|This scan from the opening of Threepenny Bit shows the Carters' car drawing near Bath for their first visit to the Mallory family. In this book they meet Marietjie and Piet from South Africa.|
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
"No, no," said Diana heartily, "these will be fine. A bit squashed perhaps, but they'll be all right when we pick all that fluff off them."
"Delicious tea we're going to have," murmured Hermione.
Susan had bustled forward and was giving the buns a dust down with the sleeve of her cardigan. "Susan," cried Diana when she saw what was going on, "don't use your cardigan, for goodness sake!"
"It's quite all right, Diana," said Susan, "they won't hurt it, I use it for wiping up ink and jam and everything-"
From SUSAN AT SCHOOL, Chapter 2, Super Fags.
Monday, June 11, 2012
A nice scan of the spine of the Children's Press edition of Susan Pulls the Strings. Here we see Susan at the beginning of the very first chapter of the book, doing her maths homework and feeling quite proud that she has worked out a theorem. The subject that she is working on is geometry. She comments, rather oddly in my point of view, that she "quite likes" geometry, if she has a decent point on her pencil. Even more curiously, she goes on to add that algebra is "not bad", but that she doesn't like arithmetic. As arithmetic is the easiest aspect of maths, preferring geometry and algebra sounds unusual, especially in the case of Susan as we gradually come to know her as the not-so-very-dedicated pupil she turns out to be at St. Ronan's. As noted in a previous post, which you can read here, maths teachers turned out to be the most unpopular instructors in all of Jane Shaw's school stories. But the main focus of the first chapter of Susan Pulls the Strings is to let the reader know that Susan will be moving to London to stay with the Carmichaels during her parents' sojourn in Africa, so the subject of her homework is not meant to be very important.
|This is the last of the scans that Eva Löfgren has sent me so far, the cover of Susan Interferes in Swedish. The title means Fifi will fix it. The Swedish covers certainly cast the series in a different light.|
Jill and John and Laura, who had been unobtrusively - they hoped - peeping behind the girl as she and Penny were talking, were itching to get inside. Penny, who was wondering why the girl had been crying, said without much conviction, "We don't want to bother you-"
"Bother us!" said the girl. "We haven't spoken to anyone in a fortnight! Come in."
From THREEPENNY BIT, Chapter 5, Showers of Pennies.
Monday, June 4, 2012
In which subject did Jean Patrick (Jane Shaw) earn a degree from Glasgow University in the 1930s?
The answer to Quiz 62: Susan's favourite cake is a walnut cake from Fuller's. The picture shows this delicious cake that Susan and Tessa enjoyed in A Job for Susan on a bitterly cold afternoon in Wichwood Village on their return from St. Ronan's in the Lyles' new house just down the road from where the Carmichaels lived. I always smile when I read this part of the book because although the girls are described as feeling bloated after a huge tea, Mrs. Lyle immediately sets to preparing dinner even before they have even begun to digest this hearty meal. Food is an extremely important element in Susan's life. No matter how much she eats at breakfast, lunch or dinner, there is always plenty of room for ices and snacks with cold drinks in summer or extra cakes and sandwiches with hot drinks in winter!
Susan didn't think that Pea-green had had nearly such an exciting day as she had had - who had had all the worry of the blessed silkworms anyway? Still, Pea-green temperaments weren't her concern, luckily.
From SUSAN RUSHES IN, Chapter 12, A New Career for Charlotte. The word HAD appears six times in one sentence, to great comic effect.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
I wonder whether Jean Patrick had trouble with mathematics when she was at school. I say this because I've noticed that all of the most unpopular teachers in her stories are maths teachers. In the Caroline and Sara books and The Crew of the Belinda, we only see the characters during the holidays or on the last day of school, so we know little about their teachers. But starting in The Moochers and recurring in all the other school stories she ever wrote, the maths teachers are the ones who get the hardest deal. The Moochers mention that at their bankrupt co-educational school, Percie, they had a maths teacher called Mr. Williams, whom they describe as having a "lashing tongue". At Pendragon Manor, the most horrible teacher is Miss Perry, known to the girls as The Winkle. She is sarcastic and has an "acid voice"; the girls take an instant dislike to her and she to them. In the Northmead books, we do not actually get to meet the maths teacher, but we are told that her name is Miss Pratt-Paton, known as P-squared and described as "an old meanie". Later in the 1960s Jean Bell wrote A Girl with Ideas, set at Thornton Combe in Somerset. The dreaded maths teacher at this school is Miss Parker, whom the girls predictably nickname Nosy Parker. She is a nasty piece of work, never hesitating to tell the girls how useless and stupid they are and springing surprise tests on them out of the blue. At one point she even demands that the whole form should be expelled for cheating in their homework. However, when it comes to really horrible teachers, first prize has to go to Miss Ferrier (picture), the dreaded maths teacher at St. Ronan's, known to the girls as The Ferret. Susan, Midge and Tessa detest and fear this woman. She too has an acid tongue and indulges in cruel sarcasm. But there is more: she is apparently devoid of any redeeming qualities. In The Moochers and A Girl with Ideas, there are times when the reader feels sorry for the teachers or can at least sympathise with them. Miss Perry takes up with a crooked local councillor who just uses her to obtain inside information about the school so that he can force it to close and Miss Perry is let down because she believes this connving man actually wishes to marry her. Katherine and Fiona can't help thinking that this is more than even she deserves. Miss Parker is not 100% bad because the girls actually did cheat and she is quite right to be angry about it. But Miss Ferrier possesses no attributes that soften her character at all. She doesn't hesitate to punish the girls with extra maths even on a Saturday afternoon and is oblivious to their appeals that they should be playing hockey, even when it is a big match and the honour of the school is at stake. The only characters that come off worse than her are the Gascoignes.
So why is it that the maths teachers come across as such unlikeable people? I suspect that the author had some bad times with them at school. When I was growing up in Glasgow, I too had some awful experiences in maths classes. Most of the teachers of this subject that I came up against were sarcastic and seemed to adopt the attitude that if you couldn't understand maths that was just hard lines. I remember one teacher, whom we called Big Bob D or Bob the Slob. He would come in, scribble an equation on the board that always seemed to end with x=2 and tell us to "dae the exercise" while he stomped out of the room for a smoke. The only time I sought help from him while struggling with the bewildering maze of algebra he mockingly said with his unforgettable big cheesy grin "So ye cannae understand it? Aww..." Then, to add insult to injury, at a parents' meeting, he told my mother to tell me to "just ask him" when I found the going too tough! I did have one maths teacher who was nice, a Mr. Durkin. He did strange things like explaining, giving clear examples and even repeating if you didn't get it, something his peers seemed incapable of. But if I were to write a book about a school, the maths teacher would probably come out like one of Jane Shaw's.
So then I began to feel better and tried to thank Pierre for dashing to my rescue, but Pierre only laughed and said that it was easy to be courageous when an important member of the Sûreté was right behind you.
"The Sûreté?" I gaped. "That's the French equivalent of Scotland Yard, isn't it? Then he really is a flic after all?"
From ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, Chapter 14, Show-down.
Friday, June 1, 2012
In Bernese Adventure, when Sara finds she has no money to pay for the lemonade she has just finished drinking, how does she resolve the situation?
The answer to Quiz 60: The Folding Letter is the handwritten letter by William Shakespeare in Susan's Helping Hand that is stolen by the Mad Collector.
But she couldn't just stand there, feeling sick. She made a dart at the bed, remembering her own invariable hiding-place for illicit comics when she was small, and pushed back the mattress. There lay a solitaire diamond ring and a crescent brooch, the very bag with Midland Bank on it that she had handed to the unknown at the gymkhana, a soft pigskin purse.
("I was right," she though, "I was right!")
From FOURPENNY FAIR, Chapter 15, Proof.