Joan Zilva





Part 4

Text Box: Surely they must have known that it was thanksgiving for the first harvest after arrival - in the States, anyway. 
Text Box: I was right on both counts!
Text Box: She had but, fortunately, at that time I didn’t know the contents.
Text Box: I presume I mean that he had hoped that I’d do better. 

I’m not a militant feminist, but I was right.  That remark would not (I hope) be made nowadays,  however well intentioned it was.
Text Box: And I remember nearly falling over as a result of skidding on the ice.
Text Box: When I first discovered this letter I was horrified.  My letters make clear how grateful I was, apart from seeming to contradict some of what Mrs B said. However, on further thought I can see how difficult it was to have a stranger in the nest and I suspect that she’d had a bad day too.  The irony is that later Dave and I had much more in common.  Then he was into very “feminine” girlfriends, but married someone I am great friends with.  Then he took no interest in my Guiding but was later a Scout leader, while I have had nothing to do with Guides since I left school.  I think that my replies in my later letter of October 12th  are valid - although I didn’t know the extent of the criticisms.  My parents must have been unhappy about it.
Text Box: Having reread my letters, I’m not sure which exams she’s referring to.
Text Box: This was an unjustified implied slur on my education in England.  When I got home I had to work hard to reach a level acceptable at a British university - not the other way around.  On arrival in Canada I was well ahead of them and was still 2 years younger than the rest of the class.  My letters suggest that I may have sought too “thorough knowledge” for exams, not too superficial.
I don’t think it was carelessness in exams (I’m usually considered obsessional).  Nobody has ever understood why I always  underperform in them, but I am not good at parroting facts and prefer to work things out.  Anyway, looking at it now, I didn’t do so badly then or in later life.  I had set myself very high goals.
I never have been, nor will be,  great at housework, but this, too, was a bit unfair.  Neither Dave (because he was a boy) nor Rosemary (because she was too young) were expected to help much.
So I was the problem at the Hays!  Nobody cottoned on.
Text Box: It’s true that I have always been reserved - partly due to my shyness and upbringing - although I have now learnt to hide it.  At home I was teased because, if asked what I had done when I had been out I said “lots of things”.  However I think that this was a bit unfair.

Text Box: My letters, and my later relationship with “the children” make this seem unlikely.  Betty (Dave’s wife) has told me that she never heard any criticism of me, although she thought that they found it difficult to understand me.  (She didn’t meet Dave until after Mrs B’s death). As teenagers go these days I was not a big problem - but that’s no excuse!  Dave and I seem to have got on pretty well although then we led different lives.  Now we have similar interests.
Text Box: We did have different ideas about clothes.  Partly I was rebelling about the Canadian girls’ obsession with them and with make-up, but also Mrs B liked frilly things.  I remember arriving back in England in something she had kindly bought  me for the occasion: my parents couldn’t wait until I got into something less fussy.
Text Box: This is very true.  It was the most difficult age for me to adapt .
Text Box: Not entirely true.  I had to make big adjustments when I got home too.
Text Box: 9 pm?
Text Box: These were a set of Aububon prints, some of which still hang on my walls.