Jennings and Darbyshire

by Harry on July 23, 2006

In response to my post about William and Nicholas fatwhiteduke confessed that he (and I bet he is a he) still cannot bring himself to admit that William is better than Jennings. During a rather long period of my childhood I would beg my dad to take me on Saturdays to the bookshop in Aylesbury so that I could browse the Jennings books, waiting till I had saved enough pocket money to buy the next one. I think I read them all, which I still have not done with William. The Jennings books occasionally go out of print, unlike the Williams. Several have recently been reprinted, and are available in the States here and here (UK here and here).

I recognize that William is, in some sense, superior, but never had the relationship with William that I did with Jennings. (I actually had a friend in secondary school who resembled Jennings a good deal in both looks and surface personality, and who, interestingly given the influence of Wodehouse on Buckeridge, reveled in the name of Mulliner – any information on his whereabouts welcome, because google is bloody useless when your target shares the name of a world famous croquet player). I suspect that my and fatwhiteduke’s fondness of Jennings is partly a response to authorial intention. Crompton wanted to make adults laugh, and entertaining children was an unexpected side benefit; Buckeridge clearly adored children and wanted to engage and amuse them. The stories offer a great deal to adults, but the world is created for the child reader. Although the boys are the heroes, the world is controlled by adults, who (unlike the adults in William who are being pretty mercilessly satirised) have the best interests of the boys in their charge always in focus. The reason we became so enamoured with boarding school life without ever wanting to go to one is because the Linbury Court staff are like a composite ideal parent, the boys have enough freedom really to enjoy themselves, but not enough ever to be in real danger, and when all their plans go wrong (as it often does), while they are terrified of the consequences, the reader knows that kindness will prevail.

[click to continue…]

But what if you meet a man?

by Eszter Hargittai on July 23, 2006

Interesting anecdote in the comments to this post over at Science + Professor + Woman = Me. This is a conversation between the commenter and her chair, a man, about getting the signature for two graduate students to join her lab.

    Chair: I’m not sure that I can sign off on your being the advisor for these students.

    Me [Pam]: Excuse me? (Background: two new federally-funded three-yr grants, each with a doctoral stipend available for a student)

    Chair: Well, how do I know you are not going to meet a man and run off and be with him?

    (I kid you not, he said that).

    Me: You don’t. But how do I know that you aren’t going to meet a man and run off with him, and abandon the department?

    (He didn’t think it was funny – but he signed the forms.)