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you fill me with inertia

Instead of politics-related misery or Sweet Valley madness, I present a few cultural things that are cheering me up in this time of international woe:

The Chalet School at War. I think I prefer the CS books which are set in Britain to the ones set in Austria and Switzerland. There are much fewer chapters devoted to hugely boring descriptions of mountain outings/quaint alpine customs/people falling off glaciers etc. Whenever I read the words "the school set off bright and early to catch the train to Oberammagau" or anything along those lines, my eyes glaze over. And besides, I have a strange fascination with books written just before, during and after the war (Persephone are very good at providing that sort of thing), so I particularly like the wartime CS books. And what's not to love about the freakish Highland Twins, who arrive at school "in full highland dress" - including sporrans? Wonderful stuff.

Coronation Street. What? It's fantastic! I can't believe I wasted years watching EastEnders when I should have been watching the magnificent Corrie. I watched it regularly back in the late '80s/early '90s (I'd seen it in other people's houses before that, but my parents never watched any soaps), and then moved over to EastEnders when I was in college, mostly because I could lie on the couch on Sunday afternoons and watch the omnibus while I gathered my strength for carousing during the week to come. But, having caught the odd episode here and there over the years - I always knew who all the characters were - earlier this year I started watching Corrie again, and I just love it. It's OTT and super-soapy, but the writing - particularly the comic writing - is wonderful. The funny bits are sometimes utterly - and more importantly, intentionally hilarious, and there's a fantastic air of eccentricity about the whole thing. And then there are the pantomime villains, Cilla and Maya...oh, I just love it.

Peter Cook/Spigot's song from the original version of Bedazzled. The programme on Radio 4 this morning about Peter Cook prompted me to seek out and download it. I had it on tape years ago, and for a long time it was a staple of my compilation-tape making, but I lost at some time over the years. Now it's back! Hurrah!


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:11 am (UTC)
Are the CS books young adult fiction stuff?
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC)
No, not at all - they're vintage school-stories. They were written from the '20s to the '50s, and were enormously popular in their heyday (which lasted a very long time - virtually all my friends and I read them when we were kids in the '80s). They're bizarrely entertaining, and often unintentionally hilarious!
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:24 am (UTC)
How.Wonderful. I must find some somewhere!
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:37 am (UTC)
They might be hard to find in North America - I don't think they were ever really published on your side of the Atlantic, and they're all out of print over here - but you could definitely find a few of the more common titles online. Do it! Join the CS cult!
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:45 am (UTC)
Abebooks.com has a good few of the commoner titles for a few dollars in both Canada and the US, though they're dirt cheap in the UK and you could probably get a job lot shipped from one seller for next to nothing.

I'm nothing if not a school-story enabler.
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC)
i suspect i'm going to be seeing an awful lot of coronation street over the next week and a half.

(but happily, last time i did that, i had a brief but productive conversation with my parents about julie bindel and transphobia!)
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:24 am (UTC)
Hee, really? Actually, the woman who plays Hayley wrote a lovely letter to the Guardian after Julie Bindel's horrible piece. She didn't mention that she played a trans character in a big soap - or even that she was an actor - which somehow made the letter seem even more genuinely angry.
Nov. 5th, 2004 06:28 am (UTC)
yes, my letter was printed right next to hers. this formed the basis of the conversation with my parents!
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)
I also tend to skip the tedious descriptions of beautiful scenery after the first couple of books. Especially in the Swiss books, it's all the same anyway.

New girl has hard time walking.
Someone tells her to bend her knees.
Reach top of mountain.
Someone says "I will lift mine eyes up to the hills".
New girl is well on her way to being a true Chalet girl.
Echoes (bells optional)
Near Death Experience.
Hot chocolate.

The city expeditions aren't so bad, but nothing is as good as the description of them going round the Bourneville factory. I went to an NCC AGM at Cadbury World, which was fabulous. THe British ones seem to have more happening somehow.
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
I don't remember the Bourneville factory bit! Which one was that?

And yes, the formula really was tedious. Especially the near-death experiences. The CS's insurance rates must have been sky-high - they couldn't leave the school grounds without someone being knocked unconscious or breaking a leg or something.

Heavens, I just looked in my draft folder and realised that I never sent the e-mail I wrote thanking you for Princess of the CS! It actually arrived about a day after you sent it, and it was what kicked off my current CS-reading.
Nov. 5th, 2004 08:03 am (UTC)
It's in Changes, I think. Peggy and co and prefects, and it's one of their half term expedition thingys. Glad Princess arrived safely.

But at least they were damaging their students in three languages! S'what counts.
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
You forgot the bit where someone notices the queer sourish glacier smell and then they get too hot and aren't allowed to take their blazers off. Why didn't they all get heatstroke? They never seem to drink very much. Only milk tasting of onions and goatherds sometimes, if my memory serves me aright.
However, the advantage of being up a mountain is the inherent incompatability of hillwalking with acting in nativity plays. Or indeed pantomimes. I would much rather have Mary Lou falling off a mountain than Joey gently mopping her streaming eyes and falling off her chair at some feeble bit of stage business.
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC)
However, the advantage of being up a mountain is the inherent incompatability of hillwalking with acting in nativity plays. Or indeed pantomimes.

Well, indeed. One has always hoped that EBD didn't actually write any hilarious amateur theatricals to inflict on people who weren't able to skim over them.
Nov. 5th, 2004 08:00 am (UTC)
Urgh, I bet she did. No doubt her chums "laughed till they cried" in the manner of the CS staff. Although they may have been laughing at EBD rather than with her....
Nov. 5th, 2004 08:06 am (UTC)
IIRC, she wrote plays for the Margaret Roper School that she was headmistress of, and I think one or two were recycled for use in the CS.

I think that she should have known more about acting. She wrote Gerry Goes to School for Hazel Bainbridge, who was from an acting family, or an actor herself, I can't remember which.
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:59 am (UTC)
I would much rather have Mary Lou falling off a mountain than Joey gently mopping her streaming eyes and falling off her chair at some feeble bit of stage business.

Hee, I suppose I would too! God, those dreadful plays. And EBD would always devote pages and pages to them. She really had no sense of humour at all, didn't she?
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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