August 6th, 2006

stopping for supplies

Question re: British secondary school system

Say there's a boy, born and raised in the U.S., whose dad has a lot of money and decides to send him overseas for school in a place like, say, Harrow. Our boy is very intelligent, but basically mentally unbalanced from an emotionally abusive family, harboring a huge grudge against his dad for having shipped him off to England to (in his opinion) get rid of him, and at this point, he doesn't really feel like following the rules or respecting his teachers, etc. etc... My question is:

Barring massive bribery, would it be possible for him to be a total delinquent (skipping class regularly, doing hard drugs, drinking in class, possibly swearing at instructors) and yet still get out of school with a good record?

A friend of mine once assured me all of the above was possible -- I was inclined to believe him because a) he'd gone to Harrow [I think; or it may have been some other similar school?], b) he was a terrible student, and c) he'd somehow managed to get accepted to several very selective American universities. His explanation was that the grades system there was such that your classwork really didn't matter -- so the fact that he was a terrible student was all cancelled out in the end by the fact that he was a spectacular test-taker. Confirm/deny, anyone?

Also, details remain unclear -- are grades decided by end of the year tests? end of term tests? Is this the case throughout school, or only for A-levels, which are pretty mysterious to me anyway but at least have a wiki entry? Tangentially, what level of respect is usually given to instructors? How formal are boys with each other during class? vs. outside of class? Do school-conferred positions of authority hold outside of class? What activities do they usually do in their spare time? How are classes scheduled? Are there curfews? Is housing similar to university/college housing in America (i.e., dormitories, common rooms, etc.)? Do they have restrictions placed on their internet, leisure time, etc?

Much love for anyone who can answer any of these questions. I will be pestering aforementioned friend if I get a chance, but I'm no longer in close contact with him, so even supposing I can get a hold of him, I'd rather not start up strange conversations out of the blue.

--

eta: Thanks much for all the responses so far... they've been very, very helpful. ♥
  • jlohse

What Were Cowboy Boots Originally Called?

Before cowboy boots were called "cowboy" boots, what was the name of that style of boot?
There are different styles of hat from the same era and location, even ties, and I'm certain boots. Women had differing styles of boots as well as men. It was considered a fine thing to own, a shiny new pair of boots in the old West. Anyone know names of boot styles from the period and location?
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    artistic
Behemoth (Master&Margarita)

Hearing gunshots from inside a building

My character is trapped in a rather imposing and nasty prison (modelled on the Don Jail, so think lots of stone and cement and no windows). The nice folks outside are having a bit of a party in his honour, which involves attacking the guards on the premises with an impressive array of firearms (whatever they can find, ranging from antiquated pistols to machine guns), launching flares into the sky, and generally being raucous. Their intent is to eventually release all of the prisoners inside, but first they want to draw a lot of attention to themselves and create as much chaos as humanly possible so that everyone can escape into an anonymous crowd. I'm thinking of about ten to twenty people showing up at a time, shooting, and then running away.

Would he be able to hear any of the festivities from inside the cell?

Could a chandelier fall in a fire?

I have a scene where a mansion is up in flames. A crystal chandelier plummets and smashes on the marble below. Is this totally outlandish? It's set in a fantasy time period around the late 1600's. I love the scene, though. Any info?

Edited to add: Thanks so much for the fascinating information! I just had a ding! moment. Besides being on fire, the mansion could be shaken by an earthquake. All this destruction is the result of a nearby volcano. I've heard of quite a few earthquakes knocking down chandeliers. Ah, the sweet sound of shattering crystal.... 

Thanks!
Karen
elegant lady

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The scenario is the interior of a cottage, night, time period...eh we'll say medievalish not in any particular area of the world you could pin down. From the ceiling hangs a very simple sort of oil lamp with a chain affair hanging from a hook. Our character simply wants to get it down to refill it as it is running low. I am picturing a sort of apparatus with a hook on the end of it that one can use to just reach up with, hook onto the chain and lift said lamp off to place on a nearby table for refill. Now the difficult question is...what could you call this? Does such a thing exist in real life? the term lamphook seems to more fit the actual thing one would hang a lamp from.

EDIT: much obliged my friends...I think I will just keep it simple. I appreciate your input and the links! ^_^
writing

need a Russian word

I'm writing a novel that includes a character who is given a mare who is difficult. This scene takes place in Russia, and what I need is the Russian word for "difficult," referring to a person.

Thanks!


Edited to add: I went with Trudnaya. Thanks everyone! Just FYI, this is for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel called The Deathless, which will be out next spring....