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 Post subject: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 14 Jul 2019, 21:17 
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I have been reading Triplets again - maybe not as good a read as you would expect it to be - and have come to the famous bookends incident again.

I know I am looking at it from a 2019 viewpoint and not a1963 or whenever the book was written viewpoint, but it really is appalling. Margot should have been out of that school for good without her feet even touching the ground. She should have been expelled for this incident alone, but if there was ever any doubt there was also her behaviour in Theodora.

As for Miss Annersley, for the way that she let Margot off I am inclined to think she should have got the boot as well. I used to think she humoured Jo a bit but now I am inclined to think it could have been because she was the sister of Miss Annersley's boss. That was bound to have coloured Jo's relationships with the CS staff - the newer mistresses at any event. Just as the wives of the doctors must have been aware Jo was the wife of their husbands' boss.

I also feel so sorry for Betty being made the scapegoat for this.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 14 Jul 2019, 22:41 
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I think EBD had become far too focused on the Maynards in general, and Margot in particular, by this point. Betty's feelings - physical and mental! - are completely ignored. The same happened in Theodora: it was all about Margot, and never mind how Ted must have felt about having her past, which she was supposed to be putting behind her, dragged up in front of 5 other girls, and Margot trying to ruin her friendships with Len and Ros. To a lesser extent it also happened with Jack Lambert, EBD's new favourite - it's ridiculous how poor Jane is told off and even Kathie Ferrars accepted some of the blame, when Jack was completely in the wrong.

Margot got let off half-killing someone because she's got toothache and was upset! Poor Hilda Jukes got far more grief for causing Nina a slight injury in an incident which was completely accidental and happened during a game organised by a teacher. Miss Annersley said that she'd give her another chance, but this came after the Ted episode for which she was also let off scot-free.

Alicia's reaction wasn't very credible - she led everyone to believe that Betty had slipped on an over-polished floor, because it "wasn't her business" to tell people that Margot had half-killed her best friend. And Betty was apparently happy to admit that she was to blame because she asked Margot to stop yelling - and Miss Annersley gave her a lecture on tactlessness!

We can't see what Miss Annersley's motives were, but it's not reasonable to think that she sympathised, even if not consciously, with a girl she'd known from birth onwards and whose parents were family friends. And she may well have been reluctant to expel her because it would have been so awkward. She was the head, but she was still Madge's employee.

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 00:19 
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But was Madge Hilda's employer? I'm not so sure. Aren't we told at some point that the school is run as a limited company? If that's the case, then the company is the employer, and every person working in it, including any directors (such as Madge, presumably), is an employee.

Having said which, I agree that the cover-up is appalling, and I'm particularly shocked at Alicia colluding with it - quite voluntarily, what's more.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 04:39 
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Noreen wrote:
But was Madge Hilda's employer? I'm not so sure. Aren't we told at some point that the school is run as a limited company? If that's the case, then the company is the employer, and every person working in it, including any directors (such as Madge, presumably), is an employee.

Having said which, I agree that the cover-up is appalling, and I'm particularly shocked at Alicia colluding with it - quite voluntarily, what's more.


Considering the importance the books place on telling the truth, there seem to be lots of lies told!


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 07:18 
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I assume Madge and Jem kept a controlling holding - probably the 75% which would have meant that they could make all the decisions, as well as presumably being the directors. The others would only have had minority shareholdings. Madge would still have been the boss. She still got consulted even on thinsg that seem quite minor, like giving Mary-Lou an extra prize, and it would have been very awkward for Hilda to have tried to expel Margot.

Having said which, only two people ever got expelled, and Betty was part of a wartime spy story so that was a storyline on its own. But this is a particularly bad incident, and it's Margot's second major offence.

I don't think Margot even apologises to Betty, does she? Deira apologises to Grizel, and I think Emerence apologises to Mary-Lou over the tobogganing accident, but Margot is only interested in herself.

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 14:09 
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I suspect that Madge has enough influence on the board that if she wanted someone gone, she'd be able to bring it about.

However, I think the bookend incident is not so much about Madge as it is about Miss Annersley and Joey and her family. She's known them for decades, and is an honorary aunt to the family. When she looks at Margot, she's not objectively looking at her behaviour as a Headmistress - she's thinking about how she was spoiled as a delicate child so it's not really her fault, and how she's really *trying* to control her devil, and how devastated Joey would be to have Margot publicly disgraced or expelled from the school that means so much to her, and how horribly uncomfortable it would be to have Joey next door after expelling her child, and how much it would hurt Margot to be separated from her triplets. She's Auntie Hilda and Joey's close friend here, not Headmistress Annersley. The same motivation is there when Margot is made Games Prefect. She's a terrible choice for the position - impulsive, tactless, not good with the juniors, inclined to nag - and it's not really fair to Margot to be pushed into a job she's likely to fail at, but it's important to give her a position equal to her triplets for family reasons.

Betty's not the most tactful person, but bluntly telling a couple of sixth formers (one of whom is a prefect) having shouting match to shut up is pretty reasonable.

I'm not sure they'd have expelled another girl - the only other expulsions are Thekla, who wasn't sorry for what she did, and Betty, who was a traitor and couldn't be kept any longer. But there would likely have been more than a stern lecture. The closest case is Deira, and that was much more understandable - Deira's offense was throwing a snowball during a snowball fight without inspecting it first, not hurling stuff in the library during a school day. If Betty had been killed or seriously injured, they'd have had to expel her, but sending Margot home for the rest of the semester would have been a stiff punishment. Plus, of course, *not* making her a prefect!

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 19:47 
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Compare and contrast with how the prefects and Con are treated in Two Sams over the skiing incident. The whole thing was an accident, but Con gets hauled over the coals and told to report herself to her mum, which means she gets it in the neck from Miss Annersley AND Joey.

I wonder if it was a result of the series going into decline at that point. Triplets is a weak book generally. I also wonder if Margot would have got off as lightly in the early years, considering that Thekla got expelled for potentially endangering Mrs Linton's life (amongst other things). Betty was a special case because apart from the sheer horror of what she did, if she'd stayed at the school, her life would have been hell. The other girls would never have forgiven her. Even Florence dropped her like a hot potato.

ETA: and yes, Miss Annersley being BFF with Joey does make it look pretty bad. Other girls do horrible things, they get punished, but a Maynard gets to behave as badly as she wants and gets a pass. I wonder how Antonia Forest would have handled it.

Alicia probably felt she had to collude with it because of Len being the Head Girl, I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 20:22 
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Mind you, we've been here before with EMBD when it comes to thinking (and saying) the unexpected about a character's bad behaviour - look how Bride gets made to feel bad for being shocked at Diana Skelton's moving on from the merely thuggish (wrecking Bride's study) to the actually criminal (purloining and attempting to sell two of her mother's rings to pay her gambling debts)... What was she supposed to say? "Oh, poor Diana - she was doing the best she could"?


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 20:57 
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Lotte wrote:
.
I wonder how Antonia Forest would have handled it.


Miss Keith and Tim are one of fairly few examples in school stories where a pupil is related to a teacher. In the CS books, Peggy Burnett's there for a little while whilst Mary's teaching, but we never see them together, and Simone and Renee are Mlle's cousins but it's not really an issue because they don't get into any serious trouble. Doris Hill is Miss Leslie's niece, but she doesn't go there until years after Miss Leslie's left. Presumably at least some of the staff must have had nieces or cousins of school age, but they don't come to the CS ... maybe their parents all felt it'd put both parties in a difficult position.

It can be very awkward all round when a pupil is a relative or family friend of a teacher. A girl in my class was the daughter of our French teacher's best friend: she was quite embarrassed about it and would rather no-one had known, but the teacher kept bringing it up, which made everyone felt awkward! And it's intensified with the Maynards because Joey isn't just friendly with the staff, she's always popping in and getting involved in school affairs. Margot is let off a punishment in New Mistress because it's her birthday party, and that situation just wouldn't have arisen with anyone else. She'd probably have been a lot better off at a different school.

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 20:58 
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Yeah I get Christians aren't supposed to be judgemental, but most people would have reacted to Diana's behaviour in the same way. It was rotten what she did.

I know we've been over this a lot but the morals in the CS books always confuse me, and they did when I was a kid. Pass notes? Listen to Joey telling you what a disgusting human being you are. Talk Regency slang? Get punished with a boring walk and minimal food. Make an involuntary noise? Be made to write a letter of apology, get conduct marks AND spend the evening hemming dusters. Throw a bookend at another girl and knock her out? Get told off by Miss Annersley and that's it.

Margot should have stayed in England. Then we'd have got more of the Glendower House branch.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 22:58 
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I am wondering if it might not have been a bad idea for all of the triplets to have gone to the English Branch.

They could not possibly have been treated fairly at the Swiss Branch. Their aunt was the school's founder and still a powerful person. Her sister - their mother - was in and out of the school the whole time. Best friends with the Head, close friends with all the senior staff.

There was also Jack's position. As head of the San he was the most powerful person on the Platz. If he had chosen, he could have made life difficult for Miss Annersley.

The Platz itself was quite claustrophobic. The other girls got a bit of breathing space in the hols and the chance to see outside friends, but the triplets are stuck there the whole time.

It might have been different if Joey wanted them at home and just to attend the school on a daily basis but they were boarders. All really not too healthy.

One little thing I noticed was that in the end Margot did not report her toothache as Matey was away and the one other matron she liked was off I'll. So, she was going to go and see Miss Annersley. Imagine the huge fuss if one of the ordinary pupils did that?


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2019, 23:08 
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Noreen wrote:
But was Madge Hilda's employer? I'm not so sure. Aren't we told at some point that the school is run as a limited company? If that's the case, then the company is the employer, and every person working in it, including any directors (such as Madge, presumably), is an employee.

Having said which, I agree that the cover-up is appalling, and I'm particularly shocked at Alicia colluding with it - quite voluntarily, what's more.


Sorry for writing again but just to answer, I think Madge was Hilda's boss.

Even although the school is run as a limited company she still seems to have had "the power".

In the Swiss book when the uniforms are to change, Madge seems to decide that this is going to happen without consulting anyone else. She alone also puts forward all the designs from which the uniform is chosen.

Curiously there is never a hint that Joey could have had anything to do with the running of the school.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2019, 00:08 
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I actually think Madge would have been reasonable if it came to the need to suitably discipline Margot. She might be sad, but not vindictive. Joey does get preferential treatment as a student, but it mostly works okay. Madge does try to be fair, and Joey is expected to behave, but her emotional volatility does get coddled, and she gets insider knowledge. The school is smaller then, and everyone acknowledges that Madame's sister is a special case. Joey also never attempts blackmail or assault.

I do think it's really unfair to expect perfect emotional control from schoolgirls. The other case is when Verity refuses to sing German. A couple of her (ten year old) classmates gasp in shock, and end up with a worse punishment than Verity, as the latter's punishment is rescinded when she relents.

Con's case with the skiing is really unfair, because it was the process that was the problem. They don't need to make the prefects cry after a moment of inattention, or expect girls to perfectly asses their own skiing ability, or psychically divine the rules - they need a clear system for telling new girls the rules for skiing, and a consistent system for testing. The do this for swimming, after all!

I agree that Margot (and probably Len) would have been better off at a different school, one where they didn't enter school at age 6 publicly identified as the lazy one and the responsible one. Margot would get consistent discipline, and an age appropriate form and expectations and promotion. Len would get normal responsibility for a girl her age, and not be constantly compared to her mother. Their mother wouldn't have a direct phone line to the Head's office, wouldn't be in the school on social visits on a weekly basis, wouldn't have inside information on their classmates, and communications about misbehaviour would go through normal channels.

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2019, 11:00 
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Maybe Margot would have better accepted whatever disciplining she did get at a different school, as well. Being told off by "Auntie Hilda", however much it was in her capacity as headmistress, can't have been the same to her as being told off by Miss Annersley would have been to Emerence or Francie or any of the other "naughty girls" in the class. It isn't an issue with the others because they never do anything that bad. Sybil and Ailie are both involved in group pranks when they're juniors, but nothing in Margot's league.

A therapist could have spent days listening to Margot. At the age of three, she was told that God had made her life hard by giving her a bad temper. Then she was apparently very ill, and spoilt because of it, although we don’t see it. Then she was sent away with Madge and Jem – and, even if it’s with close relatives and you’re told it’s for health reasons, being sent away whilst your siblings stay at home must feel like some sort of rejection. They then upped sticks and moved to another country, and she was put in a form with girls years older than her. And all that was on top of being one of “the Maynard Triplets” and the general weirdness of Joey’s close involvement with the school.

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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2019, 19:22 
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jennifer wrote:
I actually think Madge would have been reasonable if it came to the need to suitably discipline Margot. She might be sad, but not vindictive. Joey does get preferential treatment as a student, but it mostly works okay. Madge does try to be fair, and Joey is expected to behave, but her emotional volatility does get coddled, and she gets insider knowledge. The school is smaller then, and everyone acknowledges that Madame's sister is a special case. Joey also never attempts blackmail or assault.

I do think it's really unfair to expect perfect emotional control from schoolgirls. The other case is when Verity refuses to sing German. A couple of her (ten year old) classmates gasp in shock, and end up with a worse punishment than Verity, as the latter's punishment is rescinded when she relents.

Con's case with the skiing is really unfair, because it was the process that was the problem. They don't need to make the prefects cry after a moment of inattention, or expect girls to perfectly asses their own skiing ability, or psychically divine the rules - they need a clear system for telling new girls the rules for skiing, and a consistent system for testing. The do this for swimming, after all!

I agree that Margot (and probably Len) would have been better off at a different school, one where they didn't enter school at age 6 publicly identified as the lazy one and the responsible one. Margot would get consistent discipline, and an age appropriate form and expectations and promotion. Len would get normal responsibility for a girl her age, and not be constantly compared to her mother. Their mother wouldn't have a direct phone line to the Head's office, wouldn't be in the school on social visits on a weekly basis, wouldn't have inside information on their classmates, and communications about misbehaviour would go through normal channels.

i definitely think so too. Madge is willing to do what's right for the school, and in the Tyrol days she does tell Joey off and punish her when she behaves badly (e.g. the hair flouring incident).

A big difference between Margot and other 'naughty girls' is that she's malicious. She's more like Betty or even Thekla than someone like Emerence - who's a pain, sure, and immature, but not a bully - or Cornelia, who admittedly wasn't very nice when she first came to the school, but is mischievous rather than outright cruel.


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 Post subject: Re: Bookend Incident - Maynard Power
PostPosted: 17 Jul 2019, 01:27 
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I find that most of the time Margot isn't really malicious - the blackmail thing in Theodora is kind of jarring that way. She's impulsive, immature, and has a quick temper, and is not a hard worker. The impulsive, immature and lazy parts are also a lot to do with expectations - it's NOT unacceptably lazy for a 10 year old, even a bright one, to be in form with girls her own age. Intelligence is only a part of academic performance, and is not correlated with general maturity.

Really, what Margot needed was a school where she could be Margot - not Joey's daughter, not the bad triplet - in a form with girls her own age and teachers who expected her to work steadily and regarded controlling her temper as a reasonable request, not a religious vocation. One where she got promoted with her age mates at the beginning of the year and stayed in the same form all year. And, maybe a day school would have served her well - the variation in environment, and not being held to boarding school regimentation all the time, and learning to switch between family, school and extra-curricular expectations, rather than having them blended into one.

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