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"Ungrateful and impudent, that's what they are.  The Chalet School has been doing just fine for the past forty years and there is no need to overturn all our standards and morals for some sort of modern fad. It's ludicrous!  If Hilda and Jean and Bill and Matey were still here we wouldn't have to deal with sort of, of, absurdity!  It's less influence from modern society we need, not more!"

Cecilia shut the door of her room with a wince, blocking out most of the noise from her mother's phone tirade to Auntie Madge.  Her mother tended towards the dramatically flamboyant in her reactions at the best of times. This time it was underpined by a real sense of anger and betrayal.  The first official notice describing the board's decisions and asking for input from the parents had been sent shortly before the end of the term, and Joey hadn't been impressed, to say the least.

Daphne gave her a sympathetic grimace.  "Auntie Jo isn't happy, is she?"

"That's an understatement. You'd think that they'd proposed torturing babies or something, rather than the occasional dance and some new hobbies."

"Are you going to tell her about your part in it?"

"Not if I can help it. I'd like a relaxing Christmas, thank-you very much. At least, as relaxing as it can be with our mob."


The Chalet School had been Joey's emotional home and pseudo-family from the age of twelve, and it did not seem to have occured to her that it must move with the times.  Joey's naturally conservative nature had always hated change, and she had been disturbed when several of the longest serving members of the school had left.  Matron Lloyd had taken a well deserved retirement three years ago and had moved to be closer to her sister's family in England. The next year the Dennys had retired to a home in the south of France: Miss Denny's rheumatism had been growing steadily worse, making her demanding teaching load impossible.

The following year had seen the retirement of Miss Lachenais after a badly broken leg in a climbing accident.  She had moved back to Paris to be near family while she recuperated, and had decided not to return to the school.  Frau Mieders had retired at the same time, moving to stay with her daughter and son in law. Bill had provided the biggest surprise of that year when she married a long time friend, an English professor who was retiring from teaching to write a book.  The two had retired to a villa in Italy. Finally, this past year Miss Annersley, who had been head of the school since the Tyrol days, had retired, passing the reins to Miss Ferrars. With Hilda's retirement the school had lost the last person who had personally taught Joey as a schoolgirl, and she felt it keenly.  While two of her old school friends remained at the school (Rosalie Dene as secretary, and Nancy Wilmot as the head of the maths department), the old girls who had been hired since were contemporaries of her children, rather than her.

Joey's books were still very popular among the younger girls, but Joey herself produced mixed reactions. In the close community of the Platz she had maintained the style and mannerisms of thirty years before, including her signature coiled plaits and fringe, and revelled in the opportunity to play Wife of the Sanatorium Director, First Pupil of the Chalet School and Lady Opener.  She had been feeling rather at loose ends this year, with her youngest two now in full time boarding school, and with Miss Ferrars and the younger staff less inclined to stop and chat during the school day than their predecessors had been.


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