...So I was at a baby shower this afternoon. (What a lame social ritual -- a party (unlike birthdays, anniversaries etc.) that is really about nothing deeper than the gifts). I hadn't been to a baby shower since I was about 8, but in this case I had married the parents and was pleased to be kept in the family loop, as it were. There were roughly 30 women ranging in age from teenagers to great grannies. Of course, being afflicted with Docmartinitis, a condition where all real life events somehow remind one of scenes in Doc Martin, (or it could just have been that I was bored out of my skull), I started comparing this baby shower with the one we see Bert give for Louisa in S4.
The kid at the shower today must have gotten (I do not exaggerate) 100 onesies. Some of the gift bags contained not one but 7 or 8 of them in different patterns and colours. Clothing predominated, but there were also a few toys including one stuffed monkey that looked very like the one given to Louisa, except that it was new and had both its eyes. What strikes me by comparison is how simple JH's entry to the world was. Perhaps Martin will prevail and he will end up a child of privilege, being put through St. Benedict's or someplace equally as expensive. When JH arrives, however, his creche is in a flat pack, he would have had no car seat were it not for Penhale, and he has no rocker or basinette at home. Instead we see him in A DRAWER! The gifts that Louisa is given -- a hand-me-down pram, a lot of hand-me-down junk at the shower, even Joan's gift of ONE onesie, not FIVE in co-ordinating colours on a string of interlocking hangers -- are making the point of simplicity.
Louisa, I suppose, is seen as "disadvantaged" at the shower by the other women in the village, because she has no husband. But there are many women in the village, eg. Mrs. Richards, Mrs. Lane etc. who may have had husbands at the time when their children were born, but do not enjoy that support any longer. Given that the position of head teacher in a village such as Port Wenn would be seen as fairly cushy employment (secure and well remunerated), I don't know what we are supposed to take from that shower scene, and the really quite pathetic gifts that Louisa is given by the other women. I do know one thing, she isn't enjoying herself at that shower, and it's not just because of the nasty things people are saying about Martin, it's about the way she is being caused to see herself. Are the other women of the village taking some sort of malicious pleasure in this, or are they being sincere in their sad gift-offerings, and in their offers of husbands-on-loan?
I think the women of Portwenn were being sincere and weren't necessarily taking pleasure in Louisa's situation. Except, as Louisa said, his eyes aren't too close together.
A million years ago when I was pregnant, I had two baby showers thrown for me. My husband and I were living in a small town about two hours from "home". We were broke. Really, really broke. Freaked out about the expense of a baby. Broke! I came home for a shower given by an old friend. Yes, it was all about the gifts (but who was I to say no?). I received lots of pretty baby stuff, silver spoons (literally), engraved cups, tons of onsies, etc. Back in the town where we lived, my co-workers, who also were seriously broke (no one there made more than a pittance), gave me a shower. The gifts almost all consisted of hand-me-downs. A highchair, used baby clothing, diapers, used crib sheets, a used rocking horse, hand-me-down maternity clothes, a cradle a co-worker made himself in his backyard woodshop.
To this day I have no idea where that silver spoon is, or the engraved cup. The onsies got used (having so many saved a lot of laundry). But the used highchair, sheets, clothes, maternity clothes, toys, etc. were used over and over and over. I have wonderful photos of my toddler daughter having fun on that used rocking horse. That rough, not-so-pretty, handmade cradle is in my attic awaiting a grandchild.
I guess my point is that oftentimes people who have little better understand what someone else who has little needs. They're more practical. I think Louisa understood that too. At that point, she thought she would be going it alone. Yeah, yeah, the monkey missing an eye was a bit much. But my response to her shower was obviously colored by my own experience. I think she was touched (except for the eyes too close together comment). Please don't kill off Bert.