drugs, 'dosing' and the highly-strung at the CS
Select messages from
# through # FAQ
[/[Print]\]

The CBB -> Anything Else

#1: drugs, 'dosing' and the highly-strung at the CS Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:28 pm
    —
The 'Romance and Love' thread veered off in the direction of a discussion of the tendency of CS doctors to sedate their wives and thence to a discussion of drugs and dosing, particularly sedatives and 'tranquillisers', at the CS. People had various opinions on whether EBD actually meant sedatives and tranquillisers in the modern sense, or whether she simply believed aspirin or Disprin had tranquillising effects. There is the famous glass of brandy and aspirin cocktail, made by Matey. It was also pointed out that Hilary Graves, oddly, appears to carry tranquillisers about with her in Reunion, and to offer them to passing strangers who appear to need calming...

This got me thinking about EBD's interest in the 'highly-strung' girl or woman, and the way she depicts quite a few characters as excitable or 'nervous' - arguably, even the CS at large, which seems to be a rather excitable school. Mademoiselle or Miss Annersley is very often shown as 'letting the girls have their heads' in wild applause or excitement after making some announcement about an expedition or an old girl's new baby, before reining them in again, and there are invariably blow-ups when outdoor exercise is impossible. Was this a common attitude to teenage girls in EBD's day? Is it, like 'growing very fast' and the 'tiresome Middle' some kind of coded reference to puberty?

Also, on a more physical note - I was trying to remember what is in the composite 'dose' with which some unfortunates are dosed by their fellows in Camp? I don't have a copy - aren't senna pods and syrup of figs (both laxatives) involved?

Are the CS girls really so excitable and constipated they require constant dosing with tranquillisers and laxatives?

#2:  Author: MonaLocation: Hertfordshire PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:51 pm
    —
The dose in Camp consists of:
syrup of fig
Gregory powder
liquorice powder
senna pods

As to how any of it was supposed to counteract the effects of pond-water, your guess is as good as mine!

#3:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:06 pm
    —
Mona wrote:
The dose in Camp consists of:
syrup of fig
Gregory powder
liquorice powder
senna pods

As to how any of it was supposed to counteract the effects of pond-water, your guess is as good as mine!


*laughs*

I thought I must be remembering it wrong, but senna, syrup of figs and Gregory powder are all laxatives! Now, I appreciate that they weren't supposed to be taken together, but why has the CS Guide company taken so many different laxatives to camp with them? I know one comes across references to children in times past being dosed with laxatives once a week, but I would have thought that was long over by the time of writing of the CS...? (All those bread twists and featherbeds of whipped cream?)

Also, (given we never hear about whether there are loos in the Splasheries at the CS, so certainly no mention is made of toilet arrangements in camp) that dose must have resulted in quite a few lengthy visits to the woods by the dosed girls...

#4:  Author: RóisínLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 7:48 pm
    —
I think the laxatives are a necessary in the diet of the time, which would have been missing a lot of the brown roughage that we now know helps peristalsis (sp?). The girls' diets seem to have been mostly based on meat and white flour products with some fruit only occasionally (fruit being it seems on a par with sweets). Perhaps they were thin because they were unconciously following Atkins? Shocked

The highly-strung-ness seems like the same kind of illness as 'female hysteria' which was prevented and treated all the time in the last century. If I remember rightly, Ju Gosling has a chapter on this energy that EBD is always describing, in her World of Girls web-thesis.

#5:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:40 pm
    —
Róisín wrote:
I think the laxatives are a necessary in the diet of the time, which would have been missing a lot of the brown roughage that we now know helps peristalsis (sp?). The girls' diets seem to have been mostly based on meat and white flour products with some fruit only occasionally (fruit being it seems on a par with sweets). Perhaps they were thin because they were unconciously following Atkins? Shocked

The highly-strung-ness seems like the same kind of illness as 'female hysteria' which was prevented and treated all the time in the last century. If I remember rightly, Ju Gosling has a chapter on this energy that EBD is always describing, in her World of Girls web-thesis.


Just been glancing at the Ju Gosling thesis (had forgotten I'd already read it some time ago - thanks for reminding me!). She argues for a reading of the dwelling on food throughout the CS - especially foreign, festive and sweet food - as a kind of coded reference to sexuality. Pre-adolescent readers would get a sensual kick from all those orgies of cream cakes. Those 'featherbeds of whipped cream' take on a whole new set of connotations! Interesting that she points out that unlike Enid Blyton, EBD has girls eat sweet foods entirely legitimately during school functions, rather than keeping it for midnight feasts, which for JG suggest a night-time, forbidden, more potentially erotic context for sweet food.

Not sure where that leaves us with the laxative overkill - are they suppressants of food-related sensuality? The dark side of the CS diet? You're right about the lack of roughage, greens and fruit, and perhaps I'm being naive or very much my 2008 vegetarian self to find it a bit strange that the CS would 'correct' dietary defiencies with purging drugs, if there was a knowledge of what constituted a healthy diet...?

#6:  Author: BillieLocation: The south of England. PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:04 pm
    —
Out of interest, is there anything that isn't apparently a coded reference to sexuality? Rolling Eyes I have a literature degree and am yet to find it.

#7:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:05 pm
    —
I agree heartily, Billie! We used to have great fun in our tutorials coming up with the weirdest sexuality references we could. Smile

#8:  Author: Travellers JoyLocation: Middle of Nowhere PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:08 pm
    —
Well, you can read sexual innuendo into almost anything if you look hard enough. That doesn't mean it was the author's intention though.

#9:  Author: BillieLocation: The south of England. PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:09 pm
    —
Of course not. Literary theory teaches you more about the critics than the writer, or even the text most of the time. Laughing

#10:  Author: RóisínLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:09 pm
    —
In terms of issues to do with growing up (ie puberty) and using food over-lavishly as a metaphor, I think it's fair enough for Ju Gosling to make the argument at least. At least it opens up a debate, if/when others disagree.

#11:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:32 pm
    —
To go back to the dose in camp - wasn't it the girls who made up that mixture?

#12:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:39 pm
    —
Pat wrote:
To go back to the dose in camp - wasn't it the girls who made up that mixture?


They did, but the ingredients were all there in the First Aid Box. Makes me feel that my first aid boxes are sadly under-supplied - all I have are bandages, slings, plasters and the like... Laughing

#13:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:45 pm
    —
Licquorice is also laxative in effect, so it must have gone through them like a blast.

I think the theory was that if they took all that lot mixedup together, the germs from the water would have been out of the body in double (quadruple?) time and would therefore not be harmful to them.

#14:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:53 pm
    —
Yes, that mixture was definitely not sanctioned by authority. The culprits are told they could have poisoned their patients.

From Campcraft for Girl Guides (1930), we have:
Quote:
Health depends to a large extent on getting rid of the waste products and poisons secreted in the body. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Guides should keep regular habits when in camp. The morning visit to the latrine should never be missed, and as change of food and a different kind of life often leads to constipation, the camp nurse should make inquiries every night and give doses where necessary. It is best to give the Guides the type of medicine that they are used to, pills to those who always have them, and salts to the others. Castor oil should not be given except as a purgative in a case of poisoning, stoppage, etc.

If constipation becomes general throughout the camp, the food is probably at fault. The menu should be rearranged, more fruit and green food given, and hot lemonade the last thing at night instituted.


So, it seems a guider who brought only one sort of laxative wasn't doing her job.

Also, from sad experience, I can tell you that the emphasis on daily regularity continued at least into the early sixties in some places.

#15:  Author: RóisínLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:06 am
    —
Hot lemonade?! help

#16:  Author: SugarLocation: second star to the right! PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:37 am
    —
hot lemonade, or boiling water and lemon is good for your digestion.

#17:  Author: patmacLocation: Yorkshire England PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:39 am
    —
Róisín wrote:
Hot lemonade?! help


That would probably be made with real lemons, not the fizzy bottled clear kind. The laxative 'obsession' certainly went on into the 60s with some people. I used to walk a small boy to school with my children and his mother sometimes kept him home because he hadn't 'been'. Mind you, she also kept him home once because he had 'a cold in one nostril Shocked

During the second world war, health improved enormously because people ate more vegetables and also unrefined flour was used in bread. That would tie in with the less than optimum diet in the 30s and also, the richer you were, the more meat you ate and also the more refined the flour you demanded for your white bread - brown bread was for the poor.

I also read Ju Gosling's theory on the sexual innuendos of references to food and agree with those who say you can find sexual innuendos in anything if you look hard enough. I'm inclined to think the likely explanation is a little simpler. During the 40s and 50s we had rationing and the very mention of cream cakes evoked a life so removed from reality as to be exotic - perhaps EBD was just being nostalgic - or really liked cream cakes?

#18:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:39 am
    —
Hot lemonade is lovely, much nicer than ordinary lemon-flavored herbal teas, but I've never thought of it as a cure for constipation. I'd be more likely to go for it when suffering from a nasty cold.

ETA just saw Patmac's. Yes, lemonade, hot or cold, involves real lemons and sugar -- or maybe frozen concentrate if lemons are unavailable. It never occurred to me that there could be confusion with lemon soda.


Last edited by Kathy_S on Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:44 am; edited 1 time in total

#19:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:44 am
    —
To get back to the original question, in the mid-1920s when the first CS books were written some people did take the view that teenage girls and young women were "excitable"/nervous etc - it was one of the arguments used against giving women the vote (women aged 21 to 30 didn't get the vote in the UK until 1928).

Some of the girls are certainly depicted as being very highly-strung - Vanna and Luigia (I think) are separated from the others during the flood in Jo of as they were apparently totally hysterical and Madge didn't want to risk them upsetting the others Rolling Eyes .

Regarding the point about laxatives, I think that what Roisín said about the diet of the time probably accounts for it. My grandparents always insisted on having laxatives in stock in the bathroom cabinet at all times Rolling Eyes !

#20:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:39 am
    —
I don't think it's an accurate reading of Ju Gosling's position to suggest that she sees 'sexual innuendoes' in the CS food - she suggests that the CS books invest luscious food with a certain sensuality which would appeal to a pre-adolescent reader, but which certainly doesn't preclude EBD and her readers' own experience of rationing as a strong contributing factor to why rich or sweet food is seen as so appealing.

These are novels in which the body is generally left out entirely, apart from fairly stereotyped depictions of female prettiness, which focuses entirely on faces and hair, lots of references to physical tidiness and cleanliness, and the medicalised 'frail' body - there's no source of physical pleasure or comfort apart from food, or none that could be depicted in a GO book. Dwelling on food is one of the few places where the texts let themselves go slightly in sensual terms. I don't think JG is suggesting hidden breast images among the luscious meringues topped with cherries or anything! The Famous Five have something similar going on - even Harry Potter is full of treacle tart and pumpkin juice.

I do find JG's readings sometimes simplistic - I find a bit maniacal the notion that the flood that comes down from the direction of Jem's San in Jo of suggests the male orgasm (because Madge is depicted as blushing under Jo's questioning about whether she wishes Jem was present). But I think she's right on how the fairly self-censoring novels transfer some of the physical awakwardnesses of adolescence - the periods, hormonal fluctuations, physical development etc that are never able to be talked about in GO stories of EBD's day - to less specific depictions of Middles' unruliness and energy.

Kathy_S - thanks for that extract from the 1930 Guides' book! Horrifying!

#21:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:09 am
    —
I do see the excitable Middles as being a coded reference to puberty. We're talking about girls in the 13-15 year old age range, which is right in the middle of all the hormonal fluctuations, and they tend to get irritable and snappish with each other when they're kept together too long without exercise and fresh air.

There is also the classic highly strung artistic character type in girl's fiction. A girl who is easily excitable, impulsive, prone to getting emotionally overwrought, and tends towards things like sleepwalking, fainting and wild flights of imagination is almost always portrayed as artistic, sensitive, creative, and emotionally and mentally of a higher order of being. Think about Joey in the CS books, Maidlin in the Abbey books, or Anne or Emily in LMM's books.

In contrast, girls who are even tempered, calm, practical, have good emotional control, and are well grounded in reality are usually shown as foils to the above type - good at practical stuff but not at all creative, artistic or sensitive.

#22:  Author: Travellers JoyLocation: Middle of Nowhere PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:18 am
    —
Sunglass wrote:
I don't think it's an accurate reading of Ju Gosling's position to suggest that she sees 'sexual innuendoes' in the CS food - she suggests that the CS books invest luscious food with a certain sensuality which would appeal to a pre-adolescent reader, but which certainly doesn't preclude EBD and her readers' own experience of rationing as a strong contributing factor to why rich or sweet food is seen as so appealing.


Just to be clear, since I was the first person the use the term 'sexual innuendo', I wasn't actually referring to Ju Gosling's position at all. In fact it's years since I read Ju's World of Girls, so I'm not in a position to comment on what she has or hasn't said. I'd been responding to Billie's
Quote:
Out of interest, is there anything that isn't apparently a coded reference to sexuality? I have a literature degree and am yet to find it.


and Kate's
Quote:
I agree heartily, Billie! We used to have great fun in our tutorials coming up with the weirdest sexuality references we could.


And my point was that we can analyse books as much as we like but just because we see something in it doesn't mean that the author wrote it with that in mind (or even subconscious). As readers we come to books with our own experiences and those can be vastly different when we live in a world 30-40-50+ years removed from the world portrayed in the books (any books, not just CS); but we interpret the books on the basis of our own understanding of how the world works - which may not necessarily be the way it was then.

Take all the discussion on dosing and tranquillisers at the moment: some people are coming to a point where they wonder if what EBD meant as 'tranquilliser' is the same as what we mean today.

Jennifer wrote:
Quote:
I do see the excitable Middles as being a coded reference to puberty. We're talking about girls in the 13-15 year old age range, which is right in the middle of all the hormonal fluctuations, and they tend to get irritable and snappish with each other when they're kept together too long without exercise and fresh air.


But is it a 'code' or simply an accurate description?

#23:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:09 am
    —
I see it as a code because no reference, subtle or otherwise, is ever made to puberty or it's physical or mental effects. When the middles get fractious, it's always blamed on the weather, or the atmosphere, or the food or something. It's only when you look carefully that you realize that this is only being applied to the girls of the right age to be in the middle of puberty.


I agree that you can get sexual content out of anything - I've extracted sexual innuendo from a statistical mechanics textbook.

#24:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:03 pm
    —
Travellers Joy wrote:


And my point was that we can analyse books as much as we like but just because we see something in it doesn't mean that the author wrote it with that in mind (or even subconscious). As readers we come to books with our own experiences and those can be vastly different when we live in a world 30-40-50+ years removed from the world portrayed in the books (any books, not just CS); but we interpret the books on the basis of our own understanding of how the world works - which may not necessarily be the way it was then.

Take all the discussion on dosing and tranquillisers at the moment: some people are coming to a point where they wonder if what EBD meant as 'tranquilliser' is the same as what we mean today.


We only have the words on the page, and no access to EBD's mind, so while we can speculate about what she may have consciously 'meant', or what kinds of general cultural assumptions etc she was drawing on, but we can never know, and I think to limit reading the CS to what EBD might consciously have meant would be very limiting - we have a lot fun here reading the CS novels in ways which would have surprised EBD considerably, and I think that's entirely legitimate!


Most of the discussions here run off a combination of 'what might EBD's own attitude have been?', which is often interesting, if pretty much unverifiable, and a more historicist 'what might the prevailing attitude of her day have been?' which is often illuminating. (I was intrigued to hear the segment about constipation from the 1930s Guider's handbook - who knew that the good 1930s Guider was supposed to bring multiple different kinds of laxative to camp?) I mean, we will never know - unless this is somehow covered in the EBD biog! - whether EBD was under the illusion that aspirin made you sleep, and it's highly unlikely that she consciously intended to write a set of school stories where girls and women keep being sedated as a frequent plot point - but I think it's interesting to see the sheer amount of drugging and dosing and medicalising as integral to the way she chooses to construct her fictional school girls and the female body in general.

I don't think EBD consciously set out to write the CS as full of the emotionally and physically fragile. Obviously, there's a good, consciously-plotted reason why the CS gets frail girls, because of the San, and the San is there to allow Madge and other ex-mistresses and OGs to marry doctors and remain within the school's orbit, as well as to provide a reason for new girls with tragic back-stories. But I think we can certainly speculate legitimately about the ways in which she writes about the female body and mind as fragile, and why she is considerably more interested in the fragile.

#25:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:16 pm
    —
There's a pretty big irony in that :

a) the books are full of references about how the girls should aim to be strong, useful women, not "spineless jellyfish", and how people who are "soft" - e.g. Simone, Odette, the girl whose name I've forgotten who's in Vi Lucy's dormitory in Three Go and cries a lot - get no sympathy for their problems and are told to pull themselves together, which is in keeping with the British school story genre in general, but at the same time,

b) there are constant references to people being fragile, delicate, nervous, highly-strung, etc. Obviously some people are physically frail which is a different issue, but an awful lot of people are also psychologically frail. For example, after the journey across the Channel in Goes To It/War Joey collapses, leaving Nell and Frieda to take care of her children, and during the flood in Jo of 2 people get so hysterical that they are put in isolation.

The "strong" people - Gisela, Hilda, Mary-Lou, etc - come in for a lot of praise, but the school still seems to revolve around the idea that the needs of the "fragile" people should be central to what goes on.

Are there any weak male characters in the books? Mr Denny is fragile physically due to ill-health. And, again ironically, right at the start of the series we're presented with a situation in which family decisions are always made by a female (Madge) with the man of the household (Dick) just doing as he's told Laughing . Donal O'Hara is a total wuss. And there are "baddies" such as Stephen Venables and Captain Carrick. But most of the men seem to be the rescuing-helpless-females type!

#26:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:40 pm
    —
My (fairly vague) thought on this is that EBD often uses medicine, medical authority and female fragility as a way of resolving things that are uncomfortably contradictory. I see her as on the cusp of a recognisably modern feminist endorsement of female independence and career-mindedness, and the CS encourages that in showing us a happy all-female community engaged in learning and teaching, praising female strength and self-reliance and increasingly pointing girls towards careers - but I don't think she's entirely comfortable with letting that be her final word - what is the place for men in that world? How can she avoid accusations of portraying 'masculine' career women and unwomanly girls? How does she factor in men at all, and how does she put some kind of limit to what women can do?

So she does also, contradictorily, insist on women's frailty, and hence the necessity for doctors to come in and be masterful all over the place, and forbid things - so women are limited by their own physical or mental fragility. Robin can't do settlement work because she's not strong enough. Lavender must be left at the CS for a year no matter how much she pleads to her aunt, because the Doctor Says So. Gwensi Howell's aunt (step-sister? can't remember) can't take her in because she's 'not strong'. Miss Bubb, the ambitious, academically-minded headmistress, is brought low and made into a pitable figure by her illness. Joey's marriage, which might otherwise have been skewed towards female domination because she's such a strong personality, and of course is famous in her own right as a novelist (and has her own income), regains its belance when Jack steps in to enforce bed rest and sedatives, as he so often does. (In fact, she admits her love to him for the first time in the context of her own shock and weakness,when she hails him as her SLOC when Robin has gone missing...) Miss Annersley and Bill might seem like unimpeachably powerful women, until Jack shows up and addresses them as 'you girls'. Because doctors trump Heads. (Actually it may have been Hilda and Rosalie Dene he says this to in 'Shocks' - can't remember!)

#27:  Author: RroseSelavyLocation: Oxford, UK PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:02 pm
    —
Sunglass wrote:
I find a bit maniacal the notion that the flood that comes down from the direction of Jem's San in Jo of suggests the male orgasm


Shocked Shocked Shocked

#28: drugs Author: JSLocation: Perthshire PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:42 pm
    —
My mother-in-law (80 this year) used to give her beloved lurcher paracetamol on bonfire night as a "sedative", so who knows what the "dose" actually consisted of. I'm always amused at the administering of brandy or any kind of spirits, and not just to the pupils, which always seems to to elicit the comment "Urgh, filthy stuff". Was it somehow not quite nice for women to drink spirits? After all, they all seemed to enjoy a "light wine" well enough.

#29:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:05 pm
    —
Well, brandy is quite strong and if neat brandy was forced down my throat I think I'd call it filthy stuff! I wouldn't drink brandy by choice - especially the sort of "medicinal" brandy they use. I doubt it's Hennessy or Remy Martin!

And this is from a person very happy to drink whiskey and port in most forms... Wink I know far too much about alcohol, am I living up to an Irish stereotype??

#30:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:18 pm
    —
Kate wrote:
Well, brandy is quite strong and if neat brandy was forced down my throat I think I'd call it filthy stuff! I wouldn't drink brandy by choice - especially the sort of "medicinal" brandy they use. I doubt it's Hennessy or Remy Martin!


Bill: 'Joey! Seeing as you've just fished up a dead body inconveniently close to our Guide camp and are collapsing all over, let me force some brandy down your throat!'

Joey (weakly): 'Is it Hennessy? Or even some kind of Armagnac? I have my standards even when collapsing, you know.'

Bill: 'Get it down you.'

#31:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:35 pm
    —
Laughing Laughing Laughing

#32:  Author: JSLocation: Perthshire PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:38 pm
    —
Sunglass, that just made me laugh out loud (yes, I know there are probably groovy internet ways to say that but I'm new to this sort of thing!) Jennifer

#33:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:53 pm
    —
And given EBD’s intended audience, I can’t imagine that, “Mmmm, Brandy; I must remember to faint more often,” would have been appropriate.

#34:  Author: JSLocation: Perthshire PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:14 pm
    —
Nevertheless, they seemed to be well-prepared with drugs. Just been reading Reunion and within a few pages we had Hilary Graves producing a couple of tranquillisers for a lass who had near-hysterics (although slapped by Margot) when the lights went out, then Marie produced a flask of brandy when Stacie was alarmed at crossing running water. She didn't say "filthy stuff" mind you, so that's where my theory falls down! But then maybe with Marie being a countess and all, it was Armagnac!

#35:  Author: FiLocation: Somerset PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:15 pm
    —
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing at Sunglass and Katherine

#36:  Author: patmacLocation: Yorkshire England PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:49 pm
    —
Sunglass suggested replacing 'sexual' with 'sensual' in a previous post and imho she hit the nail on the head. In the 30's and 40's (even in the 50's and 60's Wink ) well brought up young girls at around puberty would not have recognised sexual feelings for what they were but they would have responded to 'innocent' sensuality as their hormones raged - and food can be quite sensual!

Is there a case for saying that the more fragile girls (stereotyped as artistic in some way in a lot of cases) are needed to represent the range of personalities which would be needed to craft an interesting story. Imagine a school populated by Mary-Lou clones - it would be rather boring.

As for the male stereotypes - there are still glass ceilings today and they were considerably lower and rather more opaque when these books were written so EBD was reflecting the society she lived in. I think it is a shame she didn't promote the independence of women rather more, especially considering that quite a few people have said in the past that the CS was an influence - for instance in wanting to learn other languages - but I wonder if her publishers would have agreed to such dangerous ideas being put into the heads of young girls. Don't forget there was an attempt to send women back to the kitchen to provide jobs for returning servicemen after the second world war.

#37:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:57 pm
    —
With all those jolly japes in cookery class surrounding girls taking the wrong kind of cloves/ castor rather than olive oil/ sulphur rather than saffron, it seems as though Matey's store contained general supplies for the whole school, including both medical and culinary stuff. (I'm assuming olive oil would have been used at the CS primarily for medical purposes then - as we get a reference to someone in Island having to wash her face with it in winter - and I've always been a bit puzzled by what the sulphur was doing there! Wikipedia says it was a component of anti-eczema creams in the (distant) past, and is an ingredient in gunpowder, matches and insecticide, but I'm still not that sure what it's doing at the CS...?)

Anyway, what I was trying to get at was that it seems likely that alcohol for medical purposes would have been kept in the same store, rather than in a mistress's private possession (!) and (with LM Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables making Diana drunk on home-made wine as an example) it would be highly amusing to me if someone with a headcold added it to a recipe in cookery class in large amounts and made the Middles genuinely unruly...

Does anyone know why sulphur would have been in the school store, rather than, say, in the science lab? Am I imagining that it's used in <i>The Nun's Story</i> as a means of fumigating a TB patient's room?

#38: Re: drugs Author: LottieLocation: Humphrey's Corner PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:33 pm
    —
JS wrote:
I'm always amused at the administering of brandy or any kind of spirits, and not just to the pupils, which always seems to to elicit the comment "Urgh, filthy stuff".

My future father-in-law dosed me on brandy after I'd fallen up the garden steps at their house and cut my head open. I've no idea what sort it was, but "Urgh, filthy stuff" sums it up quite well, really; and I've been known to drink brandy for pleasure. Maybe it has to taste unpleasant because it's medicinal!

#39:  Author: RóisínLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:50 pm
    —
patmac wrote:
Sunglass suggested replacing 'sexual' with 'sensual' in a previous post and imho she hit the nail on the head. In the 30's and 40's (even in the 50's and 60's Wink ) well brought up young girls at around puberty would not have recognised sexual feelings for what they were but they would have responded to 'innocent' sensuality as their hormones raged - and food can be quite sensual.


I think there is room for all views here. It's impossible to generalise about what a generation of people thought, and it's impossible to guess what was going through EBD's mind at any particular passage. Just as some (well brought up or not) young girls would not have recognised puberty or the existence of sexuality, some girls would have.
The facts that we know about EBD are quite few, but one of them is that she moved in theatrical circles that would have been used to exaggerated costumes/bodyshapes and literary ideas/interpretations.
I'm not disagreeing with patmac here, just pointing out that lots of interpretations are valid.

#40:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:48 pm
    —
Matey would have had sulphur in her medicine cupboard to use with treacle to 'cleanse theblood' Some where I think in hte early tyrol years she mentions the need to prepare a 'spring' mixture, or words to that effect, which would probalby have been 'brimstone and treacle'. I can remember my mother and father, who grew up in the twenties and thirties, contemporary with the books, telling of this huge brown jar and large spoon, in which this mixture was kept. Brandy on the other hand was, in our family, medicinally used for bad stomachs. My gran had a lot of these! Very Happy I still can't quite come to terms with it as a recreational drink. This does however put a cloud over Joan Bertram's frequent bilious attacks!

#41:  Author: FleuryLocation: Epsom PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:56 pm
    —
Quote:
I've always been a bit puzzled by what the sulphur was doing there


sulphur is also good for getting rid of threadworms and other internal parasites, although such things were, back then, unheard of in the class of girls who would have gone to schools like the CS. but it is also good for achy joints etc so maybe it was a component of the post-skiing joint linament! Rolling Eyes

#42:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:24 am
    —
Karry wrote:
Matey would have had sulphur in her medicine cupboard to use with treacle to 'cleanse theblood' Some where I think in hte early tyrol years she mentions the need to prepare a 'spring' mixture, or words to that effect, which would probalby have been 'brimstone and treacle'. I can remember my mother and father, who grew up in the twenties and thirties, contemporary with the books, telling of this huge brown jar and large spoon, in which this mixture was kept. Brandy on the other hand was, in our family, medicinally used for bad stomachs. My gran had a lot of these! Very Happy I still can't quite come to terms with it as a recreational drink. This does however put a cloud over Joan Bertram's frequent bilious attacks!


You know, I don't think I ever made the connection between 'brimstone and treacle', 'fire and brimstone' and sulphur - of course, it's obvious now that it's pointed out! Thank you. Interesting that EBD doesn't use the more familiar term, but I suppose it's too associated with Mrs Squeers and that sadistic nanny in 'Mary Poppins', and would suggest Matey was another in that ungodly line...

Although I confess to some disappointment that Matey wasn't secretly making gunpowder with Jockel, or whoever was being kept out of the dancing on Saturday nights. All that hemming sheets stuff could have been a cover-up...

#43:  Author: TorLocation: London PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:27 pm
    —
I think that EBD probably did mean tranquilizers in the valium sense, rather than the aspirin sense. My premise for this is that she has exceptional faith in the power of medical science to cure and deal with all ills, as is apparent with her general doctor-worship and sudden announcements that a new treatment has been developed that will cure "X", and it does!

Probably this is because she grew up in the era on wondrous penicillin, and the widespread use of vaccines, without experiencing the backlash against medical sciences/pharmaceutical companies that we see now. So she wasn't influenced by the thalidamide (? spelling) tragedy, or various scare stories, true or otherwise (MMR for example) that probably influence public opinion today.

[Suddenly thinking that the San in Switzerland would definitely now be another big-pharma firm. They all have head-quarters around there!]
We are all much more wary of a 'silver bullet' or a cure-all pill now, than EBD ever seemed to be. I actually find her general faith in a scientific cure for everything touching.

This is partly why i find Red Heads so weird/out of touch with the general EBD canon. Apart from the general silliness of the plot, the idea that drugging Flavia should be in some way bad only seems to make sense in reference to modern ideas of drug addiction, and not EBDs own mantra of emotional/medical issue (even just an anticipated one) = time for a dose!

Maybe she was told she needed to write something like this to redress the balance of her general support for liberal drugging without consent by the CS doctors???? Wink

#44:  Author: LizzieCLocation: Canterbury, UK PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:46 pm
    —
Tor wrote:
Probably this is because she grew up in the era on wondrous penicillin, and the widespread use of vaccines


While you're correct about the widespread use of vaccines I feel the need (as a historian, and an examiner for GCSE history Medicine through Time) to dispel your view of the use of "magic bullets" during the time EBD was growing up - in an era where medical science was struggling to find anything like a magic bullet, and generally failing.

Salvarsan 606 is generally regarded as the first coming about in 1905, but it only treated Syphilis and was just as likely to kill the patient. Prontosil and Sulphonamides came next (in the 1930s) but only had limited success and by that point EBD would have been an adult anyway - indeed, she had already written several CS books.

Penicillin did not come into proper use until 1944, due to the difficulties in producing enough to treat people with, and even then the use was generally restricted to military personnel.

I think, more than anything else, EBDs way of writing about Doctors and medical personnel shows that she came from an era where you put unquestioning trust into the people in positions of power - most often these were doctors, but there is evidence of her having similar views of others in authority, not least of which is her model parents teaching their children "unquestioning obedience".

#45:  Author: SunglassLocation: Usually London PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:02 pm
    —
Tor wrote:
I think that EBD probably did mean tranquilizers in the valium sense, rather than the aspirin sense. My premise for this is that she has exceptional faith in the power of medical science to cure and deal with all ills, as is apparent with her general doctor-worship and sudden announcements that a new treatment has been developed that will cure "X", and it does!
...

[Suddenly thinking that the San in Switzerland would definitely now be another big-pharma firm. They all have head-quarters around there!]
We are all much more wary of a 'silver bullet' or a cure-all pill now, than EBD ever seemed to be. I actually find her general faith in a scientific cure for everything touching.


Have just spotted potential for a wonderful CS Drugs Product Placement game!

Matey: 'Jo! You're clearly hiding your toothache again! Come and be dosed with Panadol (tm)!

Joey: 'Oh, please, Matron, need I put that chillie paste on? I much prefer this new Ixatron Cooling Gel! (tm)

#46:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:43 pm
    —
Tor wrote:

This is partly why i find Red Heads so weird/out of touch with the general EBD canon. Apart from the general silliness of the plot, the idea that drugging Flavia should be in some way bad only seems to make sense in reference to modern ideas of drug addiction, and not EBDs own mantra of emotional/medical issue (even just an anticipated one) = time for a dose!

Maybe she was told she needed to write something like this to redress the balance of her general support for liberal drugging without consent by the CS doctors???? Wink


I always understood that she *did* mean drug addiction in the modern way. She was writing in the 60s by then and drugs were being talked about al lot - and used by people too. LSD for instance. Addiction to heroin was well known - after all laudanum had been used for decades by then.

#47:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:55 pm
    —
I thought so too - never seemed unusual to me, Agatha Christie was of roughly the same era and wrote quite a bit about drug users/addicts. As did Arthur Conan Doyle who was quite a bit earlier.

#48:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:42 am
    —
I see part of her faith in doctors (and the absolute, unquestioning obedience) as rooted more in the uncertainty of medical care, particularly in the early days. People died much more easily, so the doctors were to be obeyed and revered as they were the only ones who could do much.

Things that we regard as minor illnesses - the flu, complications of colds (like bronchitis or tonsillitis), or straightforward medical procedures (having your appendix out, or a C-section) or minor injuries could easily be fatal, in large part due to the lack of antibiotics to fight off infection or bacterial illnesses. Plus, due to immunizations, we don't really worry about our children dying or being permanently disabled due to things like measles or polio.

I think it was probably my generation - those born in the 60s and 70s - who really grew up with the magic bullet mentality. We had modern hospitals, operations with minimal risks of dying of complications, and loads of antibiotics. I think it was the advent of AIDS that heralded the end of that era, followed by things like superbugs, drug resistant malaria and TB, and the recent bird flu and SARS scares to hammer it in.

There still is the widespread idea that if you are sick, or imperfect, or have any sort of disorder that there should be a magic pill that makes everything all better. It's not antibiotics now, though, it's weight loss pills, seritonin enhancers, Ritalin, Viagra, herbal supplements, antioxidant pills and so on, with widely varying degrees of usefulness and necessity.

#49:  Author: TorLocation: London PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:11 pm
    —
Quote:
I always understood that she *did* mean drug addiction in the modern way. She was writing in the 60s by then and drugs were being talked about al lot - and used by people too. LSD for instance. Addiction to heroin was well known - after all laudanum had been used for decades by then.


Yes I agree, what I meant was (hope I can explain better) is that the rest of EBD's attitude to drug taking is totally positive, and that the seemingly blanket approach to sedating willy nilly without regards to potential side effects. So the sinisterness of the plot to make Flavia an addict reads weirdly in the context of that... makes the doctor's dosing seem suddenly sinister even *within* the CS world.. in fact maybe it was that book that first made me think twice about the Jem/Jack dosing approach! It's as though EBD has suddenly had a revelation that drugs aren't always a good thing!

Quote:
While you're correct about the widespread use of vaccines I feel the need (as a historian, and an examiner for GCSE history Medicine through Time) to dispel your view of the use of "magic bullets" during the time EBD was growing up - in an era where medical science was struggling to find anything like a magic bullet, and generally failing


oops, I meant more that she was writing in an era of new drugs! Embarassed I really was thinking what a relief it must have been to suddenly have had these new wonder drugs available after WW2. Anyway, I think EBDs faith in the ability of doctors and science contrasts quite strikingly with most peoples general feelings today. And it probably was a generational thing, people were putting their faith in all sorts of scientific remedies to the worlds needs (nuclear power etc).

#50:  Author: ClareLocation: Liverpool PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:32 pm
    —
jennifer wrote:
I see it as a code because no reference, subtle or otherwise, is ever made to puberty or it's physical or mental effects. When the middles get fractious, it's always blamed on the weather, or the atmosphere, or the food or something. It's only when you look carefully that you realize that this is only being applied to the girls of the right age to be in the middle of puberty.
I agree that you can get sexual content out of anything - I've extracted sexual innuendo from a statistical mechanics textbook.


I can honestly say the weather affects children's behaviour - if it's windy I dread going into work because the kids are as high as kites! Rain depresses them and makes them mess about more because they can't go outside. And don't start me on what they're like when it's a full moon! And when it's all three combined... Shocked

#51:  Author: Mrs RedbootsLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:00 pm
    —
Tor wrote:
Yes I agree, what I meant was (hope I can explain better) is that the rest of EBD's attitude to drug taking is totally positive, and that the seemingly blanket approach to sedating willy nilly without regards to potential side effects. So the sinisterness of the plot to make Flavia an addict reads weirdly in the context of that... makes the doctor's dosing seem suddenly sinister even *within* the CS world.. in fact maybe it was that book that first made me think twice about the Jem/Jack dosing approach! It's as though EBD has suddenly had a revelation that drugs aren't always a good thing!


I think that, even in the 1960s, our attitude was that anything prescribed by a doctor was a Good Thing. We hadn't yet heard of the horror that people went through trying to come off Valium, for instance. But "drugs" - heroin, coke, LSD, speed, etc, were, if not as widespread as they are now, then just as much talked about and warned against in school & stuff.



The CBB -> Anything Else


output generated using printer-friendly topic mod. All times are GMT + 1 Hour

Page 1 of 1

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group