In 1873, writer-to-be Angela Brazil started her education at Miss Knowles Select Ladies School in Preston, Lancs.
Angela was 4 years old. And that morning, while sitting on the knee of Miss Knowles The Younger, cheeky Angela leaned upwards and pulled out all the teacher's hairpins...
Miss Knowles The Younger was NOT amused. And Angela was promptly removed , both from teacher's lap AND Select Ladies School. She'd lasted exactly half a day.
I heard that tale years ago from a colleague...when I was teaching in London and the Head of our school was insistent we rid library shelves of both Enid Blyton and Angela Brazil.
I grew up with Blyton's Malory Towers. Malory T held 2 massive attractions: the fun of boarding school PLUS a Cornish setting ( Cornwall being scene of my family holidays AND thus my favourite place In The Entire World)
And I also loved Angela Brazil: what was better than snuggling in bed under a flowery pink "eiderdown"(!) with a Lakeland terrier fast asleep beside me....while I gorged a bag of peardrops...and also gorged the adventures of the intrepid " Monitress Merle"???
And frankly, whatever my London Head thought about Brazil ( I'm on the fence re Ms Blyton) I think Brazil accelerated girl's fiction ( and even possibly girls images) up some notches...by showing female strengths/weaknesses, bonds, friendships etc ....and just as Harry Potter "encouraged" boy's reading more recently, so did Angela B for girls of my generation...
SO on Wednesday, I visited the Little Theatre (Chester Theatre Club, see http://www.chestertheatreclub.co.uk/
) for Denise Deegan's " Daisy Pulls It Off", directed by Margaret Bennett.
AND it's a pastiche of all those other schoolstories....but it's gentle, generous and above all, it's fun. There's lots of "scrummies" " toppings" and " japes", there are gym slips, feasts in the Dorm...and there are Latin quotes and Hymns we can suddenly remember, with which we hum along (!)...AND there's a synchronised hockey match and an equally clever cliff top resue.
And as ever, there's superb characterisation: Mary Pemble ( stepping in last min as Headmistress and doing "an absolutely sterling job").... also the poisonous Doubleact: Zoe Lambrakis/Ali Cooper ( as Monica Smithers/Sybil Burlington...COULD those names be bettered?!) And of course, there's Sophie Lund...see snap above (as the wonderfully loyal Trixie Martin) and Fiona Wheatcroft, perfectly cast as Daisy, the Scholarship Girl who makes her mark and solves a Mystery...ALL Hugely enjoyable.
PS: Denise Deegan is a fairly local writer! She studied Stage Management at East 15 Acting School but now lives in Wales, is a member of NE Wales Mt Search/Rescue Team and is a Welsh Border Morris Dancer...