8 April 1994

Dear Friend of the Chalet School,

My name is Ju Gosling, and as a fellow member of FOCS I am writing to introduce myself in advance of the Hereford weekend. I am a student at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and I am researching the reasons why girls' school stories have been so popular throughout the century for a PhD in Communication and Image Studies. I began this research in 1992, after spending three years studying the Chalet School for a part-time MA by Independent Study in the field of Cultural Studies at the Polytechnic of East London. My MA thesis, which I am happy to lend out if anyone is interested (although I should warn you that it is 50,000 words long), is entitled A WORLD OF GIRLS - SCHOOLGIRL FICTION: GENRE, FEMININITY AND THE CHALET SCHOOL.

In my professional life (I have no grant so am continuing to work alongside my research) I am a freelance journalist, specialising in social and public affairs. (I should stress that I do not write about people's personal or private affairs, nor have I ever had a complaint made against me by an interviewee.) As I have previously worked in documentaries ("No Home for Barry" for Channel 4's Cutting Edge and the "Breadline Britain in the 1990s" series for ITV) and also work professionally as a photographer, I am using my journalistic experience to record part of my research on video.

The resulting video clips will be combined with my thesis to form an audio-visual presentation for educational purposes. (If anyone is interested I can let you have more details.) I may also show the video part of this presentation - available privately to Friends of the Chalet School for the cost of the tape by early 1995 - at a few festivals.

Naturally the Hereford weekend will form the centrepiece of this video, which is the main reason why I am writing to you. I hope that you will not object to being filmed as part of a crowd, but if you do please let me know (either in advance or when you see me) so that I can avoid you. I am also looking for volunteers who will agree to be interviewed about the reasons why they read and love the series.

I would therefore be grateful if you could let me know if you are happy to talk on camera about, for example: your childhood memories of the Chalet School series; when you started collecting the books; the part the series plays in your life today; your favourite books and characters (or your least favourite); whether you have been been on holidays or day trips to Chalet School locations; why you joined the FOCS and what you like most about the society; why you have come to Hereford and what you are enjoying most about it . . . Or in other words, the sorts of things written about in the FOCS newsletter.

I will then arrange to interview up to 15 of you during the weekend, using the different events as background. I will also film the exhibition, talk, quiz etc from the vantage point of the same volunteers, ensuring continuity for the film and privacy for all those not involved. I hope to conduct interviews during the following times, so it would be helpful if you could let me know which slot you prefer, as well as which you could do if necessary.

Friday:

* As dinner ends, using it as background. This needs to be with someone from Castle Pool as they will not have to rush for the coach. For non-drinkers!

Saturday:

* 11.20am in the city centre, probably outside Elinor's church. This would suit someone who knows the city and doesn't want to look round again.

* 12.15pm on the back seat of the coach. This is a group slot for two-four friends.

* 2pm in a bookshop in Hay. This would suit someone who knows Hay well and doesn't want to look round again.

* 4pm on the back seat of the coach. This is a group slot for two-four friends.

* As dinner ends, using it as background. This needs to be with someone from Belmont Abbey as they will not have to rush for the coach. For non-drinkers!

Sunday:

* AM: If anyone is not going to a church service but has to rush away in the afternoon I would prefer to interview them at this point.

* PM: If anyone can stay behind after the afternoon activities because they live fairly close by I would prefer to interview them at this point.

Please contact me as soon as possible at the address overleaf if you would like to take part. I will be at home throughout 9 and 10 April, and can be telephoned (I will call you straight back) at any time between 9am and 9pm. I should also be there for most of the time from 11-14 April. I am happy to supply further details of my research and my professional career, and to answer any questions you may have about the filming.

Looking forward to seeing you all at Hereford.

Yours sincerely,

Ju Gosling
Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just 3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for 20 inc UK postage and packing. Book cover