Posted on 16.05.14 By Charlie Pickering

What is a period?

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This educational film from the 60s deals with a very practical question: how do you teach a young girl with the significant learning difficulties associated with Down Syndrome everything she is going to need to know about going through puberty?

Admittedly, until I saw this clip, I had never given it any thought, despite the fact that it is an entirely predictable and reasonable question. I also admit that as I initially watched it, I felt the baseline level of guilt you would feel associated with voyeuristically watching something that has nothing to do with you.

But the longer I watched it, the longer I came to marvel at everyone involved. From the health department that commissioned it, to the writers and the actors – they have all done their job so professionally as to be worthy of accolade.

Every working actor has their ‘weirdest job’ story. I’m not an actor by trade, but I once had to pretend to have phone sex with real phone sex operators while the conversations being transcribed for the purposes of a large commercial litigation. It was the phone sex equivalent of wearing a wire. And while I have no doubt that for the actors in this video, ‘What is a period?’ was probably their weirdest job story, I’m sure this came with an unmatched satisfaction of doing something genuinely worthwhile. I’m not sure I can say the same of my simulated telephone liaisons.

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