Am I right that in RAH, Patrick has been dragged to interview at Broomhill and tutors have been suggested, but nothing is confirmed other than the plan to sit his O-levels that June, which will be the same time as Ginty?
Will he still be 16, or turned 17 by then?
Prior to that, he was at his hated London day school from some time after Falconer's Lure to December in Attic Term, so is that one year and a term, or two? I think it's two and a term, so he would have been just turned fourteen and entering third year mid-year? (UIV, as Kingscote and my school would have it)
Presumably he was at a boarding school before that? Would he have been at a prep and then a Catholic boarding school for one year age 13?
Meanwhile, Dartmouth for Peter has the problem of not existing by RAH - is there any mention of Peter doing O-levels there? I'd like to think they push him towards science and practical qualifications and generally not being on their boats, just designing them Somewhere Else. I'm assuming he's then one year behind Ginty and one ahead of the twins, education-wise.
I don't recall either of their birthdays, but have an impression Peter's is spring and Patrick's summer - anyone know?
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( A Falcon Mantling )
Ginty, of course I see as facebook (and similar) obsessed, on her phone all the time.
Lawrie perhaps following actors/actresses she admires on Twitter?
Ann competant and a surprisingly enthusiastic user of social media.
Karen, having left University before the web, found it hard to get back into academic work, as she lacked the necessary on-line research skills.
Anthony Merrick becomes an early adopter of all things web-based, one of the first MPs to tweet reguarly, and Chairing parliamentary committees about social media. Some are surprised at this, but he explains that his theological position does not make him a Luddite. He is also an anti-pornography campaigner, much to Helena's emabarrassment.
Patrick held out until not having an email address made functionning in the adult world very difficult, but has never read one of Anthony Merrick MP's tweets on principle.
At school ...
Jan didn't join the class of 19xx leavers facebook page set up by Val ...
The consquences of sexting are immediate expulsion, but it takes a while for the staff to believe that such a thing could happen, let alone at Kingscote. That is as far as I care to go down that street - but others may be braver!
A couple of extracts:
Complementary with this ideal of a Jesuit contribution to English Christian humanism was an attachment to an English Catholic past, hazily and romantically conceived, and an addiction to the English Catholic gentry. He took innocent pleasure in an 11 foot long genealogical table, written in 1617 and illuminated with numerous coats of arms and two coronets, which allegedly traced his family back to the Norman conquest.
In 1945 D'Arcy left Oxford to become provincial of the English Jesuit province. He formed imaginative plans for influencing the life of a country newly restored to peace, though his term of office is sometimes best remembered for his proclivity towards purchasing old houses with Catholic associations. Unfortunately he neglected the routine paperwork of administration, preferring to achieve results by personal contact...
The last twenty-six years of D'Arcy's life were something of a protracted dark night. He was out of sympathy with post-war Oxford and England. He saw no merit in the type of analytical philosophy then in the ascendant; the changes in the liturgy and theology of his church left him with a sense of betrayal.
I am sure that Anthony Merrick must have known him.
Loved it! Funny, witty, not as intense as some of the earlier school books, and lots of great comic/psychological moments in best AF style.
However was (unintentionally) very amused by the way nobody in their families refers to the relationship (it's clearly a boyfriend:girlfriend relationship by now) between Patrick and Ginty. I would have thought in most families Ginty's siblings would have teased her mercilessly...but the Marlows don't say ANYTHING. Nor do the two sets of parents. Patrick's mother, in his presence, tells a third person that she pities the person who marries Ginty - rather bizarre, given that Ginty is basically Patrick's girlfriend. But although everybody KNOWS nobody SAYS. Even Lawrie the tactless. The only exception I can think of is when Peter makes a couple of oblique teases to Ginty in the Ready Made Family "And who with as if we didn't know" but that is it. And Ferguson does ask Nicola obliquely if the parents approve of the "friendship" but again it's all very veiled.
Is it because they are just terribly polite and English that nobody says anything?
I guess so because in order to discuss what the buttoned-up Marlows and Merricks won't AF introduces Claudie, the amoral French au pair. She is quite prepared to ask all about Patrick's sex life (and wonder at the lack of it). Really I guess Claudie is as much of a stereotype as the amoral French girls who turn up in Enid Blyton school stories (one of them was called Claudine too) though you can never feel reading them that AF's characters are stereotypes.
Is this really how English families were at that time? Just can't believe it - even of the Marlows.
Or, for that matter, what would Nicola - or Patrick, or any of the others - have thought?
I should add that I'm asking this as an interested outsider who watched most of it and is eagerly awaiting discussion, but probably doesn't know enough to be able to actually contribute much.
Patrick's romantic life provides a lot of scope for speculation. The canon only provides Ginty, Claudie, and Nicola. I'll state up front that, of the three, Nicola is obviously the best match, in my opinion. Claudie is a non-starter, and unless Ginty gets a massive dose of maturity or Patrick goes off the deep end, we can rule Ginty out.
On the other hand, I see other possibilities. First Rowan, for all that there's an age difference. They certainly interact well together at the Nativity play in End of Term. And I can see each providing the other with something each lacks - a romanticism that would be a nice break from Rowan's constant level-headedness, and a practicality that might help Patrick go somewhere in life.
The other, surprisingly enough, is Ann. She is the only religious Marlow, and surely between low church Anglican and conservative Roman Catholic they could find some common ground. With the Anglican communion having its own turmoil, Ann might decide she doesn't want a woman vicar or blessings of same-sex unions. One suspects that Antonia Forest would have found today's religious landscape very interesting (and would have been very happy with the new Pope).
2. There seem to be so many more rules than ever before at school. I guess there must have been before, but somehow they just seem more prominent now. Nick and Miranda shopping for the play in End of Term didn't seem to involve nearly so much fuss as these shopping saturdays do - I know they were sent by a staff, but they seemed to be a lot more trusted then than later on.
3. What, exactly, were the millions of shopping party rules that they broke? OK, not telling Gina exactly where they were going - but surely girls didn't always know what shops they'd be in or what they'd be buying, specially as they were looking for things like birthday gifts, where they were undecided already about what to buy. Buying clothes? Did they know that was such an offence? they don't seem to have been aware at the time that they were breaking so many rules. Buying things for others? Well they were gifts, so was that really a problem? I know that it led to others finding Changegear, and doing illegal things like swapping clothes or getting Day Girls to provide things to swap. But what was so wrong about what Nick and Miranda did that day?
4. And why the sudden emphasis on Day Girls? Just a plot device? Or were they there all along and just not mentioned as much. Or perhaps schools by the time Attic Term was written did have a lot more day girls. (and a lot more rules!).
5. Miranda's Jewishness being such a problem at school Xmas events. (not just Attic term, but also End of Term). Why do they all care so much? I know that sometimes Jewish girls objected to being made to participate in Christian events, and fair enough, but she seems to want to do it, and is never allowed - not because her family would object, but because other people would, a feeling that it's somehow not proper/respectful etc of her to being doing it. That way around is something that seems less common, with everyone somehow worrying that someone else woudl object, but we never actually see anyone who finds it a problem. Is anyone really offended? Maybe people like Ann?
6. Patrick really does seem to be in love in Ginty at times. I tend to think of him as mostly just fancying her because she's there and she is so obviously keen on him - but that's probably because I know how it ends up. At the time, he seems quite keen on her, too, wishing she'd phone, wishing he could magic her there to be with him, etc. When he and Claudie are discussing sex, and he says he is innocent, and she gives him a long look - he then says 'no' - is she offering? I tend to read it like she is, but then sometimes I think she is just somehow questioning the fact that he doesn't want it. I don't really understand/like Patrick so much in this book. The whole crying at classical music, and just lots of other interactions, don't seem realistic to me, somehow.
For example, a page or two before the end of chapter 10 is the following passage:
Being anything but reckless, Ginty had meant to let at least two weeks go by before phoning Patrick again: and then, on the Monday evening, listening to the other four deciding to play ping-pong in the gym and mentally preparing a plausible Cat-That-Walked withdrawal, remembered that Patrick's O-levels began tomorrow: she ought - she must - phone and wish him luck.
Following that we have half-term which is when Miranda and Tim write the short Christmas carol for Nick to sing etc. Patrick has his half-term the week after Kingscote, and then along comes Chaper 13 and the fateful Maths O-level paper debacle. The chapter starts:
In the summer term, the sitting of O- and A-levels was something of an occasion: Miss Keith announced their commencement during Assembly and wished the candidates well on behalf of the school. But in the winter term, when a mere handful of unfortunates was at risk, the event was hardly mentioned, and it was only because Ginty was sitting-in on the Tutorial fifth's Latin revision that she knew when O-levels would make their delayed start as soon as Patrick did. Telephoning him that evening, she found him depressed and edgy.
Why is Patrick 'starting' his O-levels twice like that?
Patrick said suddenly, "Oh dear. I do wish it was six years from now."
"Six years?" said Nicola, who sometimes wished it was this time next week, but had never looked that far ahead.
"Yes. Well. In six years, I'll have finished school, I'll have done National Service, and if Dad's still M.P. I can come back here and look after things. And then Jon and I can keep hawkes properly.
pg 52/53 GGB edition
That made me wonder about how AF changed things to suit the times, yet retained some things that were already 'canon' despite them being 'out of time'.
For example, when the red uniforms came back in, the book they were mentioned in was written *past* the time rationing finished in the early 1950s in Real Life? That was Falconer's Lure as well, but haven't reached that bit in the book, yet. I know the book is set in 1948, and clothes rationing ended in 1949...but the book was written/published in 1955.
What I'm leading up to here is... will Patrick do his National Service, despite that going out before potential later books would have been written, and presumably set? Especially since it had already been mentioned that he was going to do it? Or would AF have just ignored that?
Has anybody noticed a curious thing about the books, that while the Marlows themselves are spectacularly fecund, just about every other major character - Patrick, Tim, Miranda, Esther….is an only child?
I’ve been wondering for a bit if this is more than coincidence….it seems to me that AF (who is on record as saying she began the Marlow stories very much with publication in mind) made sure to choose both a genre (school story) and a type of family (large, naval, adventurous, anglican) that were both acceptable and recognisable in terms of current children’s fiction. When Tim describes the various Marlow sisters at the start of AT, you can almost see how AF was thinking, setting them up: Kay scholarly, Rowan good at games, Ginty a bit wild but with good stuff in her etc etc…the “types” that inhabit so many school stories. Giles and Commander Marlow, of course, are both fine, upstanding naval types, and Mrs Marlow is a typically clichéd docile mother (IMOshe gets more interesting/complex in subsequent books).
However, as we all know, AF’s books are NOT simply genre school stories, and it seems to me that one way she made them more complex was by introducing characters who in some manner diverge from the mainstream and so tend to present rather different perspectives/values. So we have Patrick (Catholic) and Miranda (Jewish) and Esther (divorced parents) who all of them at various times present slightly unusual slants on accepted conventions/values, and certainly contrast strongly with the more conventional Marlows. And then there is Tim (artistic father, well-travelled) who tends to subvert and undermine practically all established school girl story values. If you try to imagine Autumn Term without Tim it is just about impossible – never mind the plot, but you would end up with a far more conventional piece of boarding school fiction. (Whether, as reader, you actually like Tim is another matter entirely!)
These “onlys” all have something of the outsider about them, and so it is only fitting that they should be “only children” – used to standing alone. Of course, they all have a foot in mainstream too: Miranda and Patrick’s families are rich, Esther’s dad is a barrister, Tim is the headmistress’s niece! A bit like AF’s books themselves: on the one hand, genre stories about upperclass families, full of ponies, team games and squabbles in the guides…and yet as we all know there’s a whole lot more? Or (not for the first time )am I spinning a theory out of nowhere?
AF was also an only child, and I also can’t help wondering if any of them represent her or aspects of her charater. (Based only on obits) the top candidate would seem to be Miranda (Londoner, Reform Jewish but with some interest – expressed in End of Term – for Christianity) but then Patrick shares AF’s real name and Catholic views. And I believe both AF and Esther like gardening...
So good to find this site, full of other people who share a passions for the Marlows Fascinating that people have such very different responses. Never occurred to me that you could love the books but not Nicola, or that anyone actually liked Patrick Merrick….
So I’d like to ask opinions about something I find puzzling. All the obits/biogs say Antonia Forest was such a strong catholic, and yet why (to my mind) are her noncatholic/nonreligious characters so much more appealing? And her catholic characters so strongly unappealing. Mme Orly is a nightmare –fun to read about, but a nightmare – and then there’s Patrick… I suppose he is the major example. To me he always seems both arrogant and a prig, and his religious certainties always seemed a big part of this. He is just way too certain of himself and his beliefs.
Some examples: In conversation with Rowan, he states that of course he never has any difficulties at all in believing in God (End of Term). Nicola, following a conversation with him, reflects that she hopes her ancestors were genuine believers in Protestantism, as anything else would seem so inferior to the Merricks, with their acceptance of possible martyrdom. (interesting: she seems to detect in his religion a kind of dynastic superiority rather than a personal spirituality!) In the same conversation Patrick makes clear that he sees the whole of English history through a Catholic prism – completely writing off the Tudors and the Restoration, and stating that of course his family supported Charles not ‘Orrible Oliver during the Civil War. (And more fool them, as Oliver Cromwell’s regime was notable for its toleration towards Catholics – far more so than after the Restoration.) Patrick’s certainties (religious, social, intellectual) are not even much shaken up by his long talk with Jukie (Thuggery Affair) although he does at least find Jukie’s DIY theology baffling, rather than amusing (as we are told would usually be the case). Is such cast-iron certainty/superiority really an attractive feature in someone who is only fifteen/sixteen? Wouldn’t you want to shoot him for such smugness!
Most tellingly, I can’t think of any notable example of kindness or generosity by Patrick, religiously inspired or not. Quite the opposite, in the whole betrayal of Nicola for Ginty -which makes it all the more annoying she is just delighted to get him back!) (Oops – I suppose Patrick’s willingness to help Jukie – at some personal risk – is an example here. However, Jukie dies and the incident seems to have no lasting effect upon Patrick at all.)
ALSO I can’t help noticing that AF herself chooses for her main characters people who are both open-minded and reflective and generally of no strong religious conviction at all. (Does this mean she likes them best? Or she thinks they are more appealing to readers? )In End of Term, Nicola is both thoughtful and intrigued by the different religious beliefs she encounters, almost sociologically observant, but very far from expressing any particular belief herself. This makes Nicola a lot more appealing in my eyes…she is also generally a kinder person than Patrick, and far more reflective about herself and her own behaviour. For that matter, Lawrie (who states that she thought Christianity was some sort of mythology, like the Olympians, and even tries to make bargains with God) is a lot more appealing than Ann (full of conventional religious piety).
Then there’s Nicholas and Will (Player’s Boy/Rebels). AF’s Will is surely one of her most appealing characters: wise, ironic, shrewd, detached…and he has no interest in supporting the Old Religion. Furthermore, he believes Nicholas is right to betray the Essex plotters regardless of the fact that some of them are hoping to restore the Catholic faith. (He and Nicholas’s scruples and regrets about this are to do with personal loyalties/friendships, not religion.)
This isn't a report, but it is a description of some of the cut bits of Run Away Home that we were given in a booklet at the conference. There was a discussion on Sunday of whether the cuts were a good thing, which I haven't gone into much - perhaps people can add to this in the comments. We aren’t allowed to quote from the unpublished bits directly, but I think it’s OK if I describe briefly what was included. The plan is to publish them with the papers from the conference.
( Cut for - is spoilers the right word? And something upsetting. )
I wonder whether Helena Merrick, being a rather pragmatic Catholic (see Patrick's remark about fish on fridays in Attic Term, for example), was secretly using some form of contraception. Or perhaps they were playing Vatican Roulette and were just lucky...
I guess from AF's point of view, Patrick needs to be an only to contrast with the Marlows; and maybe he also represents her: she was also an only child.