Easter 1996


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We have just had an eclipse, but here is a re-blog of a poem

I wrote 19 years ago:


That week we ventured outside at midnight,

when a shadow gradually snuffed the moon,

till the reddened orb, deprived of its light,

stared like the Baptist’s eyeball. In high noon

we think the spotted sphere no longer there.

All the primitive tribes rise to my mind,

who must have viewed such an eclipse, despair

weighing stricken hearts. How they must have signed

to each other when they became aware

of its reappearance. So a small group

watched the waning of their Son as darkness

covered the earth, but they were to recoup

The Light of the World. This Easter I bless

the God of Heaven for resurrection,

looking to the sky for inspiration

through my cataract eyes. So inspection

of the new moon tends to celebration.

Astrological symbols directed

men to the babe. Lunar allegory,

which by most people would be rejected,

confirms for me the Good Friday story.

Most of the time I look through the wrong end

of the telescope; get a false picture;

let the neon town lights obscure my Friend;

forget he’s an omnipresent fixture.

He who controls the weather, cycles, tides,

is sometimes indiscernible through cloud;

never disappears, though he sometimes hides:

rises like Lazarus minus his shroud.

Wikipaedia image

Good Friday: Miracle at Much Marcle


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Miracle in Much Marcle

Another Easter poem, re-blogged

Image result for Blanche mortimer

It’s Good Friday: we are driving eastwards

through drifted fields, where ewes have lost their lambs.

Arriving early at the church, its latch

gives mercifully and so we enter,

stumbling into a chancel of pure light.

Attention is diverted to others

who lie in a petrified majesty:

a metaphysical conceit in stone.

Where is the wimpled beauty, tight-buttoned

sleeve?  We want to gaze on serene eyelids.

We’d like to witness Jairus’ daughter

miraculously wake before the end

of Time. This childless spouse, unknown daughter,

took to sleep, shutting out her father’s death

at Tyburn; his treachery with a queen;

his complicity in vile regicide.

Unprepared for absence’s disclosure,

we’re disappointed- not as disciples

who found a luminescent gardener.

There’s no grave mole-catcher to interview.

She has risen; there has been a Rapture.

We see that her heraldic tomb has gone

in the twinkling of an eye and no cloth,

no folded linen’s there- just vacancy,

where Blanche, her sins as white as snowy wool,

blank as a virgin, slept in innocence.

We read she has gone for restoration;

but surmise transfiguration took place

almost a millennium ago.

Centuries have tolled through her long fingers,

each bead once a prayer for deliverance:

for ours; not hers, that having been achieved.

All Saints, Steep Good Friday


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All Saints, Steep

Another re-blog as it is the same season…

Brassie and I set out one sunny afternoon last week,

to savour the fresh air and to visit Steep Church with its

memorial windows to Edward Thomas, the poet.

Imagine our shock at finding one of the exquisite little panes

shattered by vandals-apparently some time ago.

It made me return to my online file and I managed to find

a poem written about these works of art several Springs


Let me share it with you:


It is steep, but we find it after all

with memorial tablet on the wall,

listing old choirboys – Cranstone, Applebee,

whose treble piping trills continually

in shrill birdsong. Death’s head kneelers proclaim

memento mori. We don’t forget name,

or words from the believer whose etched glass

invites us to see less darkly, to pass

through the pain, through the pane, beyond the moss

of an Easter garden, with central cross,

till our gaze follows glaze to Downs and sky,

clouded momentarily by the sigh

of some Hampshire widow, for whom the coat

on washing line; the unsmoked pipe denote

an absent man and yet a spirit nigh,

the daffodils bugling in Reveille.

Palm Sunday in Salisbury


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A re-blog as it is timely:

Simnel cake 1.jpg

I can’t believe that it’s nearly Easter, shivered Carrie.

Quick! let’s go in and bag a table, I said.

Costamuchamoulah cafe was still doing a brisk trade, even on this

grey day.  Amazingly, the smokers were still prepared to sit outside.

We have the routine down to a fine art now: one gets into the queue while

the other nabs a table, much as the disciples snatched a colt.

Yes, Easter’s early this year, I commented, watching a child stuff its face with

a Creme Egg in advance of the Christian calendar.  It’s amazing how such

diminutive creatures can incorporate a whole orb of sickly chocolate fondant

into such a tiny aperture.


I bet they don’t know what Simnel cakes represent, I mused aloud.

What do they stand for? queried Carrie.  Then, seeing my expression, she

added, I’m sure I once knew.

That’s what I say during University Challenge, I replied.

Then I sipped my Mocha, getting a chocolate powder moustache.  You know,

it’s Palm Sunday tomorrow.  Are you going to go to a service? 

Try persuading that lot to get out of bed, she sighed. They used to like to see

the donkey coming into the church, though.  Sometimes they were convinced

that The Dean, giving his dramatised reading, was Pontius Pilate and it scared


Yes, we used to go to Salisbury for the service.  That was when Ted Heath

lived in The Close. In fact..

..you have a poem about it, she smiled.

How did you know?


Polythene wraps New Sarum like an egg.

The sky above The Close is Constable’s.

Cream-robed clergy congregate in cloisters,

bespectacled, brandishing dried gray palms,

under a spire as tall as Babel’s own,

while new choristers mouth All glory, laud

and honour.. without comprehending laud.

The tallest lad hopes that his voice won’t crack.

Girl choristers have not been asked to sing today.

Some miniature Yasser Arafats

in tea-towels and trainers coax an ass

from a spreading cedar into the nave,

where all present pray for its continence.

True blue glass provides a continuo.

Ted Heath’s Jaguar, also blue, is parked

on a reserved space outside Arundells.

What if one should loose its handbrake

and say, The Lord has need of thee this day?

Meanwhile we make intercession for all

unemployed, under and over-employed,

while carefully noting the advertised

champagne breakfast on our service schedule.

Dom Perignon: a foretaste of glory.

The Jobseekers can sip Living Water.

Coffee will be served in the Chapter House

among the exhumed coffin chalices,

patens. The bookshop is doing business

in postcards of Julian of Norwich:

All manner of thing shall be well. Mammon

hasn’t felt stings from His whip of cords-yet.

The head which indicates the Bishop’s stall

has a triple face of circumspection.

The Dean and his ordained wife wear the same

as they stand on repro medieval tiles,

trying not to worry about their lunch.

In the cloisters a chill wind chafes faces.

A chair is overturned, but no tables.

Although we have received the sign of peace,

our palm crosses seem ineffectual.

We stick one on Ted’s windscreen, just in case

his residential permit cuts no ice

with the flaming Being at the Close gate,

who curiously doesn’t wear a badge,

but bears authority from Old Sarum.

He tends to let the backpackers pass through,

like Christians, still bearing their large burdens,

or as camels accessing a needle.

But Tory Faithful have to wait in queues,

backs turned to the Celestial City,

while Peter checks their National Trust cards

and the very stones cry, Glory! Glory!

Caviar to the Generals (not!)


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Murgatroyd was becoming really excited about the huge pond he had

excavated at the side of the pele tower.  He had wanted to farm carp,

but changed his mind when he spotted a care leaflet online which advised

on the care of sturgeon.

Historically, they were discarded as a nuisance, he informed Diana,

but now they are prized for their economic potential.

Do they thrive in cold regions? asked Diana.

Think Russia, replied Murgatroyd.  They are hardy- especially the

snub-nosed ones.  Acipenser brevirostrum.  Once they are about three

feet, their growth rate slows down.  Mind you, some of them are on

the Red List of Threatened Species.

Biologically they are similar to sharks.  They forage on decaying

salmon parts.  Basically they are cannibals.  The Dwarf species eats

invertebrates for breakfast.

Hell, no, joked Diana.  The invertebrates claim to be able to look after


Ed Miliband 2.jpg

They outgrow their habitat very quickly, continued Murgatroyd and

like to be big fish in a small pond. They throw their weight around as

if they were starlets!

Diana took the downloaded article from the table and studied it briefly.

Sterlets, actually, she corrected him.  Just as in the film industry, parasites

are probably attracted to them.  Maybe you should think carefully before

committing to such ruthless predators.  They might look cutesy at the

beginning, but they would be difficult to re-home when they outgrow their

surroundings.  They can become bogged down too and then can’t reverse

out of a bad dead end situation.  Reverse paddling isn’t one of their skills,


Like boasting that Scotland could survive on its oil! laughed Murgatroyd.

Nicola Sturgeon 2.jpg

Oh look!  The Pallid Sturgeon has small eyes, a big head and is paler than

other varieties.  It says here that keeping any of them is akin to trying to

tame reef sharks.  Some are armoured and can only be handled by gauntlets.

Which they have a habit of throwing down, added Murgatroyd, thoroughly

getting into the pre-election spirit.

It says here that one should never hug or squeeze a sturgeon, Diana

summarised. It tells you to expect the unexpected and advises that the

leader should be cut to improve the well-being of the others.  They have

survived for aeons owing to their strong sense of smell.  They can detect

rotten salmon stink bait from vast distances.  They are broadcast

spawners too.

You know, I think I might stick to koi carp after all, Murgatroyd sighed.

Better the devil you know…

Six koi.jpg

Slow Burn


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Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master at St Birinus’ Middle School,

wandered into the corner of the staffroom that was designated

the staff ‘kitchen’.   It was there that he usually prepared his

solitary breakfast, while the more diligent members of his profession

were singing tunelessly at Assembly.

He opened the fridge.  There was the usual array of plastic tubs

brought in by female members of staff, containing strange salads

and supermarket sushi.  He was looking for milk.  Nothing weird and

wonderful, such as the rice, soya or coconut variety, but something

white that had drained out of an udder in some English rural hamlet.

He was just about to place a third Shredded Wheat into his personal

cereal bowl with its calligraphic flourish: Dotheboys Hall, when he heard

the voice of his conscience- ie/ the dulcet tones of Virginia Fisher-Giles,

School Secretary and personal PA to the new Headmaster:

Two would be lovely, but three would be too much.

Now that seemed familiar.

Dead poets society.jpg

Of course, that was exactly the sentiment he felt regarding school

terms.  After the Moveable Feast, it used to be all downhill: sitting under

a Sycamore tree with a couple of scholarship acolytes, ‘analysing’ poetry,

while actually studying Wisden; coaching the Junior Team on a Wednesday

afternoon to the mellow thwack of willow on leather.  The most strenuous

activity might have been manning the bottle stall at the school fete…

Ah, now he remembered.  It was Botham who had appeared on that

advertisement for Shredded Wheat.  A big, beefy guy like him was a good

endorser of the product.  Snod felt that personally he had more in common

with Nigel Hawthorne, who had also recommended the carbohydrate-ridden

wheaten rectangles, in a scholarly capacity on one of the other memorable

promotions.  No doubt the health freaks on the staff would blame his madness

and purple urination- Nigel’s (not his) on the evils of gluten.

This wretched newcomer of a Headmaster had Ideas.  Snod sensed the danger

of that approach.  When the children were finished with their summer exams

and were on school trips, that was usually the time for the Senior Masters to

take a little well-earned snooze in the somewhat lumpy chintz armchairs in

the Senior Masters’ Common Room.  Some had even been known to smoke a

pipe, or study racing tips.  Not now.  Oh no!  Not now.

More meetings had been arranged on the school calendar.  Curricular

Development, they called it.  More ****** worksheets to be prepared

for the following year.

Snod had never used a worksheet in his entire career.  He was a chalk

and talk man and somehow vital information had been driven into the

resistant skulls of his protegees as effectively and ruthlessly as if it

had been planted there by Jethro Tull’s innovative seed drill.

It was all too much.  No rest for the wicked.

He pressed the Weetabixes flat with the back of a spoon which still had

someone’s National Service number engraved on its bowl.  He managed

to squash the third pillow-shaped nibble down, before dowsing it in

white sugar and then drowning it in full-fat Gold Top.

Nigel Milford-Haven breezed in singing ‘O what a Beautiful Morning! 

Assembly had ended a few minutes early as Mr Poskett had played

the recessional molto allegro.

Snod gave him one of those looks which he had perfected over the

decades, which was wont to silence the most ebullient pupil.

Not feeling so good, sir?  Nigel was complicit with the mythic alibi that

all absentee and truanting Senior Masters employed, should their

absence be noted.

Snod stepped aside with a heavy deliberation that would have

characterised one of the heavier dinosaurs.  Nigel opened the fridge

and took out some rice milk.

So, it was his after all.  ******typical!  Gus inwardly commented.  ‘Milksop

came to his mind.  However, he tried to dismiss that term as he knew that

Nigel might end up as his son-in-law.  O tempora!  O mores!  That

unsweetened muesli rubbish was his too, it seemed.

The election will soon be upon us, Nigel pressed on, ignoring Snod’s

reticence.  Nick Clegg’s on a diet.

I suppose he doesn’t want anyone asking: Does he take sugar?  (Snod

was referring to a Radio 4 programme from the past.  He laughed at

his own joke.  He always did.)

An annoying habit, thought Nigel daringly.

Well, the Junior Master continued, the boys are setting up some

hustings and we will need to borrow the staffroom guillotine to cut the

ballot papers.  We have created various parties for them to feel affiliated

to and they are electing representatives.  John Boothroyd- Smythe is

wearing a rosette which represents The Monster Raving Loony Party. 

Who will you vote for, sir?

The Populares Party.  He sprayed Nigel with some cereal.

The Popular Party?  Not like you, sir.  Is that Farage and Co?

No, that sounds more like you.  Same name for a start.  I refer to the

party whose principles the Gracchi supported.  Whoever controlled the

grain supply held control over the city of Rome.   Grain collected as

revenue would be sold at a subsidised rate.  Like keeping the price of

Weetabix reasonably low so that a working man could have three,

should he so desire.  And I do.

Oh, I see.  Politics has always been about Corn Laws and public ire has

always been aroused if the -I was going to say ‘plebs’-  Can I say ‘plebs’?-

Nigel appealed to the Senior Master for clarification and permission-

if…if the people have to eat brioche, or whatever they were offered

instead of bread.

Something like that, muttered Snod.  And don’t let that Boothroyd child

stir up insurrection.  Tell him from me that there is still a guillotine in the

staffroom and I won’t be using it for trimming flyers.


And what do you think of Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Snodbury? asked the new

French mistress, provocatively.  She reached into the fridge and took out

a Vache Qui Rit to unpeel at break, which she took in the Modern

Languages base room.  That department always kept themselves to


Vache qui rit.png

Snod looked pertinently at the red disc in her hand.  No laughing matter,

he opined and, bolting the last fibrous spoonful, he dumped the un-rinsed

bowl in the staff sink and headed for his first lesson, which he was

preparing even as he walked the length of the corridor.

Slow burn‘ was something Ed Balls had worryingly claimed to be a master of,

but three Weetabix was truly the slow energy release that all in authority

needed to perform their challenging roles, whether that be PM, or plain

Senior Master.  And, as for third terms- yes, they should be abolished.

Snod would certainly make his mark against that one.

Simple Simon


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Ed Miliband 2.jpg

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Let me taste your ware.
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland.jpg
Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
Show me first your penny;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Indeed I have not any.
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.[1]

Fifteen Minutes of Fame


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New drambuie bottle.jpg

Diana decided to sit quietly in the barmkin and study her Lenten passages.

Murgatroyd was at an auction, so theoretically she would get some peace.

Mrs Connolly kindly brought her a Drambuie coffee before she took out the


A bit early in the day, Mrs C? Diana queried.

Ach, it’s cold outside.  It’ll warm the cockles of your heart and put some

hair on yer chest, Mrs C opined.

Diana wasn’t really desirous of becoming hirsute in that- or any-


Could you…eh, would you mind not hoovering yet?  I have to meditate

on some passages.  You could polish the silver first, if you like.

Nae bother, Mrs C agreed.  You meditate on yer passages and Ah’ll

clean the passageways. But whit’s that yer reading noo?

Pope-peter pprubens.jpg

Oh, it’s just about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane…you know,

when He was betrayed by Judas’ kiss.  Peter became really angry and

lashed out at the High Priest’s slave, who was probably compelled to

be there.

Sounds like that Jeremy Clarkson, sighed Mrs C.  These bullies always

go for the soft target.  The poor wee soul was only trying to do his job.

Or not, according to Clarkson, replied Diana.  Anyway, it says here in

my notes that the victim was probably called Malchus.

I thought he was called Oisin, ken? said Mrs C.

No, I mean the High Priest’s slave.  Fortunately Jesus healed his ear.

Portrait of a clean shaven man wearing a furry winter hat and smoking a pipe; facing to the right with a bandaged right ear

He wisnae oan hand fur Van Gogh though.  But his wis self-inflicted,

Ah suppose.

Diana wished that Mrs C would stop dusting and leave her in peace.

Ah suppose Peter wis a big chap like Clarkson.  He wis probably famished

after a long day of discipleship and jist lost his rag and threw his weight aroon.

Ah don’t fur wan moment think he’d have had a private helicopter tae take

him tae a boutique hotel.  He must have taken the sword aff wan o’ the


Still, he didnae lose his joab over the stramash, did he?    He wis actually

promoted tae chief bouncer at The Pearly Gates, as far as Ah recall... Och,

fools rush in where angels fear tae tread, but once they’re oan the side o’

the establishment, they’ll keep ithers o’ their ilk oot.

Like making the bully Head Boy? Diana developed the thought.  She’d

never been a fan of the idea at school.

Ah’m no’ sayin’ there shouldnae be consequences fur the belligerent,

Mrs C continued. Clarkson is goin’ tae be hauled up before the Sanhedrin,

or The High Heid Yin.  MacQuarrie’s his name, Ah think.  He’ll proabably be

crucified upside doon.

Well, if Clarkson had been observing Lent, he’d have been saying cheerio

to meat anyway and he might have stayed out of trouble till Mardi Gras,

Diana laughed.  Brawn and brain.  Clarkson has both, but needs the

latter to control the former.

If Peter wis alive today, smiled Mrs C, whit kind o’ car wid he hae


A Popemobile? ventured Diana.

Mebbe an amphibious vehicle, Mrs C pushed on.  Like that James Bond

wan.  Then he could have driven over water.

Vehicle - Wet Nellie

I suppose Judas shows us that there is hope for villains such as Clarkson,

Diana tried to conclude the session.

But whit aboot the poor wee producer fellow?  His masters might not like

him if he’s seen as damaged goods.

He’s probably had his fifteen minutes of fame now, suggested Diana.

He’ll lapse into Malchian obscurity, but will, no doubt have sustained lifelong

scars.  At least he will have a story to tell – or sell.

So, that’s where we get the phrase  ‘givin’ somebody a severe Malky’ ? 

Ah’ve never thocht o’ it before.  Mebbe Ah should dae some o’ thon

studies an a’… Right, Ah’ll leave ye tae it then.  Whit did ye fancy fur

yer lunch, did ye say?

Just a cold platter, said Diana.  Thank you.

Image result for Oisin Tymon

Metete En El Carro, Chamo!*


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(* get in the car, my friend!)

The secretary at Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil had typed a label

and was sticking it on an envelope.  It read:

Hugo de Sousa

19 Chavez Road

Ciudad Zamora…

As her brother was a keen windsurfer, she had read some

of his magazines and thought she recognised the name.

However, she rationalised that it must be a case for

disambiguation.  De Sousa was a fairly common name.  There

was a Portuguese footballer so-named and a bandmaster who

had written The Stars and Stripes and so, this must be yet another

of the tribe.

Stars and Stripes Forever 1.jpg

But, Dear Reader, you remember who Hugo is, don’t you?

Yes, he is/was the blood nephew of Great-Aunt Augusta,

whereas Gus was only an adopted nephew.

Snod had supplied the address, glad that Hugo had sent him

new contact details after his eviction from The Tower of David,

some months previously.  The squatter had been able to rescue

his timbales, cowbell post and other percussive instruments,

without any of them sustaining damage.  He would put the tools

of his trade in storage, as Mr Poskett had written to assure

him that the school had plenty of timpani and snare drums.

Hugo was to receive the largest portion from Great Aunt Augusta’s

will. Gus had paved the way for him to come over to St Birinus’ in order

to take up a temporary teaching post.  The school would sponsor him,

but Gus would stand guarantor.  Virginia, from the School Office, had

spent quite a bit of time researching work visas, restrictive foreign

exchange currency controls and Cedula ID cards.  She was becoming

familiar with the girl on the end of the phone at The British Embassy,

Caracas. She received advice to the effect that Hugo should not take

more than 10,000 dollars out of the country, unless he declared it to

customs officials.  He would need to remain calm as his flights may be

cancelled at short notice, or the price might increase rapidly.  He should

pay for his flights in pounds sterling- the school would help with this-

and he should be discreet lest someone find out that he was going to

inherit some money.  Kidnapping was a serious hazard.  An armoured

car was the recommended transportation to Maiquetia Airport.

Until 1983, a child born to a British mother and a foreign father outside

the UK, had no claim to British citizenship.  But, if Hugo registered and

paid £540, things might be arranged, eventually.  Actually, the

extortionate admin. fee had been abolished, as of 2010, Virginia was

told subsequently.  She now understood it to be £80.

The Willoughby twins, Castor and Pollux, were becoming excited.  They

had been listening to Eguie Castrillo and Tito Puente, when most of the

rest of the class had been listening to One Direction.  A new percussion

teacher was good news.  They were keen to learn some Salsa, whereas

the other boys thought that was something to pour over salad.  They

unwrapped their hickory timbale sticks, took out their mambo bells,

Sabian cymbals and cascaras and plagued their parents for jam blocks

and mounted tambourines.

Hugo and hip-hop were going to receive a wonderful welcome.

Scarred for Life


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Carrie had brought her mother-in-law, Ginevra Brewer-Mead the

Saturday newspaper while she had been out walking her over-

weight pugs, Algy, Pooh-Bah and Humbug.

She had to leave them in the porch, as Magda, the carer

detested them.  Fortunately she was out shopping.

Suddenly the old lady put the newspaper down and sighed.

What’s wrong? asked Carrie.

Oh, it’s just an obituary for someone I knew.  All my friends

are popping off.

Carrie picked up the paper and scanned it.

Augusta Snodbury…passed away in Snodland Nursing Home

for the Debased Gentry…..choked on an olive in her Martini.

Dry Martini-2.jpg

Oh, she was the same age as you.  How did you know her?

Actually, I knew her through her younger sister, Berenice.

Remember The Palace had afternoon tea for Land Girls in

2009? We met there.  Got talking about The Queen Mother

and what kind of gin she preferred.

Was Berenice in Glasgow too?

No, no.  She joined in 1942 under Lady Denham.  Get me

that blue photo album out of the cabinet, will you?  Third

drawer down.

See, said Ginevra, after flicking through a few pages.

There we are.  Remember that fascinator I had?  Got quite

a bit of use out of it.  Augusta is on the right.  I’m the rose

between two thorns…she giggled.  Berenice looks the elder,

but that’s because she didn’t wear sunscreen in Venezuela.

Bolted to follow her dreams of Simon Bolivar, she told me.

She was boasting that she had once helped The Queen to

clean out an engine.  You know, Her Majesty was 2nd

Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor and a very competent mechanic.

I told Berenice she was a hypocrite.  Can’t be a Royalist and

espouse Republicanism.  Anyway, The Queen didn’t seem to

remember her, not surprisingly.  She shook my hand. 

Berenice just got Camilla.  The Duke chatted up Augusta for

quite a while.  He said he didn’t recognise her with her clothes

on.  I didn’t get it at the time.

Duchess of Cornwall in 2014.jpg

It says here that Berenice died a couple of years ago,

commented Carrie, trying to get Ginevra off her uncharitable

tangent.  And it mentions that Augusta was Head Girl of St

Vitus’ School for The Academically-Gifted Girl.  I must tell


Not strictly true, muttered Ginevra.

What do you mean?

They only added the post-modifying phrase fairly recently.

It’s not the school it once was. It used to be a fairly ordinary

dumping ground for genteel girls whose parents weren’t very

affluent.  Anyone could go there if they had the dosh.  It should

have been called St Vitus’ School for the Academically-

Challenged Girl back then, or for the Financially-Challenged


Well, it’s not like that now, said Carrie.  Oh, it says here that

Augusta became the Muse and model for reclusive early

twentieth century artist and mystic, Hamish Diecast.  She

went to live with him in a remote island in the Inner Hebrides,

but managed his sales to London galleries and helped to

establish his reputation.  I suppose The Duke might have had

a portrait of her in his private apartments… He never forgets a

pretty girl, apparently.

Didn’t you see The Antiques Roadshow from Oban? Ginevra

asked.  I think it was last year.  That blonde chap, Rupert Maas,

identified a nude portrait that a gamekeeper brought along,

wrapped in an oilskin, as being Lady with an Otter, a lost Diecast

work based on Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine.  It went at

Sotheby’s for an enormous price.

Dama z gronostajem.jpg

Shameless hussy!  She didn’t have a stitch on.  Wouldn’t have

caught me holding one of those creatures without a leather

gauntlet and full body armour.  That chap that wrote The Ring

of Bright Confidence…

That was a Colgate advert, Ginevra.  Do you mean Gavin

Maxwell’s book?

Whatever.  (Ginevra had picked up this insouciance from her

grand-daughter, Tiger.)  He had an assistant called Squirrel

Nutkins, or something, who had parts of his fingers eaten by

Maxwell’s vicious little pet.  Augusta was lucky she wasn’t scarred

for life, though she probably was, emotionally.  Diecast was a

womaniser and a weirdo.

Fischotter, Lutra Lutra.JPG

Anyway, she is at peace now, conciliated Carrie.  You know,

I have just had a thought: isn’t there a Senior Master at St

Birinus Middle called Snodbury?  I wonder if he is any relation?

Maybe he is the love child of Diecast and Augusta?

Shouldn’t think so, pronounced Ginevra. She was more

interested in power than sex. She wasn’t attracted to men

in that way.  She told me.

While you were at the tea at Buckingham Palace ballroom?!

Oh, we old girls cover a lot of ground!  I suppose there must

be a connection, but I wouldn’t think she had had a son.  No,

not with him.

A key was rattling in the porch door.

‘ello!  I am back.  Oh, shut up, you stupid little dogs!

Carrie took her leave and went to rescue Magda from the

tangled leashes round her ankles.

I got your paper! she addressed Ginevra, triumphantly.

But her charge had already read it.  It was destined for

doggy purposes.



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