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."
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...