Thursday, November 19, 2009

the good girl syndrome

is something that I still suspect that I am afflicted with, after all these years: it's there even, and of course, in my determination, even at the end of a long day, to take a photograph and write a post - though what I am trying to prove to whom is a more murky puzzle. I've been reading Rachel Simmons's The Curse of the Good Girl - by the woman who wrote the excellent Odd Girl Out - in part because I admired this earlier book, in part because, I guess, at some level, I'm still trying to break the spell. Even though it's a book primarily aimed at the mothers of such girls, I guess I can borrow from it... more, when I have got further...

Here is a depressingly and unmistakable good girl, sitting at the back of the classroom of IX, at the top of Wimbledon High School Preparatory Department, in about 1962. Goodness knows what I am writing: Miss Clayton - a peculiarly fussy and crabby woman - is peering over my shoulder to try and see, so I expect that I am forming my neat italic letters very carefully for her. Even though it's not obligatory, I see I'm wearing school uniform (to be honest, I always found the idea of uniform easier than tussling with free expression when it came to clothing). In front of me is Lucy Garrard, who really was a good girl and startlingly conformist; then Deborah Howard, who was good at math; Joanna Latimer, whom I always thought of as French, for some reason, and who is now Professor of Sociology at Cardiff (two future professors in one row seems a bit excessive); then Susan Coad - *no* idea what happened to her, and then Fenella Howard, with whom I sometimes used to ride (though she patronized the rival stables). All of us are wearing our Startright sandals, tucked neatly under our desks; and there are very Educational Posters on the walls - springtime, and British port life, and something that looks like elementary geology. We did spend a lot of time learning about The World Around Us. We were also, I am sure, being taught to be Good, by the standards of bringing up young girls, at the time "between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles' first LP."

No comments:

Post a Comment