Wednesday, July 20, 2016

COMPUTERS IN NEELSDOM – Another Betty Myth – Busted

I do love it when Betties do my work for me. Betty Anonymous sent me this email and it's a fantastic illustration of how some of these tropes we associate with The Great Betty are not grounded in perfect evidence. Enjoy!: 

The topic came up in a comment in the facebook group, months ago: "I always know a later book when computers are mentioned, only in passing though"
Only in passing? Do we tend to remember only the times where the heroine has no idea how to work with a computer, and then continue to paint all the heroines with the same brush?
There are, in actual fact, FOUR heroines who do know a thing or two about computers.
I had read one of their stories, A Kiss for Julie, a couple of months earlier, so after reading that comment, I just had to go and investigate, and came up with three more computer knowledgeable Neels heroines.
 
— The Betty Computer Novel— ;o)Computers are mentioned 15 times in the novel. From the first chapter to the last, Julie Beckworth thumps away on the keyboard.
 
A bad start, reflected Julie, thumping the computer with unnecessary force.
[...]
Someone had brought her bag and computer up to the room; she unpacked what she would need and put the computer on the solid little table by the window. She still had half an hour's typing to do. The professor, being the man he was, would probably ask for it the moment he saw her in the morning.
 
AN IDEAL WIFE, © 1998, heroine: Louisa Howarth
Would she need her typewriter or computer? Surely he would have all that at his own practice? She supposed she would have to ask him. She dismissed these troublesome details from her head and picked up the phone; there were Sir James’s clinics and ward rounds to sort out at the various hospitals he visited.
 
 
MATILDA’S WEDDING, © 2000, heroine: Matilda Paige
When she had left school she had taken a course in shorthand and typing, learned how to use a computer and simple bookkeeping. She had never had the chance to use these skills, for her mother had needed her at home, but now, several years later, she was glad that she would be able to augment her father’s pension.
 
 
A CHRISTMAS ROMANCE, © 2001, heroine: Theodosia Chapman
She had no special qualifications; she could type and take shorthand, cope adequately with a word processor and a computer and could be relied upon, but none of these added up to much.
 
 
Computers are mentioned in, at least, 26 novels, mostly in passing.

My favourite passage:
A VALENTINE FOR DAISY
There was nothing; at least, there was plenty of work for anyone who understood computers and the like and there were several pigpersons wanted, for pig breeding flourished in her part of the world.
 
Heart you Betty!
 
HIS
THE AWAKENED HEART, © 1993
There was a computer, too, an electric typewriter and an answering machine all arranged on a smaller table under the two long windows. 'I have a secretary who comes three or four times a week and sees to my letters.' He flipped over the pile of correspondence on his desk. 'Let us go upstairs.'
 
THE FORTUNES OF FRANCESCA, © 1996
His study was a comfortable room lined with bookshelves, with a fire burning in the small fireplace and a desk loaded with papers, a computer, telephone and reference books. He sat down behind it with a sigh of pleasure.
 
AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN, © 2001
This was a small, comfortably furnished room, with rows of bookshelves, a massive desk, a chair behind it and two smaller ones each side of the small fireplace. Under the window was a table with a computer and a pile of papers and books.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wait For Me!--Perilous Finances

Continuing the series from Deborah Mitford's memoir "Wait For Me!" which is chalk-full of Neels-ness. This one is about making do with not much:

"We all knew that if Muv had been in charge of our family finances everything might have been different. As it was, she had to juggle with what she was given and somehow remain solvent; intuition took her in the right direction and she never overspent. She was the one who put down roots and became part of the place where she lived, and it was she who bore the brunt of my father's extravagances and unlucky investments.
Muv told me that had she had to earn her living she would have been happy as the woman at the caisse in a Paris restaurant, usually a formidable female dressed in black who sat enclosed in a raised glass cage above the tables and collected the cash from the diners' bills. The nearest Muv go to her ambition was to be County Treasurer of the Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes. When she was totting up at the end of the year, a few pence out caused her major anxiety and we knew to keep out of her way."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rocky Shoals of Political Dischord

As ever, we paddle away from them like mad. Enjoy this MadLibs to help you through the madness:


Friday, June 10, 2016

Wait For Me!--Nanny

"...hymn-singing and prayers at bedtime. Nanny's real name was Laura Dicks.  Her father was a blacksmith...How she got the nicknames 'Blor' or 'm'Hinket' I do not remember. In 1910, when my mother interviewed her, she was thirty-nine and not robust, and it seemed doubtful whether she could push the pram up the hill from Victoria Road to the park, laden with heavy toddlers...She arrived to stay for more than forty years.
Like my mother, Nanny was always there, unchanging, steady, dependable--the ideal background for a child...always scrupulously fair.
Her clothes were those of her profession: grey coat and skirt, black hat and shoes and, in the summer, a quiet cotton dress with a white collar.
She did not criticize us much, neither did she praise...We would have become impossibly pleased with ourselves had we been indulged with such a thing (self-esteem). As it was, our ups and downs were high and low enough, and Nanny sat on any ups.
Nanny's own holiday was the worst moment of the year...We never considered Blor's own life...she was so much part of the family that she was not consulted about moves or anything else that might affect her. She just came with us. Long after her role in the nursery was over, she remained a vital part of the household, washing, ironing, sewing and darning; just her being there meant the world to me and my sisters."

Deborah Mitford, "Wait For Me!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wait For Me!--Cared For Clothes

This sounds awfully like some of the better mothers in The Canon:

"(Mother) like my father, she had blonde hair and blue eyes, and her fine, regular features were a softer version of his. Totally without vanity, she did not seem to care what she looked like in everyday life, but when dressed up for an occasion she outshone her contemporaries. She loved clothes but possessed few and must have one the same ones for years. I remember individual coats, skirts, and dresses and an occasional evening dress; they were always original and exactly right for her. She was selfless to a rare degree and lived for her husband, her children and her small circle of friends, many of them family. High on the list of people she minded about were those who worked for her. She belonged to a generation of women who were brought up to accept their husbands' decisions and to make the best of their circumstances. "For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer," were widely accepted conditions of marriage then."

--Deborah Mitford, "Wait For Me!"

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Wait For Me!--The Lady

I picked up Deborah Mitford (Cavendish), The Duchess of Devonshire's autobiography "Wait For Me!" last week and I am struck over and over again by the little touches of Neelsism throughout her story. Perhaps it is because the women covered a similar time period (1920-2014).
Here's a little bit from her wiki page:
She married Lord Andrew Cavendish, younger son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, in 1941. When Cavendish's older brother, William, Marquess of Hartington, was killed in action in 1944, Cavendish became heir to the dukedom and began to use the courtesy title Marquess of Hartington. In 1950, on the death of his father, the Marquess of Hartington became the 11th Duke of Devonshire.[1]
The Duchess was the main public face of Chatsworth for many decades. She wrote several books about Chatsworth, and played a key role in the restoration of the house, the enhancement of the garden and the development of commercial activities such as Chatsworth Farm Shop (which is on a quite different scale from most farm shops, as it employs a hundred people); Chatsworth's other retail and catering operations; and assorted offshoots such as Chatsworth Food, which sells luxury foodstuffs carrying her signature; and Chatsworth Design, which sells image rights to items and designs from the Chatsworth collections. Recognising the commercial imperatives of running a stately home, she took a very active role and was known to man the Chatsworth House ticket office herself.

Manning the ticket office! 
Anyway, I thought it would be fun if I did a running series of posts here and there of portions of the book where the Neels-ishness spills over and has to be posted. Here's the first:
"Grandfather Bowles gave my father a job in the office of The Lady, the magazine he had founded in 1885 specifically for women and which is still famous today for its classified columns advertising for domestic and other help..."
She goes on to tell how her grandfather fell in love with his children's nanny (Tello) but that she had had an affair with a man which produced a child.
"Tello went out of the children's lives for some years after they returned to England. Then one day my mother was walking down Sloane Street when she saw, to her joy, Tello accompanied by four little boys in sailor suits. It transpired that the eldest was the son of the naval officr in Alexandria, but the next three were sired by Grandfather and were my mother's half-brothers. He had forgiven Tello her peccadillo, set her up in a house in London and made her editor of The Lady, a position she held for many years (including those when (Father) was managing director of the magazine). My mother always wondered why he had not married her but guessed it would have been because of the eldest boy. Tello and Muv (Mother) took up their friendship where they had left off..."