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Joey: "The best Head Girl we ever had"
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Author:  Dreaming Marianne [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Joey: "The best Head Girl we ever had"

Just been having a lovely re-read of "New House", courtesy of GGBP, and I must declare myself slightly foxed as to how Joey earns this accolade. She's easily upset, some might say over-sensitive, allows her personal feelings to affect her conduct towards others (snapping at everyone when she has toothache, and, most major plot device of all - goes around chattering loudly and inanely in a study room just before exams.

This irritates Anne Seymour who, admittedly, is a bit smart alecky (but she isn't a Junior or even a Middle for heaven's sake, she's a Senior trying to study). Put in her shoes I should have been a sight less polite than "Go and put your head in a bag", or words to that effect.

Any other thoughts?

Marianne (Team Seymour)

Author:  Clare [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:09 pm ]
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I think the title did evolve over time, but she was a member of the founding family who did pretty much devote her life to the school... Ok she clung to it like a baby to a security blanket, but she was popular and generally well liked.

And a member of the founding family.

Author:  Maeve [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:38 pm ]
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What does Spirit of the School even mean? Surely every CS girl was suppose to try to embody this - whatever it is :)

As Clare said, over time, Joey definitely showed herself to be dedicated to the school but when New House was written, yes, she was an attractive character, but all the head girls before her had been pretty outstanding.

Author:  Kat [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:44 pm ]
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She was a bit crap really!

Author:  Lesley [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:58 pm ]
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Best Head Girl ever? No, prior to her there was Giesel, Juliet, Bette, Grizel and Mary - and even with only those five she wouldn't be top. She was very popular and warm hearted, had a way to be friendly toward any that she wanted but she was neither perfect nor did she truly try her hardest.

She made little attempt to get to know or like those she disliked - at least not until directly asked to by another (Gillian and Joyce Linton) she felt girls were better off standing on their own two feet rather than being helped when new and stood upon her dignity when she ought to have realised she was annoying or upsetting people.

She remained heedless and rather thoughtless while a Head Girl and didn't really change greatly to try and place the School above her own needs.

Spirit of the School? This I think is more likely - she was, while attending, and afterwards embodied that spirit and was held up as the type of person lesser mortals should strive for. However I feel Mary Lou was a far better Head Girl (even though I don't like her butting in!)

Author:  JayB [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:52 pm ]
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Jo was also quite disrespectful to Matron Besly. Matron was a silly idiot, but she was an adult and a member of staff, and thus was entitled to respect.

I think Hilary Burn's contribution as Head Girl is rather overlooked. She led the school in the very difficult time after the Anschluss, and had to carry a lot of responsibility for the younger girls on the flight out of Austria, when Miss Wilson was out of it and Jo wasn't a lot of use.

(And I also think Anne Seymour got a very raw deal, from Eustacia onwards.)

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:06 pm ]
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I think that Gisela was probably the best Head Girl, although it's difficult to say as some of them don't have as many problems to deal with as others do and some of them "appear" as Head Girl in a lot more scenes than others do.

Teenage Joey is presented as someone with a mixture of faults and virtues, which made her an interesting character. It was only later on that people started saying that she was the best Head Girl ever: she didn't get a Special Prize For Being Joey when she left, in the way that Mary-Lou got a Special Prize For Being Mary-Lou, and I don't think she would ever have claimed the "accolade" of having been the best ever Head Girl for herself.

Of the "family" Head Girls, I think that Bride was the best.

Author:  jennifer [ Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:09 am ]
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She didn't do a bad job, but certainly wasn't the best!

She was popular and charming, and dedicated to the school. But, she was also thoughtless, not very good at gauging appropriate levels of discipline, clashed badly with people she didn't like (Joyce, Thekla, Eustacia, Elaine, Matron Besley), emotionally uncontrolled (nasty when she had toothache, totally out to lunch when worried about the Robin, bouncing off the walls when relieved), and inclined to collapse under stress.

I would say Gisela, who established the position in a tradition unfamiliar to her, or Hilary, who say the school through the last days in Austria, or Bride, who oversaw the school during the difficult merger with the Tanswick school and the preparations for the move to Switzerland, were far superior.

Author:  Liz K [ Mon Sep 01, 2008 5:26 am ]
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jennifer wrote:
She was popular and charming, and dedicated to the school. But, she was also thoughtless, not very good at gauging appropriate levels of discipline, clashed badly with people she didn't like (Joyce, Thekla, Eustacia, Elaine, Matron Besley), emotionally uncontrolled (nasty when she had toothache, totally out to lunch when worried about the Robin, bouncing off the walls when relieved), and inclined to collapse under stress.


Beautifully summed up, couldn't have put it better.

Author:  JayB [ Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:35 am ]
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Quote:
Teenage Joey is presented as someone with a mixture of faults and virtues, which made her an interesting character.


Young Joey was aware of her faults and willing to accept responsibility for the consequences, too. For example in Head Girl when she says that her tactlessness might have contributed to Grizel's rash behaviour.

She was trying to make things easier for Grizel, of course, and however tactless Joey was, it doesn't excuse what Grizel did, but it shows a self-awareness that older Joey seems to lack.

By the time she's HG, she, and people around her, seem to think she's entitled to behave badly - eg the Anne Seymour business.

Author:  Mrs Redboots [ Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:41 pm ]
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I think I like Joey as Head Girl precisely because she has faults and isn't perfect. Too many other HGs come across as little plaster saints.... OOAO and Len Maynard, in particular.

Author:  claireM [ Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:41 pm ]
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I think Joey was a good headgirl and maybe if it was phrased one of the best it would be accurate but there are several other people who do a much better job in my opinion. Seeing her be headgirl despite her faults is fun and its the fact that she isn't perfect that make her likeable.

Author:  Abi [ Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:05 pm ]
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I think Joey is one of the most realistic head girls - quite a few are probably better, but who's that good in real life? :D And I do think she did it well, expecially as she wasn't really all that mature emotionally at the time.

Also, if anyone else had been it, they would almost inevitably have been overshadowed by Joey's more dominant personality - whatever else she was she was totally a leader.

Author:  Theresa [ Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:44 pm ]
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I think Joey at that age is a really interesting character but a really bad head girl. It's easy to be a good leader in regards to the people you like and are friendly with and when everything's going great, but the whole measure of how a person does in a leadership position is how they deal with the difficult things and the difficult people, and Joey simply doesn't. At all.

Author:  Cathie [ Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:16 pm ]
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She isn't a *bad* headgirl, but she was by no means the best. She was far to impulsive and lacked the awareness of others which would have made her a better headgirl. There were others in her form who would have just as good a job as her (Frieda, Marie).
Gisela was definitely one of the best. She was a lot more adult than Joey!

Author:  jennifer [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:05 am ]
Post subject: 

Cathie wrote:
She isn't a *bad* headgirl, but she was by no means the best. She was far to impulsive and lacked the awareness of others which would have made her a better headgirl. There were others in her form who would have just as good a job as her (Frieda, Marie).
Gisela was definitely one of the best. She was a lot more adult than Joey!


The problem is who would do a good job as headgirl with Joey as a subordinate. She is the dominant member of her form, and a natural leader the way no other girl is - if not necessarily a head-girl type leader.

Frieda I think would be too quiet and shy. It might have worked to swap Marie and Joey. Marie is more of a leader, and less shy, even if she isn't good at academics, and her social position would put her into more leadership roles after leaving school. Joey was athletic, and would have probably been happier as Games prefect.

Author:  JayB [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:15 am ]
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Quote:
Joey was athletic, and would have probably been happier as Games prefect.


Though I don't know whether seventeen year old Joey would have had the patience and tact to coach girls who weren't very good at games, and to encourage those who weren't keen.

The problem with Joey I think, as later with OOAO and Jack Lambert, is that EBD made them dominate their forms so much as they went up the school that by the time they reached/would have reached the Sixth no other girl had developed the necessary leadership abilities.

In most other years, there were two or three or more girls who might make perfectly competent head girls - to the extent that sometimes EBD had to write out a rival to allow her chosen candidate to get the job.

Author:  Tor [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:50 am ]
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Quote:
Though I don't know whether seventeen year old Joey would have had the patience and tact to coach girls who weren't very good at games, and to encourage those who weren't keen.


This immediately made me think of Margot, and wonder (though OT, sorry!) whether the poor girl would have turned out differently, if such a big fuss hadn't been made about how naughty she was. Margot and Jo (the Jo as she actually was in the early books rather the reinvented paragon she became) are actually rather similar in character! Jo, however, was never given the guilt complex that Margot seems to develop, and was able to shake off her worst character traits accordingly.

Author:  Caroline [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:14 pm ]
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I don't think Jo is the best head girl the school ever had, but she's certainly a very popular one - popular among all the younger girls - and a natural leader among her peers. I think that probably does mean she was the right choice in her year.

In many ways, she's a more realistic head girl than some of the other paragons that EBD presents us with - she does struggle with knowing how far to go when maintaining disciplining with the younger girls and sometimes she gets it wrong, and she doesn't have a perfect relationship with every member of staff and every other girl. I don't think that makes her a bad HG, though.

Re. Margot - although she does do some out of order things, I also think she gets some unduly harsh punishments (and OTT moralising from Jo) for doing just exactly the kind of unthinkingly bad / high spirits mischief things Jo did when she was at school....

Author:  JayB [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:28 pm ]
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Quote:
Re. Margot - although she does do some out of order things, I also think she gets some unduly harsh punishments (and OTT moralising from Jo) for doing just exactly the kind of unthinkingly bad / high spirits mischief things Jo did when she was at school....


And all the lecturing and preaching she gets about not working hard enough (although she was always in or above the right form for her age), when Jo never slogged at subjects she wasn't interested in, to the point where two teachers refused to teach her any more.

(Possibly part of the difference is that Jo didn't expect to have to go out and earn her own living, whereas Jo and Jack knew that Margot would have to. But it's still somewhat pots and kettles.)

Author:  Cel [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:09 pm ]
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JayB wrote:
And all the lecturing and preaching she gets about not working hard enough (although she was always in or above the right form for her age), when Jo never slogged at subjects she wasn't interested in, to the point where two teachers refused to teach her any more.

(Possibly part of the difference is that Jo didn't expect to have to go out and earn her own living, whereas Jo and Jack knew that Margot would have to. But it's still somewhat pots and kettles.)


But isn't it natural for a parent to try to stop their child from making the same mistakes they did? If parents never disciplined their children because they had done the same things themselves as youngsters, where would that lead? :D

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:45 pm ]
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JayB wrote:
Possibly part of the difference is that Jo didn't expect to have to go out and earn her own living


Actually, Joey's lack of a plan for when she leaves school (other than to "help" Madge, who employed a housekeeper and a nanny and so can't've needed much "help") is something that I think shows up Jo's lack of maturity at this stage - compared with, say, Simone, who talks not only about having to support herself but also about wanting to help her parents.

Marie and Frieda were both from wealthy families, but the whole point of the opening of the Chalet School was that the Bettanys didn't have enough money to support themselves unless Madge got a job. Even if Joey officially got a share of the profits from the school it can't've been much, and Dick by then had a wife and four children to support and couldn't've had much if anything over to send to Joey. So presumably she was expecting Jem to support her.

I think that Joey was the best choice out of her age group for the reasons that we're given - Frieda is too quiet, etc - but she wasn't very mature compared with e.g. Mary-Lou, Gisela, Mary etc at that age. I can't imagine her being "strong and calm" during something like the flood in Jo of, as Gisela is. That doesn't make her a bad Head Girl, but the "best HG ever" tag she's given in later years doesn't really work IMHO!

Author:  Tor [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:50 am ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
If parents never disciplined their children because they had done the same things themselves as youngsters, where would that lead?


Quite! Still, the parallels in character are interesting. It's almost as if EBD lost her sense of fun, and got stricter with her characters as she got older.

And if Joey wanted to make sure her kids didn't make the same mistakes she did - well, with Margot entering a nunnery, I think we can safely say she will be avoiding at least 11 of those 'little mistakes'!!!!! After growing up in Freudesheim, I am not surprised she wanted to hot-foot it to the peace and quiet of a religious order
:lol:

Author:  Honor [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:56 am ]
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I think Joey was a good head girl but certainly not the best. As some of you have said already, she was emotionally all over the place and could not be relied on in a crisis (usually colapsing with nervous stress whenever anything happened to the Robin for instance). However, most girls seemed to adore her or if they did not then they soon did, and she managed to put several girls back on the straight and narrow.
My vote personally would be for Gisela - steady and a great role model.

Author:  Caroline [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Tor wrote:
Quote:
If parents never disciplined their children because they had done the same things themselves as youngsters, where would that lead?


Quite! Still, the parallels in character are interesting. It's almost as if EBD lost her sense of fun, and got stricter with her characters as she got older.


Yes, I think that's a really good point (while recognising that the little family school in Jo's day is quite a different beast from the large public school of Margot's day, and acknowledging the greater degree of law and order required in the latter...).

If EBD had had Jo say to Margot in a very human fashion "I made these mistakes and did these things and they weren't clever, but I know how you feel, all stirred up and giddy sometimes, so I can sympathise - if you take my advice you'll work harder / not play the giddy goat as much...." then Margot probably still wouldn't have listened but at least Jo wouldn't have come across as quite so pots and kettles about it.

As it is, EBD has Jo get all pious and moralistic and talk to Margot about what a disappointment she is and compare her to Len and Con and generally be, as you say, lacking in sense of humour and perspective. Mores the pity.

Jo, I find to be quite a realistic teenager, with her moods and enthusiasms and do-first-thing-later attitude; shame EBD doesn't allow so many of the later girls to be likewise without some form of condemnation coming from authority.

Author:  Loryat [ Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:36 pm ]
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From a reader's persepective Jo is the best Head Girl - with the possible exception of Grizel. They are both interesting characters.

From a writer's prespective Joey and Grizel are undoubtedly the best Head Girl. They are, IMO, the only realistic Head Girls. The rest are just copies, more or less, from the same mould: unbelievably mature, wise in all dealings, able to quell Juniors with the wink of an eye. EBD usually gives them a chapter in each book to demonstrate these traits, mentions that they have ears like a wolf/fox/cat or similarly sharp eared animal, and forgets about them.

The only exceptions are girls who get books devoted to them as Head Girls - eg Peggy and Bride - and even then they have all the same aspects.

Gisela is a very good Head but has the easist job. Okay, the school is new, but there are a very small number of pupils and most of the Juniors are much more obedient than the later Juniors. Not so much in Jo of, admittedly, but most bad behaviour is dealt with by Madge, rather than by the prefects.

Mary Lou is a superlative Head Girl but she's too good.

The only other exception the the above trend is Maeve, who seems much more light hearted than all her predecessors and successors. IMO this is why she's the right choice for HG, but I know I'm alone in that. :D

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