May 11, 2013
me+ME:  St Trinian's
1. St Trinian's
About ME/CFS


Still paying back my walk of over two weeks ago, so I am still not feeling very well.

But I've been considerably worse, and decided to continue the humor theme I introduced yesterday, as a way to keep being read.

1. St Trinian's

I did not know that
Ronald Searle died in 2011, but then he got to be 91. Searle is the designer of St Trinian's School (for girls), and was also a survivor of the Japanese comcentation camps.

St Trinian's I know of since the 1950ies, though I do not know a precise date. But it was quite popular then, even though - and indeed in part because - of its awfulness.

To illustrate the latter, here is the latest front of the latest Penguin edition:

Caption: 'Fair play, St Trinian's - use a clean needle!'

In fact, I took the caption from the edition I owe, The St Trinian's Story, which is from 1961 in Penguin, and originally by Perpetua, 1959. That is in black and white, and it is my guess I like it better than the Modern Classics one.

Then again I haven't seen that
Modern Classics one - which is e.g. unlikely to have the De Luxe paper of my edition, for one thing, that is quite nice.

The above picture is a fairly mild one, comparatively, but it does give the atmosphere, that must have had a lot to do with Searle's experiences in the camps.

As Wikipedia relates about St Trinian:
(..) pupils are wicked and often well armed, and mayhem is rife. The schoolmistresses are also disreputable. Cartoons often showed dead bodies of girls who had been murdered with pitchforks or succumbed to violent team sports, sometimes with vultures circling; girls drank, gambled and smoked.
Clearly, for a boy of circa eight, without sisters, like I was, this was quite interesting, and apart from that the degree of violence was rather extreme, as is somewhat clear from St Trinian's School Song:
Maidens of St Trinian's,
Gird your armour on.
Grab the nearest weapon;
Never mind which one.
The battle's to the strongest;
Might is always right.
Trample on the weakest;
Glory in their plight.
St Trinian's! St Trinian's!
Our battle cry.
St Trinian's! St Trinian's!
Will never die.
Stride towards your fortune,
Boldly on your way,
Never once forgetting
There's one born every day.
Let our motto be broadcast:
'Get your blow in first!'
She who draws the sword last
Always comes off worst.
(Shout) St Trinian's!
           St Trinian's! etc.
But you'll have to see more of the drawings to get the point.

Actually, I am mostly interested in the awfulness, about one aspect of which Siriol Hugh-Jones wrote in 1959 in
The St Trinian's Story:
St Trinian's is English womanhood - plain, imprisoned, disguised according to Regulation Uniform Lists as trolls, demons, scarecrows, and underprivileged gargoyles - against the world.
(p. 22)

Note also this was all quite popular: in the 1950ies there were two movies, mostly with the same crew, followed by two more in 1960 and 1966.

The reason for the relatiive extremity of his drawings must be especially the combination of Searle's fine draughtmanship and the harshness they nearly all showed, that was also depicted without any regret or remorse.

At least part of the harshmess is due, I think, to his camp experiences:
Another of Searle's fellow prisoners later recounted, "If you can imagine something that weighs six stone or so [37 kg - MM], is on the point of death and has no qualities of the human condition that aren’t revolting, calmly lying there with a pencil and a scrap of paper, drawing, you have some idea of the difference of temperament that this man had from the ordinary human being." [2]
Searle himself is quoted to this effect, about a book of his war pictures:
"You can’t have that sort of experience without it directing the rest of your life. I think that’s why I never really left my prison cell, because it gave me my measuring stick for the rest of my life... Basically all the people we loved and knew and grew up with simply became fertiliser for the nearest bamboo."
So... while the St Trinian's drawings are also quite funny, and while the actual horrors they depict, although mostly cruel, were widely laughed about, there is underneath a bitterness that is true to life - except that most persons cannot get it.

I certainly did not, when I was 8, and certainly cannot get it as Searle did, but I now can get some of it, in my 35th year of illness without help.

Here, to end this brief disquisition, is Searle himself on his subject:
[A St Trinian's girl] would be sadistic, cunning, dissolute, crooked, sordid, lacking morals of any sort and capable of any excess. She would also be well-spoken, even well-mannered and polite. Sardonic, witty and very amusing. She would be good company. In short: typically human and, despite everything, endearing. [3]
Much recommended!

[1] Words by Sidney Gillat, copied from Wikipedia, but reset here to be in accordance with the version that appears in The St Trinian's Story, p. 49
[2] From Wikipedia, Ronald Searle. (The "six stone" is also what my father weighed, at one point, during the war, except that he was in a German concentration-camp, not in a Japanese.)
[3] Quoted from "Ronald Searle & the St Trinian's cartoons"

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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