approve :lol:. Best friends within a gang, like Mary-Lou and Verity or Vi and Barbara, are OK, and groups of three are OK in CS-land, but not exclusive best friends. Mary-Lou gives someone a talk on the importance of sharing friends, and we're clearly meant to disapprove of Simone wanting Joey to be her "amie intime". Margot and Emerence are probably the only two BFFs amongst the main characters.

In a lot of other school stories, the girls are paired off into best friends. I can see the argument that it's better to have lots of friends rather than focus on one (especially as my childhood BFF dumped me when we got to the VIth form), but, IME, it's more typical to have pairs of best friends than groups of three or four. You can get all sorts of issues at school with gangs and cliques and people who get completely left out, but I'm not sure that that's always due to having best friends. What happens in Jane, when a gang led by a dominant person turns on one person and bullies them, is a typical school problem, and that's nothing to do with exclusive friendships. But exclusive friendships can get quite intense and it can be very difficult if they break down - as happened with Elizabeth Arnett and Betty Wynne-Davies, although unfortunately we don't actually see that.

Do people think that EBD disapproved of "best friends"?

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 02 Apr 2017, 21:08 
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I think possibly it's part of the reaction against the extreme 'soppiness' of some of the earlier generation of girls' stories. DFB was in the forefront, of course, with her 'Anti-Soppists', but I think EBD was in there too.

Angela Brazil has some quite intense schoolgirl friendships, or sentimental friendships between a girl and a woman, but she also has some instances where her heroine is trapped by circumstances in a 'friendship' with a dominant girl which she doesn't really want but can't see how to get out of. It's easier to avoid this in a wider circle of friends.

And as a teacher, EBD must have seen plenty of examples of real life falling out among friends, and decided she didn't want that in her fictional world.

Re: Prince George, very young children are even less well equipped to negotiate all the pitfalls of 'best friendships' than older ones, and with young children there's always the potential for the parents to get dragged into the squabbles. I think the school is probably sensible to discourage 'best friendships', presumably by regularly mixing up their groups and teams and where they sit for lunch, so they mix with different children.


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 05:31 
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EBD shows very close friendships forming but it's generally in gangs - Joey and co, the triumvirate (s), the crew, the gang etc - but not really special one-on-one friendships. Even these e.g. Barbara and Vi, Josette and Jo - are within the confines of the much larger group.

Where we do see twosomes forming - Simone and Joey, Evelyn and Jane (though this was not explored) - trouble arises because of jealousy.

I think EBD saw 'exclusive' friendships as causing problems i.e. you can be close friends with someone but don't prevent that from letting them make other friends, or you either.

When Joey tells Simone that she can have as many friends as she wants but it won't make a scrap of difference to them and when ML tells Jessica good friends are meant to be shared and you should be happy for them, it sums up EBD's philosophy.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 11:54 
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JayB wrote:
I think possibly it's part of the reaction against the extreme 'soppiness' of some of the earlier generation of girls' stories. DFB was in the forefront, of course, with her 'Anti-Soppists', but I think EBD was in there too.


DFB did, however, have her concept of the 'chum', which seemed to have a specific meaning of BFF/almost 'other half'. And quite a lot of her plots turn on something happening to make the chums fall out, or where the relationship becomes difficult. Not always - Anne and Primula at Springdale never seem to fall out, and their friendship is so acknowledged that the Head even interviews them together about their future plans when they leave school!


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 15:07 
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Reading this thread, the phrase 'inseparables of the most marked type' popped into my head, I think it's a threesome from the English days (I'm sure someone can put their finger on who), but it shows that EBD was very alert to the various modes of friendship that go on amongst schoolgirls. Generally she seems to disapprove of twosomes, but makes an exception for Margot and Emerence - there's a scene I think after M-L's accident where the friendship is explicitly acknowledged and validated.
Sorry, that all sounds a bit high-flown, but I know what I mean!


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 15:14 
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I think it might have been Christine and Catriona, the two minor members of Mary-Lou's Gang, but I might be making that up :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 19:47 
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I also was reading about George's new school discouraging best friends.

I think EBD encouraged all types of friendship but she was not keen on "soppy" friendships.

Jack's admiration of Len had to be "healthy" but she does write about Rosamund giving Katharine Gordon (?) a look of adoration.

EBD states in one of her books that when the girls have evening dancing in the Hall they are not allowed to dance more than twice with any one person. This means that no girls are left out and I do think this is good.

She does have lots of twosomes though. Daphne Russell is practically always stated as being Peggy's best friend although Dickie Christie is allowed into the "outer circle" of their friendship.


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2017, 13:45 
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I think I would say that Peggy and Daphne are consistently friends throughout school, and then welcome Dickie when she turns up. I think she slots into their friendship very nicely.

I suppose one reason EBD preferred friendship groups rather than pairings was that it gave her more people to write about. But within the groups you usually get pairings - for example Mary-Lou and Verity-Anne (in Vi's eyes) and, to the rest of the world, Mary-Lou, Vi, and possibly Hilary are closer to each other than to the rest of the gang. Even Margot and Emerence pal around with other girls even though they are acknowledged to be best friends. While in the Quintette I get the distinct impression that Margia and Elsie are closer to each other than the rest, and the same goes for Corney and Evvy. (Poor llonka is a little left out). This more or less fits with my remembrances of school. Mostly people didn't go around in twos but in small groups.

ETA EJO doesn't seem to have a problem with 'best friends' at all - some of her pairings are so exclusive as to be cliquey. I like Angela Brazil and Evelyn Smith's explorations of friendship - EBD rarely treats the subject with such depth.


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2017, 03:13 
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Audrey25 wrote:
She does have lots of twosomes though. Daphne Russell is practically always stated as being Peggy's best friend although Dickie Christie is allowed into the "outer circle" of their friendship.


But isn't that the point she was making - that even close friendships should have room to expand to include other people? EBD only objects when the friendship gets claustrophobic and jealousy creeps in.

I have to say though that I will never understand Margot's attitude towards her sisters having close friends. She's allowed to have Emergence as a best friend but saying Con and Len are not supposed to have any friends but her is just nuts.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2017, 13:24 
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I am always saying this but from what I can see EBD invents Margot's jealousy for Trials - she's never shown to be jealous before and is actually friendly towards Rosamund in Problem. It's just poor writing - Margot is the bad triplet so she's got to be the jealous one. It would actually have made more sense, and been more interesting, if Con had been the jealous one, although she would never stoop as low as Margot does in Trials.


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2017, 22:48 
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Joyce wrote:
Audrey25 wrote:
She does have lots of twosomes though. Daphne Russell is practically always stated as being Peggy's best friend although Dickie Christie is allowed into the "outer circle" of their friendship.


But isn't that the point she was making - that even close friendships should have room to expand to include other people? EBD only objects when the friendship gets claustrophobic and jealousy creeps in.

I have to say though that I will never understand Margot's attitude towards her sisters having close friends. She's allowed to have Emergence as a best friend but saying Con and Len are not supposed to have any friends but her is just nuts.

Cheers,
Joyce


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2017, 22:50 
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Audrey25 wrote:
Joyce wrote:
Audrey25 wrote:
She does have lots of twosomes though. Daphne Russell is practically always stated as being Peggy's best friend although Dickie Christie is allowed into the "outer circle" of their friendship.


But isn't that the point she was making - that even close friendships should have room to expand to include other people? EBD only objects when the friendship gets claustrophobic and jealousy creeps in.

I have to say though that I will never understand Margot's attitude towards her sisters having close friends. She's allowed to have Emergence as a best friend but saying Con and Len are not supposed to have any friends but her is just nuts.

Cheers,
Joyce


Joyce, that was the exact point I was making as you will see from my original post.


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 03:16 
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I think I was agreeing with you :D

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 05:43 
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Joyce wrote:
I think I was agreeing with you :D


Oh? Misunderstood obviously!! Apologies! ☺


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 11:53 
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I'd be interested in knowing how the school intends to ensure that the kids do not have best friends. Just saying it and expressing disapproval will not work. Mr best friend at school from when I was 12 onwards was someone not only the school disapproved of but my parents did too! She worked only when she wanted and neither the school nor my parents realised until much later that I would just ignore that and work as hard as always. It wasn't until years later that my parents finally acknowledged she was a good friend.

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 13:46 
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I also wondered that Lesley. I suppose with very young children it is much easier to manipulate them - when you physically separate them it is harder for them to remain friends. Seems a bit harsh though!

And at what age do you decide it is acceptable for them to have 'best friends'?


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2017, 09:21 
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Best friends can spell trouble -- look at Margot and Emerence, Elizabeth and Betty, Elma/Edna (the one with the dodgy boyfriend in Oberland) and Pamela. They egg each other on or segregate from the others, and that's dangerous.

There are instances of coupled friends who do fine though, like Jesanne and Lois, Rikki Fry and Susan, and a few couples who are doing just fine when they introduce a third.

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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 10 Apr 2017, 13:31 
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Having just spent the weekend with a group of Brownies that included a threesome of 'frenemies' plus assorted hangers on I think you can have just as much trouble with groups to be honest...


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 12 Apr 2017, 18:58 
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The school I went to only allowed friendships between girls who were both in your year and in your house. This did not exactly produce a huge pool of potential friends! I heard yesterday that one of my year had died very suddenly - while I am, of course, deeply sorry to hear this, I can't actually feel sad as really, I barely knew her - she was in a different house, and as her surname started early in the alphabet, she was in a different class (although the same year).


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 Post subject: Re: Best friends
PostPosted: 12 Apr 2017, 20:22 
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Mrs Redboots wrote:
The school I went to only allowed friendships between girls who were both in your year and in your house. This did not exactly produce a huge pool of potential friends! I heard yesterday that one of my year had died very suddenly - while I am, of course, deeply sorry to hear this, I can't actually feel sad as really, I barely knew her - she was in a different house, and as her surname started early in the alphabet, she was in a different class (although the same year).


My school tried that (same class only - no houses there). It was a great tool for exclusion. "Oh, we're not allowed to be friends with you."


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