15 November 2012

How the socially undesirable gain acceptance in Blytonia

Yep, I managed to disappear again. Well done me. I’m full of those damn good intentions, in that I prop my copy of Blyton on my desk (where it will shame me for not writing up the next chapter) and SWEAR that I will write it TONIGHT … then decide at 10pm that I really couldn’t do the chapter justice and I really should watch the next episode of the latest K-Drama I’m hooked on. Life is tough when there’s K-Drama about …

So anyway, I left you on something of a cliff hanger last time, what with the dreaded school meeting coming up and everything. This meeting IS the entire chapter. And I can tell you – I would never send my precious spawn (should they one day exist) within ten miles of this hell-hole.

So, it’s a school run by children – and what do they do? Adopt the trappings of their lost grown ups (three teachers sit up the back during this thrilling chapter, but “did not seem to be taking a great deal of notice of what was going on.” Of course not – why do the job you’re paid to do if you can get minions to do it for free?). Two judges (merry-eyed William and grave-looking Rita – William sounds like a bit of a smarmy git, just from that description), a bunch of monitors (we’ve met them before), and a gavel (because you can’t be an official without a wooden hammer – I like to think it’s a meat tenderizer nicked from the kitchen …). To be honest, it’s one conch shell away from a desert island.

 And they have RULES! You HAVE to obey the monitors (with no explanation as to the limits of their power and what they can order you to do), and all bad behaviour is reported and dealt with at these meetings – trial by mob. OH! But wait – reporting any person is encouraged with these words:

“Please be sure you understand the difference between a real complaint and telling tales, because telling tales is also punished”

I’m not sure I understand the difference. Given the casual acceptance of institutionalised bullying and violence, how do you suppose a whistle blower would fare in that environment? This place sends shivers down my spine – SHIVERS I tell you!

On another note – Elizabeth is an ovine-minded moron. The girl doesn’t talk, she bleats! Take this little gem, for instance: there’s a sign up for the meeting which says “Bring all the money you have” (I’ll get to this little rort in a moment), and Elizabeth does! She tells herself that she won’t hand it over, of course, but then why take it at all? The girl is just plain dumb. Seriously, you take your money somewhere where you know it’s going to be taken? Good grief, I want to send the idiot an email telling her that I‘m a Nigerian prince. Although, she might not go for that particular line … all foreigners being evil and all.

As for the rort – well here’s where we get to the fun bit – and the title
of this post. It turns out that this place is not a school, it’s an
extortion racket. All the kids are forced to put all their money into a box and it gets doled back out to them in set pocket money. A tad commie for comrade Enid there, but it’s ostensibly and egalitarian idea. Until you learn that no-one seems to be responsible for the accounting of this slush … er trust account. I bet merry-eyed William gets his grubby little paws all over the dosh and gets his ciggies and gin on these proceeds of extortion.

And you remember fat Ruth – of course you do, her main character trait is that she’s fat (remember, this is Blyton – and in this book we also have Nora, who is Irish). Anyway, it struck me as odd that Blyton would allow such an obviously undesirable person to be part of the right minded majority – Enid being supremely superficial and all. In this chapter I figured it out. She volunteers to do the dirty work. Who volunteers to prod Elizabeth when she doesn’t stand up and sit down with the other lemmings? Ruth. When someone has to shake Elizabeth down for her money, guess who jumps at the chance to do the shaking down? You guessed it. “Nice” people don’t stop to scuffling over a few shillings – it’s undignified and vulgar – they just leave it to the eager underling who yearns for nothing so much as acceptance … AND they’d have to have some horrific physical deformity such as Ruth’s to be qualified to do the job. Ruth’s overwhelming subservience to the regime is what marks her as acceptable – she knows her place and doesn’t presume to aspire to the big table … but everyone needs a flunkey …

Anyway, Elizabeth refuses to hand over her cash (until Ruth forks her purse and dumps it by the box), and states that she thinks the idea is silly and will not be complying. Well, you can almost hear the chant of “kill the pig” starting up in the mob. Elizabeth also announces that she’s going to run away home, at which point her money is placed firmly beyond her reach into the slush fund – and she’s denied pocket money for the week. With, of course, the threat of further punishment to come. Because it can always get worse in Blytonia.

So now our heroine is trapped like Jonathon Harker in Dracula’s castle (guess what I’m reading right now) and is doomed to spend at least another chapter being stood over by the Boarding school Gestapo.

To be honest, I have to say I’m glad she stands her ground in public. It’s the first actual rebellion you see from the girl, and if she could just keep it up, I’d love her forever. Alas, I feel social conditioning coming on ...