Candia: You think it would be useful?
Brassica: Well, a lot of people have come in on the action
mid-plot, so-yes- why not offer them a synopsis?
Candia: Okay- they can skip it if they have been following
since Snod’s story took off.
Here it is, folks:
SYNOPSIS: Snod’s Law
Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master and Acting Head of St Birinus’ Middle School
is ripe for retirement. He loves comfort food, the Model Railway Club and Latin.
He is a role model for Junior Masters, but a bête noire for other staff.
For his entire life, he has taken for granted that he was the product of a liaison
between socialite and erstwhile Land Girl, Berenice Snodbury, and an itinerant
rug seller from the Bosphorous. Berenice’s sister, Augusta, took on
responsibility for the child when her sister ran off to Venezuela, following
romantic dreams inspired by her hero, Simon Bolivar.
His lonely, institutionalised existence is interrupted by a climactic revelation
that an affair which he conducted with the ‘lax’ (lacrosse) mistress of a
sister establishment many moons ago engendered a child. That ‘child’ is now
a Housemistress at St Vitus’ School for the Academically-Gifted Girl, the school
in which her mother originally taught. (In fact, Gus has unwittingly met his
daughter on a number of occasions, at joint educational functions.)
The reason that his relationship broke down was owing to a Hardyean
twist of fate. A missing communication which contained his marriage
proposal now re-surfaces during re-furbishment for a school let. Diana,
the retired lax mistress, is exposed as having been deceitful.
She married ‘on the re-bound’, foisting her child on Murgatroyd-Syylk,
picture dealer and restorer. The pair subsequently divorced and now
Syylk is completing a restoration project of a Pele Tower in the Borders.
Drusilla, the Housemistress, attempts to encourage her parents to meet.
Will their romance re-ignite? Initially, it is a damp squib.
On Berenice’s death, a mysterious package arrives at school. It contains
a signet ring which Augustus’ apparent half-brother was asked to send
over to England. It bears an insignia associated with Wyvern Mote, now a
National Trust property.
Drusilla and Gus visit Great-Aunt Augusta and take her out of Snodland
Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry for the day, partly to introduce her
to her great-niece, and partly to investigate Wyvern Mote. There they see
a photograph in the schoolroom of two of the original heirs, with their tutor,
Anthony Revelly. The facial resemblance is clear: Gus is his offspring; Revelly
his father, rather than Lord Wyvern.
Lady Wyvern had had the child by her sons’ tutor on the death of her
husband. The tutor was permitted to live in a grace-and-favour apartment
in the stable block, for life, when the property was handed over to The
Berenice, who had been a Land Girl in the vicinity, had been paid an
undisclosed sum to acknowledge the child as being her own. A good time
girl, Berenice had tired of the responsibility, eventually absconding and
leaving her sister to arrange his schooling at St Birinus. Augusta had
once been Head Girl of St Vitus’, so knew of the boys’ prep school
establishment and its reputation.
Now Hugo, in Venezuela, has to be disabused of his belief in his
relationship to Gus. They decide to leave Aunt Augusta in the dark.
The latter gave her ‘great-niece’ a present of what resembles one
of the famous missing Faberge eggs. It turns out to be a fake and
yet, Dru’s visit to her step-father in the Pele Tower makes up for her
disappointment, as she is promised a communion chalice which Bonnie
Prince Charlie used before his fateful final ride south, on Syylk’s decease.
(The Pele Tower turns out to have been in Lady Wyvern’s family in the
past, so there is a neat circularity about Drusilla’s future inheritance of
the restored property, as Murgatroyd’s sole heiress.
The Head Teacher of St Birinus’ had an unfortunate ‘turn’ at the Christmas
Eve Midnight Service and was diagnosed with hypogonadism. His mid-life
crisis leads to him taking time off in order to make a motorcycle trip across
The Sahara, much to his wife’s relief. Unfortunately, Gus has to ‘stand in’,
but when his previous boss decides to abdicate, he does not apply for the
permanent post. Nevertheless, a position of Deputy Head is created for him,
in order to boost his pension. Poskett, Milford-Haven and Drusilla Fotheringay-
Syylk apply for the Headship, but are unsuccessful. Will the latter two decide
to throw over their careers and try to make a musical success of their lives
Drusilla has shone in various musical concerts, by playing her harp for both
schools. She has been the focus of attention from Nigel Milford-Haven, the
rather wimpish Junior Master who is beginning to sing solo tenor in some
school productions and Geoffrey Poskett, Choirmaster. She seems to favour
Nigel, since she has asked him to come to the Borders with her in the school
holidays, to stage a concert for clarsach and voice.
She hopes to raise money for Murgatroyd’s roof repairs. Nigel is nervous, as
his mother usually draws on his decorating expertise in the school holidays
and she is not going to be too pleased at his bid for independence.
Meanwhile ‘Snod’ has settled into a friendly relationship with Diana, the mother
of his child, who has sold her cottage and moved back to the Suttonford area,
in which both schools are situated. However, his attention has been attracted
to Virginia Fisher-Giles, the widowed seamed-stocking-wearing PA. An invitation
for coffee chez elle after she has run him to a Head Teachers’ Conference turns
out to be more intimate than either anticipated.
Will he succumb to a projection of future domesticity with Virginia? Will he
resurrect the corpse of his relationship with Diana, or will he continue his
‘Inkling’ existence of bachelor bliss?
The lure of retirement is like an ever-receding pot of gold. He has a year
or two to serve as Deputy Head under the new regime. Will he be able to
preserve the old ways, or will the introduction of a new system create a
tsunami of bureaucracy that will threaten to engulf him?