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Thread for little questions

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Thread for little questions

Postby Yak » 10 Dec 2017, 22:43

Here's a thread for things that bug you or you just wonder about but that are not big enough to have a thread entirely to themselves :) So I will start: In First Form at Malory Towers, seats at the back were said to be highly prized, and new girls had to wait till the old girls had chosen before they took their desks. So how did Darrell end up with a back row desk?
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Rob Houghton » 11 Dec 2017, 01:36

Good idea for a thread! I'm often wondering whether to post questions or comments on various books! :-)

I never noticed that about Darrell getting a desk at the back - good question! Maybe some of the old girls had already been moved to the front previously and knew they had to sit there, so there were one or two desks at the back left empty! ;-)
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Yak » 11 Dec 2017, 01:51

But later on Jean was told she had to swap with Alicia after Alicia feigned deafness, and she said that she'd been longing to be at the back. So why didn't she just take the desk that Darrell took?
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby timv » 11 Dec 2017, 09:31

An intriguing thread; there are lots of minor questions that occurred to me as I was reading the books and which were never satisfactorily answered - or else I guessed an explanation that other forumites may be able to improve on. This could run and run.

To start the ball rolling: In the Malory Towers series, Book 4, we have Felicity joining the school in the summer term, ie the third term of the usual UK academic year (which runs Sept to July). She has been ill during the previous two terms and so unable to join MT in Sept the previous year - reflecting real life problems with children being at risk from epidemics of measles, mumps, scarlet fever etc in the years before successful immunisation. (Cf the long delay in the Marlow twins Nicola and Lawrie getting to school due to epidemics in Antonia Forest's Marlows series, beginning with 'Autumn Term' in 1948 contemporary with MT.)
Normally pupils in the 1940s onwards were put up a year each Sept, which reflects the move to more structured teaching aimed at preparation for public exams in June from the 1930s-40s onwards (especially the UK 1944 Education Act.) Hence Darrell and co. go up a year every autumn. Previously there was less stress on exams, so people could be kept down for an extra year if they would find the level of work in a higher form too difficult or had failed exams - as in the 'Billy Bunter' stories etc, 1910s-20s, boys are only put up a year when their work is satisfactory.

Felicity presumably has to stay down in the First Year in the forthcoming Sept (In The Fifth At MT) as she's only been at school for one term; but all her form who are mentioned stay down too, though they would normally have gone up to the Second. They all go up to the Second en bloc a year later; shouldn't most of them have gone up earlier than this? Was Enid writing at too much speed to notice this slip in logic - or was she automatically recycling her own memories of pre-1914 schools?
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Stephen » 11 Dec 2017, 17:00

Is Meddle supposed to be an adult or a child?

He's known as 'Mister Meddle', in one story he drives his aunt's car, and the illustrations have him at adult height and towering over children. On the other hand, his aunt constantly scolds him like a naughty schoolboy. In one story, she "smacks him hard" (can you imagine adults doing that to each other?), and in another, he sneaks out to the shop to buy some sweets even though she's forbidden him to go because it's too foggy.
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Rob Houghton » 11 Dec 2017, 17:19

Meddle is a pixie, so I guess anything goes! :-D
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Courtenay » 11 Dec 2017, 17:24

I haven't read that many Mr Meddle stories, but I recall he's supposed to be a pixie, which I guess makes him pretty much ageless — able to be like either a child or an adult as the occasion demands. Also, I'd say part of the funny side of the stories is that he behaves rather like a (particularly silly) child in a grown-up's body... sort of a Mr Bean of the fairy folk, if you like. :wink:
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Rob Houghton » 11 Dec 2017, 20:20

very true! One could almost say our Enid INVENTED Mr bean!! :lol:
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 11 Dec 2017, 21:34

I once bought Enid Blyton's Fifteenth Tell-a-Story Book (1966) at an Enid Blyton Day and found it contained two Mister Meddle stories which had been published elsewhere earlier - 'Mister Meddle and the Birds' and 'Goodbye Mister Meddle'. However, in this particular book the stories had been retitled 'Master Meddle and the Birds' and 'Goodbye Master Meddle'! Instead of the usual adult pixie character, the illustrations showed 'Master' Meddle as a schoolboy with a look of Just William about him - complete with cap, tie, blazer, shorts and satchel. The text still had other characters referring to him as a 'fellow' and addressing him as though he were an adult.
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Darrell71 » 20 Dec 2017, 09:45

timv wrote: Felicity presumably has to stay down in the First Year in the forthcoming Sept (In The Fifth At MT) as she's only been at school for one term; but all her form who are mentioned stay down too, though they would normally have gone up to the Second. They all go up to the Second en bloc a year later; shouldn't most of them have gone up earlier than this?

I think it was just many of the liberties that she took as an author, much like all of the head girls being from North Tower.
Yak wrote: In First Form at Malory Towers, seats at the back were said to be highly prized, and new girls had to wait till the old girls had chosen before they took their desks. So how did Darrell end up with a back row desk?

I think she was one of the well liked new girls, so Enid just wanted to place her at the back with the other well liked characters. But it's still a big slip, for sure. EB usually takes such liberties when being logical may affect the storyline very much. Would it really have changed the story much if she had had a front row desk? She could've been the one to trade with Alicia, if Enid really wanted her to experience a back row seat that term. :wink:
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Rob Houghton » 20 Dec 2017, 12:13

Maybe, as Darrell was friends with Alicia, no-one would have asked her to move seats. I get the impression that Alicia and Betty rather ruled the class and were the 'Alpha Girls' for want of a better expression!! :lol:
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Darrell71 » 20 Dec 2017, 19:50

Yeah, so did I. Although I guess Katharine woud've sat on them good and hard if she needed to.
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Re: Thread for little questions

Postby Yak » 21 Dec 2017, 22:35

I have a vague feeling I would not have liked Betty and Alicia very much :)
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