Monday, March 29, 2010

Tulips for Augusta - Discussion Thread

Betty Keira challenged me to talk about the subject of letting 6 children roam the countryside at will. Yes, I have six kids, but in this day and age you just can't do that (darn it). When Dr. van der Stevejinck was going to school my oldest two did have the roam of the neighborhood - and they were roughly quarry boy's age. There were about half a dozen boys that were around the same age as my oldest, and they ran around in a pack...basically they migrated from one boy's house to another - as soon as the mother of the house couldn't take the noise anymore she'd send them to the next house on the block. It was awesome...sort of like an informal all day play date. We moms did have some general rules about how far away they were allowed to go - that kept them within about a two block area. Lucky for me there weren't any quarries there. My son did go further afield one day - and it resulted in the cops being called. I know you're shocked. I didn't find out until a day or two later when the incident was in the local paper. I wish I still had the clipping because it was awesome. Here's the gist:
David (eldest son, age 6ish) went to the park with his 5 year old friend. As they were playing, my son (being a little know-it-all) told the younger kid all about the gun they were playing with. (A GUN!!! Betty Debbie, your son was playing with a GUN!?!). Nameless friend runs over to the pay phone that was right by the play equipment, dials 911 and tells the dispatcher that his friend is playing with a gun. Police come right over, assess the situation and send the boys home. Turns out my son was playing with a "gun" - but that was because the park was "Battery Park" and the "gun" was one of those large decommissioned WWII guns that someone looked at and said, "Children through the ages must be allowed to play on that!" [Betty Keira] Fabulous story. I let my own 9-year-old roam the neighborhood greenspace at will. There are no abandoned quarries but plenty of frogs and snakes to catch (ew). It is the heritage of every child to have as much of a Huck Finn childhood as is safe-ish-ly possible, I say. [Betty Debbie] I agree with you. It's a shame that today's parents have such conflicting advice given to them: "Children need to be outside playing - it's healthy" but then: "Stranger/Danger", "Safety First"...What it seems to boil down to is that we end up with way too many helicopter parents - hovering (or hoovering, heh heh) over their children and not allowing them any freedom to be Huck Finn-ish.

MYTHBUSTERS! Augusta slides down into the quarry to rescue a little boy and a dog...notices the broken clavicle, takes her shirt off and rips a strip off the bottom to make a splint or a sling. It's not that I doubt it (too much), but it would be fairly difficult to get a long enough strip of cloth to be of much use. I put some thought into this! Augusta could use one of those sharp flints (the ones that ripped up the seat of her pants) to saw into the edge, then she could tear - but I'm thinking it would be difficult to get past the side seams. Have you ever tried to rip a strip off the bottom of a shirt? On a side note, I love that Augusta wishes that she had a long petticoat like on T.V. Westerns.

At one point in Tulips for Augusta Augusta goes swimming in the Serpentine. I have walked along there, and let me tell you - wouldn't happen. Ew. Yes, it's lovely and all that, but there are an awful lot of waterfowl paddling about...which is a problem with some of the urban lakes around here (near Seattle). Sure you can swim in it - but then you're likely as not to have a bad case of swimmer's itch. Just sayin'... I've known children to swim in water that bracken but she's a public health worker and ought to know better--And now I'm thinking of Avian Flu...

"Constantijn was making himself agreeable to the warden, an elderly Teutonic lady with a Wagnerian manner and a heart of gold concealed beneath a massive bosom. She looked up as Augusta crossed the hall and said in an English she had never quite mastered, 'She is here-you will now go away and be content." Augusta is embarrassed and says, "Oh, Valky!" Constantijn asks, "Why walky?" Was this just in my edition or is there a difference in pronunciation? My omnibus version has "Why Valky?"

Augusta has a nursing stint on the P.P. ward - when talking to Lady Belway - as a change of subject she says, "And now, how about an egg-nog with a hint of brandy, since you didn't enjoy your supper." Egg-nog with brandy? Granted, this book was published in 1971 - but still, brandy? Brandy offered by the nurse, not snuck in under Susan's midi. Weird. Especially weird when you consider that one of the private patients is an alcoholic.

Bottle Stalls. Not the first or last time that we'll run across jumbles sales that have a "bottle stall". Is it sort of a lottery thing? You buy tickets for a set price and for 20P you might score a bottle of scotch or a bottle of sauce (I'm imagining something like ketchup or catsup)? Help me out here. What is the fatal fascination with bottle stalls?

I'm deliberately not bringing up Augusta's nicknames. I thought they deserve a post all their own. Stay tuned. This afternoon. I promise. Can't wait!