Generation Wuss


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‘Generation Wuss?  What’s all that about? Brassie asked me as she tried

to decipher what I was studying in a newspaper borrowed from the rack

in Costamuchamoulah cafe’s complimentary reading material.

Oh, it’s just that American Psycho guy- you know, the writer Bret Easton

Ellis, sounding off in ‘Vanity Fair’ about those born post-1989.  He calls them

self-obsessed, narcissistic, over-sensitive…

That’s a bit harsh, surely?

Well, he does admit that he has expressed ‘huge generalities’ but he

thinks many are unable to accept constructive criticism and buy into a

currency of popularity, dealing mainly in brands, profiles and merely

rating social media presence.

Kids have always been slammed by previous generations, Brassie

remarked.  There has always been a divide between shiftless

layabouts and those with a developed work ethic.

Like the Prodigal Son, I declared.  But The Elder Brother wasn’t

congratulated on his mean attitude.  The workers in the vineyard

who turned up late, but did some work, were given the same

wages.  And the people of St Kilda received the same ration of gugas

and gannets, whatever they did.

However, I expect that if they had overslept on their straw mattresses

and plugged themselves into their i-pads, or whatever, when there was

a gannet gathering expedition taking place, their mums would soon have

emptied a cruse of fulmar oil over their heads, or slapped them with a

wind-dried puffin..

I have been known to precipitate action myself, but I only use water,

Brassie admitted.

If the Prodigal Son’s father hadn’t agreed to giving him his inheritance

so soon, perhaps his wastrel son wouldn’t have expended it all on

riotous living.  Maybe his father wanted him to make his own choices.

Yes, said Brassie, it’s always dangerous to let people make their own

mistakes and it does impinge on other people.  It’s hard to strike the


A typical dilemma of Biblical proportions, I agreed.  What do you think

of this topical poem I scribbled at five thirty this morning?

Let’s have a look, she sighed.


The Fatted Calf speaks:


No, the Golden Calf was a relation,

but nobody bows down, or worships me.

I’ve been a long time in the fattening,

unlike those who claim, I don’t eat that much,

but who keep piling on pound after pound-

or should I say minas, pims and bekahs?

I’ve been stuffed to the gunnels and force-fed

over a fairly lengthy period:

I’d say since about the time the boy left.

Every day his father filled my manger;

he’d talk to me while tears streamed down his cheeks.

The elder son, the one who was jealous,

thought he’d sink his teeth into me one day-

maybe as the main course at his wedding,

but none of the girls like his attitude.

He still has a mother to care for him,

though she keeps comfort eating all day long.

But my mater was sold off long ago

and my younger brother was sacrificed.

I’ve felt separation anxiety!


Apparently, he was living it up

on some all-expenses paid gap year.

Now his mamma regrets ever nagging:

Tidy your room. It looks like a pig sty!

The gossip is he’s had to take a job:

Trust Fund Kid is working as a swineherd.

The Bank of Dad is into overdraft.

He’s discovered he can’t make a silk purse

out of a sow’s ear. Enough is a trough.

He’s never going to bring home the bacon.

But at least his porcine companions

don’t wallow like humans in self-pity.


In our own ways, we’re confined to our stalls-

unless he swallows his pride and comes home.

Meanwhile I’m feeling about to explode.

The elder son is imprisoned too.

His father confines himself to the farm,

not going out in case his son should call.


You could say I’m being killed by kindness

and maybe the boy feels that he was too.

Lord knows, he was a party animal,

but we could all do with cheering up now.



Old Michaelmas Day 2


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The accompanying historic post:

Okay, okay, so I went out and did it!

I can see that, Carrie remarked, looking down at my nails with a

disapproving glance. You’ll need to make an appointment with

‘Beauty and The Beast’ to sort you out with acrylic falsies.

Not me.  I’ll just cut them down and file them.  I’m a hands-on kind of

girl and couldn’t bear to have lily white fronds for hands like a Lady of the

Lake, or a drowned Ophelia.  I used to have digits like this when I started

teaching, back in the days of the spirit reproductive Banda

machine!  Oh, the smell of methylated spirits!  It gives me quite a

Proustian flashback to the classrooms of the Seventies.  So poetic too-

spirit duplicators, or spirit masters.  Sounds like the muse of Yeats or

some such bard.

Yeah, agreed Carrie.  And if he’d copied his lines for Maud Gonne:

‘Tread softly for you tread on my dreams’ and left them out in the

sun, then posterity would never have had them.

How’s that? I asked, not normally so obtuse.

Because the ultraviolet light used to fade anything produced in that

antiquated way, so the aniline dye of the reproduced type would have

been ‘mauve gone’.

Very funny, I muttered.  I don’t like her taking over my comic role.

Vintage Banda Spirit Duplicator Fluid Motor Oil Tin Can - 1 Imperial Gallon

Anyway, you got in before the Devilish deadline, said Carrie, referring

to our prior conversation (see previous post).

I did.  All are safely stowed, like Polonius behind the arras.  Well,

at any rate, they are in the freezer.

Ah, you are an inspiration to us all, Candia.  And no doubt..

Yes, I did write a poem about it, I interrupted her.  Here!

And I flicked a Jackson Pollock-stained sheet of A4 across the table,

but its patterns were fruit juice thumbprints and nothing more


Carrie read it silently while I sipped my well-deserved coffee.


I’ve been told: poetry isn’t worth it

and neither is gathering blackberries.

It’s impossible to preserve Autumn,

or capture experience in a poem.

Yet I find one or two juicy morsels,

simmering away on my mental back burners.

Lately I have looked madder and madder.

Wood pigeons witter away suddenly.

I destroy a few spider artefacts,

thumb and finger poised; then quite dizzy,

I step back and squelch in a rabbit corpse.

Maybe it isn’t worth it after all.

Blood-red clots trail from the tail of my car,

to my front door and the hall becomes

a purple passage. My bag sags with gore.

Have I perpetrated a massacre?

I look as guilty as a chamberlain

in a castle, somewhere near Dunsinane,

with my clothing liberally spattered

by inedible, indelible stains.

Fierce scratches indicate a struggle.  Heave!

I’ll shove this in the freezer and then think

what I’ll do with it.  I survey my hands.

All the perfumes of an airport will not..

What? Will all the multitudinous seas

incarnadine et cetera? They won’t.

I regret time spent on all this fieldwork-

to produce the definitive poem

on blackberrying.  Heaney, Plath did it.

I’ve spat out phrases not pithy enough;

I cannot find a rhyme to match ‘maggot

in a poem that isn’t about sex,

or the nostalgia of a butcher’s shop.

Gather ye brambles while ye may- that’s good,

but I could murder a cup of coffee.

Reviewers, like thorns, will rip me to shreds.

If pricked, I will bleed- through my gabardine.

Yet greed makes me garner all the pickings.

Lack of appreciation will sting me,

like all the nettles I had to wade through.

I’ve spent a King’s ransom on Vanish and

Dabitoff and Stain Devils; also on

opaque nail varnish, so I won’t have hands

like Lydia, that seller of purple,

or a sufferer of Porphyria.

My cuticles will not be underlined.

My children will rise up and call me sad,

for wearing magenta, indigo and

violet, when heliotrope is out.

Trying to sum up Mother Nature’s not

all it’s cracked up to be, like rotten cobs.

Ideas should be on a rolling boil,

if they are to come to a setting point.

Maybe then hues will glow through verse’s glass,

well-labelled, stored in the mind’s dark pantry

until they are taken out and savoured

on the raw, grey days of freezing winter.

Old Michaelmas Day 1


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Ripe, ripening, and green blackberries.jpg

A ‘re-publish’ from an old seasonal post:

Let’s go for a walk and get some blackberries, l suggested to Carrie.

With all her kids to feed, she should be able to freeze quite a few

fruit crumbles, what with the windfalls too.

Okay.  We’d better get them in before the 10th or 11th,

I suppose.

Why then?

Oh, because you must pick blackberries by Old Michaelmas Day,

which is either on the 10th or on the 11th- there is some dispute about


What happens if you break the rule?  I asked, always the maverick.

Something apocalyptic, since Satan was apparently banished from

Heaven on that day and he fell to Earth and landed in a blackberry


He cursed the brambles and either spat on them, or in a Yorkshire

version, urinated on them.

Gross. I expect you would wash them, anyway.

We could always look for acorns, or haycorns as my children

always call them.

What can we make with these?  I looked sceptical.

No, we could lay a bet on a white Christmas and might do better than

the lottery, she elaborated.  If there are a lot of hay..ay-

Bless you! I thought she was about to sneeze..

acorns, there will be snow in December, she elucidated.

I never get lucky that way, I sighed.  Mind you, I don’t buy lottery

tickets. When I was a child, gambling was seen to be as cursed by

the devil


Blackberries, she laughed.  But you are still prepared to eat those. 

Anyway, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

(Sometimes Carrie speaks in the most appalling cliches.)

Mmm...I mused.  It was tempting, but we know where temptation

springs from.  Curiously, I have a different take on Premium Bonds, but

then mine never come up, so the sin is never actualised.   Is that a sin of

commission, or omission?   Either way, will I get away with it? I thought

Michaelmas was last Sunday, though?  I changed the subject- always a good

diversionary technique if something was challenging me ethically.


Oh, that was The Feast of St Michael and All Angels.  Didn’t you have goose

for dinner?  It’s so traditional?  We had one, but they cost a fortune now.


What? I enquired. Was there another anecdote about folklore and rodents?

I’ve just realised that I forgot to check the colour of the breastbones.


‘Cos if they are brown, then we will have a mild winter and if they are white

or bluish white, we can anticipate a severe one.

I have never spent time examining the bones of my Sunday dinner that

closely.  Maybe William Hill had to – that is, if there ever

was a William Hill.  I could imagine him taking his wife to task for throwing

the giblets and carcase into the stock pot before he had done his domestic

divination and calculated the odds.

Was there a real William Hill? I asked aloud.

Why are you asking me that?  she looked confused and exasperated.  Do

you mean the bookmaker?


Well, I think he operated in Yorkshire..

Where the devil was once supposed to have…

Don’t say it, she cautioned.  He was the guy who called legal betting

offices a cancer on society.

A case of the stockpot calling the kettle..

Look, we’d better get going, before the rain arrives and spoils our spoils, as it

were, Carrie interrupted my mercenary meditation on how I could sin and

avoid the consequences.  A world-first in the Guinness Book of Records,

probably, in spite of what Satan whispers.

Okay.  Do you want a plastic bag? I rummaged in my wicker basket.

She looked at me as if I was sporting horns and carried a trident.

I don’t tend to use them any more.  Carrie can be so sanctimonious

sometimes.  She just likes to save five pence.

Well, just this once, see it as a supermarket- sponsored receptacle for

nature’s cornucopia, saved from the devil’s contamination.

Well, if you put it like that, she said.  Let’s go a-foraging!

I’ll see if I can find some sloes for Ginevra’s gin, I remarked.

Drink of the devil, Carrie added.  Anyway, come on!

The Miraculous Beam


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Brassica heaved a sigh of relief and eased herself into a chair

outside Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe.

An Indian summer.  Marvellous.  It’s been so pleasant since

the kids went back to school.  It’s been so relaxing.  What did you

get up to over the summer, Candia?  We haven’t had much time to

catch up.

Oh, this and that.  The Husband and I did take a trip to Christchurch

Priory last week.  I’ve been before.  I remembered the Shelley

monument, but I hadn’t been aware of The Miraculous Beam.

What on earth is that?  Brassie enquired.

She put her cup down as I rustled in my handbag.

Oh, no!  Another poem coming, dare I guess?!

I handed it to her across the table.




Someone was trying to tell us something,

the project manager, Flambard, declared.

When we attempted to lay foundations

at St Catherine’s Hill, the materials

went missing; re-appeared two miles away.

So, we returned to the old Saxon site.

Still the stuff disappeared into thin air.



Aye, sighed The Master Quarryman, you’ll find

there’s always someone cutting corners;

taking home off-cuts to please his missus,

who wants some extra shelves above her fire;

a new table; rockers for a cradle.

And now the gaffer is going to find out

because the board-hewer claims that the joist

is shorter than it was the night before.

And when we tried to hoist it into place

it didn’t fit the specification.

John Everett Millais - Christ in the House of His Parents (`The Carpenter's Shop') - Google Art Project.jpg



The chippie with the enigmatic smile-

always the last to knock off on Fridays,

had worked through his lunch-breaks and took no pay.

When brawls broke out with the apprentices,

he’d mutter something about motes and beams,

continuing to plane with his scarred hands:

a halo of sawdust gilding his head.

He said he’d get his father to help out,

as if something which fell short could be fixed.



He set The Seven Stars, he re-joindered.

Pub refurbs are not the same thing, they quipped.

The night is coming when no man can work,

So, talking of pubs, we’re heading there now.

No man builds without calculation.

We’ve heard that one before, the masons laughed.

He drew a circle on the tracing floor.

Who does he think he is? They quaffed their ale.

Perhaps Architect of the Universe?!

Flambard’s coming round tomorrow first thing.

A happy bunny he’s not going to be.

The whole roof could cave in at any time.

Frankly, we could do with a miracle.


Flambard’- you can guess what was his nickname-

gazes up from the ambulatory.

The beam that the builders had rejected

was now integral to the whole building.

We’ve heard of the budding of Aaron’s staff,

but this is something else, the guildsmen laughed.


But the carpenter had made himself scarce

and there was no trace of him to be found,

save for the load-bearing tree in its place

and the print of his sandal on the ground.


Pride Goes Before a Fall


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Denslow's Humpty Dumpty 1904.jpg

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Murgatroyd closed the book.  He’s certainly had a great fall, he remarked to


Who was Humpty Dumpty? she asked, sipping her celebratory Buck’s Fizz.

I Googled him and it turns out that it is thought to have been a powerful

cannon which collapsed after the Royalist Artillery blasted the besieged walls

which it was defending.  So, it was sent crashing to the ground by

Parliamentary forces.

Well, said Mrs Connolly, coming in with two servings of a delicious breakfast:

Ye canna mak’ omelettes withoot breakin’ eggs!  That’s politics fur ye.

Alea Iacta Est


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Augustus Snodbury prepared to deliver one of his most ancient and

oft-repeated lessons in the Classic Department.  However, he intended

to give it a topical spin.

He threw a die on the front desk and pronounced: Alea iacta est.  This was, for

him, an interactive lesson, utilising a learning aid.

What does this mean?

Before he could choose which hand to acknowledge, that Boothroyd-Smythe

boy had prematurely ejaculated:  The die is cast.


Sir.  The die is cast, Sir.

Hmm, Snod harrumphed.  And how could this be applied to our times?

Not you, boy.  Someone else.

He must be getting past his sell-by date.  A few years ago he’d have had

that boy clapped in irons, or thrown to the lions for shouting out.  He

signalled to a quiet youth sitting on his own at the back.

The ginger-haired pupil ventured: Mr Cameron says there’s no going back for

the Scottish people.

Precisely, Snod rubber-stamped the response.  You can’t cross back over The

Rubicon. Boy!  Put that die down!

It wasn’t brought into this lesson for you to fiddle around with. Not even while

Rome burns!

Now, take this down... Snod loved dictation.  It was the best method of

control, even if it discouraged free thinking- especially as it discouraged

free thinking!

Once Caesar had crossed The Rubicon, there was no going back. 


He turned and wrote ‘Suetonius‘ on the board.  No one, least of all himself,

knew why, but, to a boy, they all wrote it down in their exercise books, some

putting out their tongues while they tried to get the letters in the right order.

The Rubicon, incidentally meaning The Red River, so having some associations

with Clydeside... this was for his own gratification, but there was much

scribbling, was in North Italy, but it does not preclude metaphorical references. 

What’s a metaphor for?  He suddenly sprang this on an unsuspecting child in

the second row, who slightly wet his shorts and broke his pencil point.

That’s where togas came in very handy, Snod observed to himself.

To make us think what it’s there for? quavered the child.

No, that’s a ‘therefore’, Snod barked. Pay attention!  And attention is what The

Romans should have paid to those beyond The Antonine Wall.  But that’s another


You see, Caesar had entered into rebellion and the Senate had removed him

from his command. It started a long civil war.  Who were the two sides?


He wrote Optimates: Traditional Majority on the white board with an

indelible marker.  Drat!

They wanted to limit the power of the Tribune of the Plebs.

A hand shot up!  B–S again.  Groan!

Wasn’t that what a politician called the police, sir?

Allegedly not.

The Optimates sought to preserve the ways of their forefathers..

Like William Wallace and..


Boothroyd-Smythe in his eagerness had forgotten to raise his hand.  Twice

in one day.  His report card would have to be stamped.

The bell rang shrilly.

Get into your testudo formation, said Snod.  Okay,

Forward march!

Excuse me, sir.  Who were the other side?

Snod momentarily had forgotten.  He could smell the odour of his

favourite fasces, he meant faggots, emanating from the dining hall.

That’s your homework, he pronounced with imperatorial, nay,

gubernatorial authority. If you don’t know, find out for tomorrow.

The Law of Unintended Consequences


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A sketch of a Adam Smith facing to the right

Sir, wasn’t it originally a concept of Adam Smith’s?

That Boothroyd-Smythe kid was really getting on his nerves.  He was such

a smart-a**.

Nigel had swapped hats and was standing in for the History teacher.  He

swallowed and counted three elephants.

Well, Robert K Morton, the sociologist, popularised it.

My dad said sociology is an easy option at A-level, butted in the irrepressible

one.  I was talking to him about this topic and he said it was akin to Murphy’s


Right.  Good for him.  As I was saying… We can exhibit hubris when we try

to act.  Who knows what ‘hubris’ is?

Nigel tried to avoid eye contact with B-S, as the staff liked to call him, but

the brat answered without putting up his hand.

My dad says it is what that Salmond man shows.

Enough!  Take a detention for calling out without raising your hand.

Nigel was breaking out in a sweat.  He’d been trying to have a class

discussion on something topical, but hadn’t been able to transmit his key

points about corollaries and-one he’d thought the boys would enjoy- the

cobra effect.  That was the ensuing consequence of paying Indians a

bounty for every cobra that they brought in.  The so-and-sos started

breeding the reptiles big time.

He’d imagined himself as some kind of fakir, mesmerising the class and

drawing them out of their collective basket by the entrancing flute notes

that he’d intone above their heads; instead, one of the deadlier and more

toxic blighters had struck him down fatally, like Julius Caesar in the Forum.

No, that wasn’t a just analogy: he wasn’t among friends…  He would never

hold an audience like that Pied Piper, the First Minister of Scotland.  His own

charges regarded him as a basket case.  But, maybe with hindsight,

that might also be the judgement the people of Scotland might dish out to

their erstwhile hero in five years’ time.  If he, Nigel, was a fakir, what did that

make Salmond?  Some people said ‘a snake oil merchant‘.  Nigel didn’t want to

go that far.  His wee sidekick could be said to share some similarities with a

mongoose, though.

Dwarf mongoose Korkeasaari zoo.jpg

Was Alex a leader who could handle deferred gratification?  Nigel doubted it.

He remembered the experiment where a child was rewarded with two

sweeties if they opted to restrain themselves from consuming one for a few


Somehow he felt that if Alex was put in a room with a pie, he wouldn’t be able

to resist it.  Whereas if Adam Smith was to be subjected to the same experiment,

he felt sure that his self-control would result in sausage rolls all round.

And now he’d have to waste time at the end of the day supervising the wretched

boy.  From now on, the only cobras he’d be getting involved with would be the

alcoholic variety.

The Last King of Scotland


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Last king of scotland uk.jpg

Nigel was on prep duty in the Boarding House.  He was checking what

the boys were looking at on their computers in the study.

John Boothroyd-Smythe was typing away furiously.

Sorry, Mr Milford-Haven, I’ve got to get this finished for tomorrow.

We’ve been set a film review for English.  It forms part of the Writing

to Review and Comment component of the syllabus.

Well, you should have started it earlier.  It’s nearly cocoa time. Just

save and print it out.

He looked over the boy’s shoulder and wasn’t sure how to react.

His charge had integrated a picture from Wikipaedia.  Nigel hoped

that it was in the public domain.

He scanned the boy’s comments.  They seemed pretty factual and

declarative. He supposed that as a reviewer, he should have been

showcasing more evaluation skills to reach the higher tier, but it was

getting late.

Please can you check it over, sir, for punctuation and all that?


And this was what the boy had written:



Idi Amin was known to invent and adopt fanciful imperial titles for

himself, such as ‘His Excellency President for Life’, VC, DSO, MC Lord of

All The Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea; Conqueror of The

British Empire..

(Hmm… I bet he plagiarised that from somewhere…)

In the film, Amin admires Scotland’s resilience and resistance to those

south of the border.  He saw himself as avenging the Scots by defeating

the English.

He has a Scottish doctor and exchanges his own military shirt for the

physician’s Scotland shirt.

(Maybe he could have used a synonym here as the vocabulary was

becoming repetitive…)

Amin tells his practitioner (good word!) that he wants to modernise his

country’s health care system and explains that his cracking down on the

opposition is vital if lasting peace is to be brought to his country.

(Should the boy have inserted the adjective ‘perceived‘ in front of the

phrase ‘cracking down?‘  One has to be so careful as a writer.

It’s a bit declarative, but it will have to do.  Maybe your class teacher will help

you to develop your evaluation skills a bit further.  Anyway, that’s enough

for now.  Bed!

He wished they would all settle down as he wanted to watch the results

of the Referendum.  Being half-Cornish, it would be interesting to see how

Nationalists fared.  But he didn’t think he would be persuaded to join

a separatist movement.

Oh no!  It suddenly dawned on him what the boy might be insinuating.

Was he imagining it, or…?

Actually, he would let the English teacher deal with it.  There was no denying

it: the kid was clever, if devious and able to cover his back, whatever he did.


The Lion and the Unicorn


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Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg

Murgatroyd was contemplating the crest over his lintel.  As in so many Border

areas, it featured a lion and a unicorn.  Pity the unicorn was losing its gilding.

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown;

the lion beat the unicorn all round about the town.

Some gave them white bread and some gave them brown;

some gave them plumb [sic] cake and drummed them out of town.

recited Diana.

Murgatroyd’s curiosity was aroused.  What’s all that about?

Oh, it’s an old nursery rhyme.  I think it refers to the fact that the Union was

less than amicable.  There are various stories about which animal achieved

ascendency.  Like a certain First Minister, the unicorn believed its horn-oil?-

was a universal panacea.  I think it was the poet, Edmund Spenser, who

relayed how the unicorn was trapped in a tree and impaled itself by its horn

when it made a rash assault on the lion.

Murgatroyd looked thoughtful: I think that George Orwell published

something called ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, come to think of it.  He thought

that the conflict between them would create a new kind of democratic

socialism.  I seem to remember that he wanted to retain the Royal Family,

though, and he cautioned that everyone considers themselves British, as

soon as the need for defence arises.


Hmm, interesting, replied Diana.  Lewis Carroll in ‘Through the Looking

Glass’ referred to the rhyme.  Both heraldic beasts belong to the same

king and are supposed to be on the same side, making their rivalry

absurd.  The Unicorn, like the Adam Smith wannabe, the Great Narwhal-

-cum Pinocchio porky pie eater, nay porcine teller himself, appeals to Alice,

aka the electorate, for mutual trust.  David Cameron seems to be positively

leonine, as he asks for the cake to be handed round first and cut in slices


Oh, I remember that, enthused Murgatroyd.  The cake kept returning to its

unified whole, didn’t it?  Even when divided into three.

Mrs Connolly came out into the garden carrying a tray, very much in the

manner of Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques.  A pot of tea and a fine plum

cake was sliding precariously to one side.

What do you know about the lion and the unicorn, Mrs C? asked

Murgatroyd, relieving her of the weight of the comestibles.

Weel now, my understanding is that they represented the union of two

warring nations and they showed that the natural order was supported

by the balanced forces of Nature-ie/ the sun and the moon, held in

harmony.  Individually they are imbalanced, but together no other creature

can match their strength, because they are a union of opposites.  Their

styles of sovereignty may be different, but they are complimentary.

Well expressed, Mrs C! cheered Murgatroyd, pouring the tea himself and

forgetting that she liked to play ‘mother.’

Encouraged by the response, Mrs C continued:

Wert thou the unicorn, pride and wrath would confine thee,

and make thine own self the conquest of thy fury.

Who said that? asked Diana.

Och, The Bishop of Rochester, when he recorded an obscure Aesop’s

fable concerning the twa beasties.  Aye, the lion can be tricky when he

appears to be conciliatory.  The unicorn should never relinquish its horn

to him, even on the appeal for a crutch.  She’ll just be hoisted with her

own petard.  They should all listen to Her Majesty and think very carefully.

Well, it’s late in the day now, Mrs C, volunteered Diana.  But the White

King had the last word in Carroll’s story:  ‘Fair play with the cake!’  If they

don’t justly divide the spoils they’ll both be drummed out of town.

Very true, agreed Mrs C.

Gey Thrawn


, , , , , , , , , ,

The rush light guttered.  It made for chilling reading.  Diana had borrowed

Mrs C’s copy of Burke and terrified herself by reading his summing up of

the aftermath of revolution.

They have found their punishment in their success.  Laws overturned;…industry without vigour; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid,…the people impoverished;…everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the [likely] consequence.

Something cold touched the nape of her neck.  Bannocks!  That wasn’t The

Grey Lady, was it?  She wished it was a return of The Iron Lady, if only to

enjoy the spectacle of Wee Eck being told to stand in the corner- for a

couple of decades, with a dunce’s cap on his noddle.

It was late.  She shouldn’t frighten herself by reading any more.  She

would have nightmares. But she felt ashamed that she had not really

informed herself sufficiently, like many others, and now the Apocalypse,

like the Philistines, was practically upon them.

Aux armes, citoyens!  Wait a minute!  Whose side had they been on? 

She continued:

Were all these dreadful things necessary?  Were they the inevitable results of the desperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to wade through blood…tumult to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous liberty?  No!  Nothing like it.

The ruinations will not be the devastation of civil war; they [will be] ‘the sad but instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace’…Not one drop of their blood have they shed in the cause of the country they have ruined.

Mrs C knocked on the door.

I’ve brought you a wee hot water bottle.  Well, it’s what we use.  Is

everything all right, dear?

Thanks.  Yes.  I don’t know.  Oh, Mrs C, listen to this!

If the leaders should be activated by sinister ambition, and a lust of meretricious glory, then the… Assembly, to whom at first they conform, becomes in its turn the dupe and instrument of their designs.  In this political traffic, the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become subservient to the worst designs of their leaders.

Och, the next bit is the one I like aboot inferior, mechanical members of their

professions who join projects which lay them open to lucrative deals.  He calls

such as they fomenters and conductors of the petty war of village vexation.

Nothing in heaven or earth can serve as a control on them.

Pretty pessimistic then?  Diana gathered her pashmina to her shoulders.

Weel, he says those who attempt to level never equalise and certain men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, individually, or collectively, are permitted to rule.

Onywise, there’s little ye can do noo and ye huvnae the vote onywey.  The

Scots are never undecided.  You wait!  They’ll be gathering in their schiltrons

on Judgement- eh, polling day and woe betide onyone who dares tae meddle

wi’ their free consciences.  They can be gey thrawn and dinna appreciate

onyone assuming that they know whit they’re thinkin.’  Ah widnae like tae

be charging intae their solid line o’ pikestaffs.

Noo, wi’ a’ respect, put oot yer light and settle doon.


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