Friday, 17 October 2008

Volume 2 Chapter Outline and Blog Updates

I have just discovered that the links to the dress discipline bulletin-board I have been discussing for the last few posts no longer work; I guess it has been taken down. Therefore I have removed the links from my posts but have left my discussion in place.
Yesterday night I went back over the previous two posts to this one and added a series of illustrative images - so it might well be worth looking back. Incidentally the photo at the top of the last article came from my collection of scans taken from New Uniform Girls and dates to the late 1990s (probably sometime between 1997 and 1998 but let me know if you know different) as do those on this page. I couldn't resist posting more of this series. There are many reasons but one is because it is so different from the usual schoolgirl attire depicted (yes it is basically a gymslip - but the cross-over style of its bodice is what makes it interesting) and therefore eminently suitable for the purposes of those message board correspondents I've been banging on about. Then there is the unusual colour scheme, with the girl wearing a maroon blouse, highly conspicuous and therefore attention drawing - this particular shot I find exceptionally exciting; it is the way she is tinkering with her hair and her deliciously glum expression. One is driven to the impression that perhaps only a short while ago those locks had been much longer - I would hope that we are seeing an intermediate stage here and that she is shortly to be summoned back to the hairdresser's chair, having had the bulk of the length dealt with, to complete its metamorphose to the regulation style. In fact, despite the lack of overt evidence of haircutting in the photograph nevertheless it is one of the images that helped form my interest in the imposition of regulation hairstyles as part of a disciplinary regime. Ordinarily hair styling is a personal thing, it reflects a girl's whole personality -that freedom is an element that can be taken away, and to devastating effect.

From that statement one might imagine that one of the earliest procedures that a girl might undergo upon entering the hospital psychiatric unit’s clinical trial section outlined in INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 would be to receive the regulation institutional hairstyle. But it is because of that very effect that, as we see with Susan in volume 1, it is not imposed until a substantial amount of time has already passed in isolated incarceration and after having passed through many other stages of depersonalisation - it is kept back as the final straw to break the camel’s back as it were. Immediately afterwards and before she can regain any semblance of equilibrium she experiences the kiss of the cane for the first time; that too has been held back upon. And of course it all has the desired affect - she signs what she is given to sign, agrees to continue on with, to even restart and extend in actual fact, her tenure as a psychiatric clinical trial subject; and this despite the fact that she is already fast approaching the end of her originally agreed period of stay.

Similarly with diet and exercise; to exercise or not, to gain weight or two lose weight, these are all choices taken for granted - but that element of control too can be taken away as a certain character learns in volume 2.

Now just to go back to that uniform again: I think that the school badge is a nice addition but it should always be properly embroidered directly onto the fabric, never sewn on as a patch and definitely not attached, as here, pinned on like a brooch (it shows good styling and attention to detail – such care can only serve to underline the importance placed on discipline).

Today it's being a bit difficult to concentrate - my head is itching like mad where I have received my transplanted grafts. Nevertheless I am going to be working on a chapter of INSTITUTIONALISED volume 2 that I have provisionally entitled Police, Camera, Action (a bit cheesy I know - but I am sure it will come to be called something else by the time it is published). This chapter has been a sticking point for some time now and if I get past this (and a little part of the introductory section) the thing will be pretty much complete as a book.

Basically, the premise is this: rumours have been abounding, missing persons have been reported, ethical concerns have been raised and, worse, apparently the police have been called in and, in their wake, the dreaded ethics committee. One of our young ladies finds herself placed in a standard hospital examination gown, whisked into the hospital proper she is hurriedly shoved back into her home clothes whereupon she is handed into the protective custody of two female police officers - having first been warned to say nothing about her time in the unit. She is questioned and then taken to be interviewed, in their company, by a panel made up of three elderly male psychiatrists: obviously her ordeal is over - but first they wish to ascertain her suitability and reliability as a witness and to assess whether she has been damaged in any way by her experience.

On the surface it all seems a happy resolution to her story, but is it all as it seems? The questions are probing - and she doesn't seem to have all of the answers. She has been told to say nothing by the unit’s matron - but what hold can that woman have over at her now; surely she is free of her? Then there is that door at the back of the room, the door through which the three doctors arrived … she is not restrained in any way, she is free now, but she feels afraid, uncomfortable with all the questioning - should she just dash past them, through that door and out into the sunlight beyond and presumably the waiting arms of the press?
And finally: It has come to my attention that the link to Art by Carlo no longer works (the site has been taken down). I have therefore removed the link until I can relocate the site.

No comments: