Derk as Mad Scientist / Chrestomanci as Parasite(was: Buffy)

Michelle Thomas michellet at
Tue May 21 10:52:19 EDT 2002

Have you seen Gosford Park?  And the Edwardian Country House on Channel 4?
Yes, the servants did form a community, but lower servants were not even
supposed to speak to upper servants, and male servants were not allowed to
have any physical contact with female servants.  I'm sure they did get
around these rules, but they were still living at the whim of their masters.

A ladies maid would be up to get her mistress up and dressed work all day
and stay up until she came in from whatever dinner or ball she had attended,
with no lie-down in the afternoon... and if the young master kissed the
governess and got caught, the governess would get the sack with no
references.  I agree with you about the governesses - paid female companions
had a pretty poor life too.


> Domestic service needn't be like that.  There are still people who work as
> domestic servants, albeit not as many as in days gone by.  They have benefited
> from the general improvement in working conditions throughout the 20th century
> just as everyone else has.  Their benefits are not the same as other workers',
> but why should they be?  (Apparently domestic service, of the traditional
> live-in variety, is nowadays very well-paid).
> As for isolation, in the 19th century, where houses had large numbers of
> servants, the servants' hall was a community in itself, almost a village.  It
> was probably no more isolated than a small farming village in a remote area.
> Less, I think, because most servants could escape to the local pub
> occasionally.
> It seems to me the really isolated person in the 19th century domestic set-up
> is
> the governess.  She is an employee, but not a servant.  She cannot socialise
> with her employers, because an employee just doesn't.  But she cannot
> socialise
> with the servants, because anyone who would join that social group is
> obviously
> of too low a social class to bring up her employers' children.  So she is
> _really_ isolated - her only social contacts are with the children she works
> with.  Not surprising all the stories (I won't evaluate accuracy!) of affairs
> between governesses and teenage boys in the household...

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