I was reading End of Term recently, and got thinking about whether AF's account of who precisely can tell Niccola and Lawrie apart stands up to scrutiny (aside entirely from the implausibility of their mother not being able to find the merest freckle, mole or scar to distinguish the unconscious Lawrie from Nicola in The Marlows and the Traitor.) There are lots of indications, not surprisingly, that members of staff and other Kingscote girls who don't know them that well can't tell them apart throughout the series. What interested me more in End of Term was the extent to which their siblings and close friends and classmates can or can't distinguish them.
When Lawrie and Nicola switch for the netball match after Lawrie bruises her leg, they sleep in one another's beds, and Ginty and Ann don't spot the ruse in the morning when Lawrie (as Nicola) pretends to be ill, though Nick at least seems to have a moment of tension when she's afraid Ann will realise - but both twins seem to be able to presume that neither of their sisters will see through the switch, or presumably they would have known in advance it would never have worked. Nick walks in to the gym, and Miranda, her best friend, likewise thinks she's Lawrie until she's told otherwise. Yet when they go in to breakfast Tim knows immediately Nick isn't Lawrie, and we're told she 'had never had the least difficulty in telling them apart'. From Nicola remembering what Peter once told her about how Lawrie always hitched at her stockings and Nick put her hands in her pockets, presumably he can tell them apart too (despite seeing an awful lot less of them than their sisters)? It's unclear whether Jan Scott has guessed before Lois guesses 'Lawrie' is really Nick, while watching her play brilliantly in the netball match, but it emerges that the outcast Marie Dobson has guessed, based simply on the way in which Nick bumped into her and apologised in the gym doorway earlier that day.
Is it plausible that siblings who share a room with the twins would be taken in by an identical twin switch, basing their interpretation of who was who entirely on situation stuff like who was in which bed/wearing which games kit etc? Is Ann just too honest and straightforward to suspect, and Ginty too self-absorbed, and we are to assume that the redoubtable Rowan would have seen through it in a millisecond, even if all concerned were wearing identical school uniform?
Are there ever any indications that any of the other Marlows can't tell the twins apart? Why has Tim never had any difficulty telling them apart, yet observant, intelligent Miranda is fooled initially, when Marie Dobson isn't? (Just that Tim has known both twins since the start of their schooldays, and is Lawrie's best friend, while Miranda only becomes Nick's close friend at the start of End of Term? Or has Marie's outcast status sharpened her powers of observation when it comes to pranks she's being left out of? She's sharp and sly enough to check Nicola's hat name tag to confirm her suspicions.) Esther is a new girl at the start of End of Term, and very diffident, but there is never the slightest reference to her checking that she's talking to Nick, rather than Lawrie, in the way that, say, Jess Geddes does when they find the hawk carving in the Minster.
Anyway, just wondered what anyone else's thoughts were. Is it plausible that even siblings' recognition of identical twins might depend heavily on context (that is Nick's bed, therefore the person in it is Nick)..?