Beast of Bolsover II


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It was the end of the week and the St Birinus’ Middle Staff Meeting had rolled

around once more, with terrifying regularity.  The gathering was a

sacrosanct feature on the school calendar.

Mr Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master – ‘Snod‘ to all and sundry-made his

slightly tardy arrival.  Some bitchily said this was in order to achieve a

grand entrance, but Scarlett O’Hara he was not, nor even Raina from

Arms and the Man, though he DID know the original source of Shaw’s

play’s title, being a Classicist.

He knocked the door peremptorily, provoking Mr Geoffrey Poskett to

move his lithe frame which was appuyant against the staffroom exit.

Who does he think he is?  Black Rod? The Head of Music fulminated

silently.  Geoffrey had conveniently positioned himself so as to be

able to leg it over to lunch while there was a possibility of Spotted

Dick still being on the menu.

Snod directed a crushing glance in his direction and slid past him,

negotiating his path towards his favourite seat in the front bench,

correction: front row, from which he preferred to challenge The Head

Teacher, pretty much in the sarcastic manner of Dennis Skinner, MP,

in The House of Commons.

But, mehercule! Qu’est-ce-que-se-passe ici?

He whom the Junior Masters had nick-named The Beast of Bolsover II

had been supplanted.   A probationary Minister, nay, Master was

ensconced in Snod’s favourite armchair.

Image result for armchair

I think you’ll find that I had reserved that particular place, Snod

menaced, looking for the evidence of his battered and displaced


I didn’t realise that places could be reserved, replied the impertinent


Don’t take that particular SNP tone with me, young sir, Snod

answered.  I inherited this chair three decades ago, on the demise

of its previous incumbent, my own House Master, Mr Stickland.  It is

directly in the line of fire and consequently only for occupants of a

rebellious nature.  You, sir, have not enough experience to be able to

sabotage at the appropriate level.  Half the Junior Masters are toerags

compared to…

Kindly withdraw that pejorative remark, Mr Snodbury, commanded The


He was also looking at the clock and was itching to conclude proceedings

so as to leg it to the refectory as fast as was decently possible.  Nursery

puddings-yum!  He wasn’t allowed them at home.

Snod threw his hands in the air.  All right, sir.  The other half aren’t.

The Headmaster gave up any idea of ingesting the last of the

steamed pud.

It wasn’t that Snod sought to emulate Dennis Skinner, except in that

old curmudgeon’s conscientious record for best attendance and so on.

However, Snod and the MP shared an appreciation of the importance of

Custard- Freudian slip!– Custer and his Last Stand.

Charles Marion Russell - The Custer Fight (1903).jpg

Early bath, Mr Snodbury! warned The Headmaster.  The Battle of Little

Bighorn had not even commenced.

Everyone sniggered.  The usurper, however, moved to the seat behind,

chiefly because he required the support of The Senior Master in a little

matter in which a parent had complained about the distinct lack of prep

that he had recently set and marked.

Boys to be discussed…? The Headmaster wearily inquired.

Boothroyd-Smythe, a Form Master suggested.

Everyone groaned.  The Supplanter sweated under his collar.  He knew

he was in for it.

Can you comment on this homework matter, Mr Snodbury?  The

Headmaster appealed.

Certainly, sir.  It is a matter of ‘when posh boys are in trouble they seek

to sack the servants.’

Resolved then?  Let’s go to lunch.

Collective stomachs rumbled gratefully.  Mr Poskett heard nuances of

an aleatoric symphony of  Avant-Garde music.  But then he had just been

teaching John Cage to an unresponsive bunch, so the similarity sprung

to mind.

Thereafter, The Junior Master gave place to his elder and better as

he knew that his career at St Birinus’ was entirely dependent on his

ability to extract a Get Out of Jail Free card from Mr Augustus Snodbury,

Senior Master.  And with this revelation, he joined the ranks of

faithful acolytes.

En Retard


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John Boothroyd-Smythe took his half term envelope out of his

rucksack and gave it to his mother.   This was a miracle in itself.

Usually it would fester among his rugby socks for weeks on end,

until his mother suddenly realised that she was deficient in some

vital piece of information for the following weeks.  Then she would

launch a search party to discover the whereabouts of the said

missive, which, by then, had semi-biodegraded.

A red slip fell out of the envelope.  She picked it up and

expostulated:  They’ve got another think coming!

The piece of paper was headed: En Retard! She was being fined

ten pounds as she had seemingly been late on at least three

occasions in the previous half term.  Late in picking John up

in the afternoons.

They must have got the idea from that school in the news…what was

it?  Oh yes- Henley Green in Coventry.

Don’t pay it, mum, her delinquent son advised.   Who shopped you-

Mr Milford-Haven?  He has to wait till every boy has been collected

from the yard.

Yes, that snivelling Junior Master, apparently.  That is his signature

on the form, is it not?  They’re probably trying to raise money for a

cushy new armchair in the staffroom – one into which they can sink

at the end of a particularly hard day while we parents battle through

the rush hour traffic to pick up the children that subsidise their lotos-


John concurred.  He didn’t know what lotos-eating was, but it

reminded him that he was hungry.

Well, I’m going to complain to his line manager…

John looked blank.

Mr Snodbury.  He is sure to support me in this infringement

of human decency.

John was not so confident.

Well, the old duffer is behind the times himself.  But, leave it till

tomorrow, mum.  What’s for tea?


Three times.  When?  How had it happened?

There was the Tuesday when she had had a puncture after hitting

that pothole and she had had to wait ages for the Roadside Rescue

chap.  But when else?

Oh, she remembered that she had got her shoulders stuck in a dress

that she had been trying on and had had to solicit assistance from

one of the salesgirls.  She was embarrassed as she had only had her

second best bra on.

But when was the third time?

Ah.  She had been delayed when she had been stopped for

doing thirty-five mph in a thirty zone and had had to agree to go

on a speed awareness course, or take points on her licence.  She

was being punished twice.

Mr Snodbury picked up the phone in the office of The Head’s PA, Virginia


Who is it? he mouthed to the silk-stockinged one.

That dreadful Boothroyd-Smythe woman, Virginia whispered.

Well, Mrs Boothroyd-Smythe, as my own venerable Housemaster

used to say: ‘Life isn’t fair’.  In fact, Mr Quentin Stickland, or ‘Stickler’

as we were wont to call him, did once address me on the matter of

timekeeping, in my days of callow youthdom.  He looked pointedly

at his pocket watch and reminded me that punctuality was- and indeed

is- the politeness of princes. And once, when I was thirty seconds late

for hymn practice, he admonished me with his personal recollection that

he had never been tardy, even throughout The General Strike of 1926,

so he could not comprehend my problem.

Gisela knew that she was on a losing wicket.

But Snod was in full reminiscence mode now.  You know, that dear old

boy was in Registration before 9am every morning, for forty-five years.

The only occasion that he didn’t quite make it was when he collapsed

outside the Form Room at 8:59 am and breathed his last.

That was when the hour hand on the school clock-tower froze, in 1962.

So, you see, Mrs Boothroyd-Smythe, your contribution, along with those

garnered from the-ah-less punctilious parents, will go some way to the

restoration of the clock, in his honour.

Who knows?  I may even have the privilege to honour his memory once

again, as I did at his first Memorial service when I recited a bowdlerised

and truncated version of his favourite poem by Marvell.  The lines about

hearing at one’s back the wings of Times’ chariot seem especially apt in

these days of casual dilatory behaviour…

But there was no back-channelled response.  At his back, Snod could only

hear the buzz of the dialling tone.

Gisela would pay up.  She just didn’t have the time, nor inclination, to


International Rescue?


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Series title over a image of outer space

David Miliband 2.jpg

And please don’t nick my idea, anyone!

Waiting for the Wistaria


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Chinese Wisteria Blütentrauben.JPG

A re-blog, as every year I get a kick out of

seeing the magnificent wistaria at the entrance

to The Cathedral Close in Winchester:


Waiting weeks for wistaria’s welter

of tendrils, titivating Prior’s Gate,

to flourish its purple helter-skelter

ear-rings.  For Winchester, it seems quite late;

elsewhere trailers blossomed against bright brick

facades, yet soon their petals will be spent.

But this one saves its special party trick

till last-like choice Cana wine, heaven scent.



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Ed Miliband 2.jpg

Ed awoke on the morning of the election from uneasy dreams

and found himself transformed into a gigantic millipede.

His wife said:  Hadn’t you better get up?

He could hear his voice reverberating, but destroying the sense

of his words.  He suspected that his delusions were about to


Ed!  The Chief Whip’s here!

The Chief Whip had been encouraging him to explain why he was

not facing up to the deficit.

Your position in the firm is not unassailable, he had warned.

It’s not going as well as I had hoped, Ed had admitted.  But just give

me another chance.  The voters just need to be soothed, persuaded

and won over.

He was finding it difficult to make a U-turn.

In the crowd who awaited his levee was a small businessman

who opened a file which he claimed had details of his complete state

of despair.  He complained that Ed and his friends had borrowed so

much that although households had been kept afloat, everyone had

become complacent about the cash flow.

A music student presented herself and said that she could not afford

to study at the conservatoire.  Ed felt sympathy for her plight, but knew

student fees would have to be budgeted for in other ways.

There was a lot of grumbling from older folks about dividends being all

very well, but money needing to be kept for rainy days.  The aged and

disabled could not be expected to make a contribution.

The hospital across the road was beyond his field of vision.  The view

from his window was of a gray land under a gray sky.

The ordinary family were now so over-worked that they had no time to

think about Ed.  Circumstances had conspired to make it impossible to

downsize from their apartment, as they had had to take in lodgers

to avoid bedroom tax.

Ed had felt guilty in the past that he had not helped enough and so

he had decided to put in an appearance.  He would show himself to

the masses now!

Delegates from the EU were appalled at the thought of having such a

creature in the same chamber.  They refused to pay a penny towards

their keep.  Rather, they demanded compensation.  Ed feared that the

general tension would discharge against him.

It was agreed by one and all that they would have to rid themselves

of this creature.  He would be the death of them all.

If only he would understand us, sighed a poor old man, who had

worked for a bank at one time.

The music student hissed:  He’s just like Clegg.  Another unpleasant insect.

We believed in him for so long and in what he pledged regarding fees. 

They all weaken our borders and want the apartment to themselves!

Ed remained still until Big Ben chimed.  Then he realised that he had not

the ghost of a chance of survival.

The parasites dispersed.  They left a note confirming that the finances

were not hopeful.  He crawled back under his bed.

But then the electorate went out into the Spring sunshine and discussed

their prospects without him. They weren’t too bad after all, because

they all had jobs which were quite promising and which could lead to

better things.

Maybe the future wasn’t so Kafkaesque after all!

Black-and-white photograph of Kafka as a young man with dark hair in a formal suit



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How are you getting on with clearing out your cellar,


Brassica and I were in our favourite haunt, sharing

a Monk Pear tea.

It takes hours to throw away a few sheets of paper,

I admitted.  I keep wondering if I might need all the

notes for future reference.  Then I come across old

school anthologies of narrative verse and feel compelled

to read the less familiar poems.

You’ll need to be more ruthless with yourself, advised


Hmmm, that’s not a problem normally, I replied.  Anyway,

you know how I have been banging on about Judas since

Lent and even before…

Yes, we have all read your poems on your WordPress site,

Brassie interrupted.

Well, I discovered a ballad I had been unaware of by a poet

called Robert Williams Buchanan on the subject and I am going

to publish it on my site so readers who enjoyed my ‘Judas

Tree’, ‘The Forgiveness Window’ and  so on can continue to

develop their thoughts and join me on my theological journey-

dreadfully cliched metaphor, though that is!

Good idea, said Brassie, but don’t get too sidetracked.  Your

husband will be fed up with your rate of de-cluttering.

So, here is the poem:

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
Lay in the Field of Blood;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Beside the body stood.

Black was the earth by night,
And black was the sky;
Black, black were the broken clouds,
Tho’ the red Moon went by.

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
Strangled and dead lay there;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Look’d on it in despair.

The breath of the World came and went
Like a sick man’s in rest;
Drop by drop on the World’s eyes
The dews fell cool and blest.

Then the soul of Judas Iscariot
Did make a gentle moan—
‘I will bury underneath the ground
My flesh and blood and bone.

‘I will bury deep beneath the soil,
Lest mortals look thereon,
And when the wolf and raven come
The body will be gone!

‘The stones of the field are sharp as steel,
And hard and cold, God wot;
And I must bear my body hence
Until I find a spot!’

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot,
So grim, and gaunt, and gray,
Raised the body of Judas Iscariot,
And carried it away.

And as he bare it from the field
Its touch was cold as ice,
And the ivory teeth within the jaw
Rattled aloud, like dice.

As the soul of Judas Iscariot
Carried its load with pain,
The Eye of Heaven, like a lanthorn’s eye,
Open’d and shut again.

Half he walk’d, and half he seemed
Lifted on the cold wind;
He did not turn, for chilly hands
Were pushing from behind.

The first place that he came unto
It was the open wold,
And underneath were prickly whins,
And a wind that blew so cold.

The next place that he came unto
It was a stagnant pool,
And when he threw the body in
It floated light as wool.

He drew the body on his back,
And it was dripping chill,
And the next place be came unto
Was a Cross upon a hill.

A Cross upon the windy hill,
And a Cross on either side,
Three skeletons that swing thereon,
Who had been crucified.

And on the middle cross-bar sat
A white Dove slumbering;
Dim it sat in the dim light,
With its head beneath its wing.

And underneath the middle Cross
A grave yawn’d wide and vast,
But the soul of Judas Iscariot
Shiver’d, and glided past.

The fourth place that he came unto
It was the Brig of Dread,
And the great torrents rushing down
Were deep, and swift, and red.

He dared not fling the body in
For fear of faces dim
And arms were waved in the wild water
To thrust it back to him.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Turned from the Brig of Dread,
And the dreadful foam of the wild water
Had splashed the body red.

For days and nights he wandered on
Upon an open plain,
And the days went by like blinding mist,
And the nights like rushing rain.

For days and nights he wandered on,
All thro’ the Wood of Woe;
And the nights went by like moaning wind,
And the days like drifting snow.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Came with a weary face—
Alone, alone, and all alone,
Alone in a lonely place!

He wandered east, he wandered west,
And heard no human sound;
For months and years, in grief and tears,
He wandered round and round,

For months and years, in grief and tears,
He walked the silent night;
Then the soul of Judas Iscariot
Perceived a far-off light.

A far-off light across the waste,
As dim as dim might be,
That came and went like the lighthouse gleam
On a black night at sea.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Crawl’d to the distant gleam;
And the rain came down, and the rain was blown
Against him with a scream.

For days and nights he wandered on,
Push’d on by hands behind;
And the days went by like black, black rain,
And the nights like rushing wind.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot,
Strange, and sad, and tall,
Stood all alone at dead of night
Before a lighted hall.

And the wold was white with snow,
And his foot-marks black and damp,
And the ghost of the silvern Moon arose,
Holding her yellow lamp.

And the icicles were on the eaves,
And the walls were deep with white,
And the shadows of the guests within
Pass’d on the window light.

The shadows of the wedding guests
Did strangely come and go,
And the body of Judas Iscariot
Lay stretch’d along the snow.

The body of Judas Iscariot
Lay stretched along the snow;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Ran swiftly to and fro.

To and fro, and up and down,
He ran so swiftly there,
As round and round the frozen Pole
Glideth the lean white bear.

’Twas the Bridegroom sat at the table-head,
And the lights burnt bright and clear—
‘Oh, who is that,’ the Bridegroom said,
‘Whose weary feet I hear?’

’Twas one look’d from the lighted hall,
And answered soft and slow,
‘It is a wolf runs up and down
With a black track in the snow.’

The Bridegroom in his robe of white
Sat at the table-head—
‘Oh, who is that who moans without?’
The blessed Bridegroom said.

’Twas one looked from the lighted hall,
And answered fierce and low,
‘’Tis the soul of Judas Iscariot
Gliding to and fro.’

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Did hush itself and stand,
And saw the Bridegroom at the door
With a light in his hand.

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
And he was clad in white,
And far within the Lord’s Supper
Was spread so broad and bright.

The Bridegroom shaded his eyes and look’d,
And his face was bright to see—
‘What dost thou here at the Lord’s Supper
With thy body’s sins?’ said he.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Stood black, and sad, and bare—
‘I have wandered many nights and days;
There is no light elsewhere.’

’Twas the wedding guests cried out within,
And their eyes were fierce and bright—
‘Scourge the soul of Judas Iscariot
Away into the night!’

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
And he waved hands still and slow,
And the third time that he waved his hands
The air was thick with snow.

And of every flake of falling snow,
Before it touched the ground,
There came a dove, and a thousand doves
Made sweet sound.

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
Floated away full fleet,
And the wings of the doves that bare it off
Were like its winding-sheet.

’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
Stole in, and fell at his feet.

‘The Holy Supper is spread within,
And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
Before I poured the wine!’

The supper wine is poured at last,
The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom’s feet,
And dries them with his hair.

(This version of the poem from:



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Image result for grading

Castor!  Pollux!   Have you done your prep?

Brassie was just checking that everything had been cleared so

that the family could enjoy the Bank Holiday.  She hadn’t noticed any

scholarly activity going on in the boys’ room.

It’s all under control, mater, said Castor.

No worries! Pollux chimed in, not even looking up from his Ipad.

Are you sure?

Yeah, we outsourced it.  It should be e-mailed back to us from India by

Randeep in time for Tuesday period 4.

What?!  Brassica thought she was going to explode.

Well, explained Castor, Mr Milford-Haven was telling us that he was

snowed under by marking and that he had read about the latest

service where teachers could send their guilt pile abroad and have

scripts marked in a far continent for two quid… I mean pounds. 

He had registered his mother’s glare.

I don’t know why you don’t like the idea, Mother Darling, Pollux

chipped in.  You send out our ironing, don’t you?

It’s not quite the same thing, their mother pointed out grimly.

Teachers are supposed to gain knowledge of their pupils’

apprehension of their subject from assessing their charges’


Mr Snodbury doesn’t pore over our work, Castor replied.  He

told us that he climbs up to the galleried landing over the

vestibule and, if the coast is clear, he scatters our exam scripts

over the banisters.  He says that he has an instinctive awareness

of who is hot and who is not.  He can tell by looking at the writing

if they are any good, or not, without even reading them.  So he

picks them off the floor in  rank order.

Apparently he has an inner geiger counter that tells him who

should be top.  He was born with it and he says that is what

makes him a good teacher, added Pollux.

I don’t believe what I am hearing, Brassie said.  It is a pity that

there will be no one in the office on Monday, as I would like to

speak to The Headmaster about this.

Oh, don’t Ma, both boys chorused.  Snod is the best teacher in

the school.  Everyone knows that.

I wonder if he even had teacher training, pondered their mother.

He said it was a waste of time, Pollux volunteered.

Oh yeah, agreed Castor.  In that History lesson he said teachers,

like soldiers, only learned in the field.  He told us that the difference

between theory and practice was as great as learning to stick a

bayonet in a sandbag in a training camp in Kent and actually going

over the top in World War One.  That’s why some people call

teaching ‘classroom warfare’, he said.

I think that was a totally inappropriate thing to say to young

impressionable people, Brassie said, tight-lipped.  I’ll deal with

this next week.  Now, what was this prep that you sent off? 

English, or…?

Maths, answered the twins.  It’s not exactly difficult to grade. 

It was all multiple choice.

I suppose the staff are relying on your honesty in feeding back

the scores?

Yeah.  Chillax, Mumsie.

Brassie gave Castor another severe look.

Anyway, laughed Pollux.  Mr Milford-Haven told us that practically

everything is subjective.  Even Gandhi just managed 64% in Kathiawar

School Exams and only achieved a ‘fair’ in Arithmetic.

And this is the standard of the people who will be marking my sons’

work! thought Brassie bitterly.

So what happens if you challenge Mr Snodbury’s scores? she persisted.

You don’t, clarified Castor.  The last boy who questioned Snod’s addition

had a mark subtracted for impertinence, so nobody says anything now.  We

don’t mind.  It all comes out in the wash.  That’s what he always says.

I see, said Brassie.  She would have to discuss this with their father.

Clearly the only marking that was being done in that school was the

defining of masters’ territory.  The way they still sat at those high desks

as if they were inviolate inside some Caucasian Chalk Circle of their own

making made her blood boil.  She could only hope that Snod, The Senior

Master, would trip up as he stepped down from his raised dais to go to the

Staffroom at break- like that Millipede, as the boys called him. He needed

taking down a peg or two.

Image result for Caucasian Chalk Circle

She felt like encouraging her boys in non-co-operation, something

that funny little man in the loincloth had advocated, she seemed to

remember.  Ben Kingsley, yes.  She’d seen the film with Cosmo when

they were courting.  Passive resistance. It would be interesting to see

how Senior Management would handle that mode of soft insurrection.

It might bring the institution into the twenty first century.  Goodness

knows how Ofsted had ever rated them ‘Outstanding!’  Maybe the

Inspectors just made everything up so they could go home early at

the end of a difficult week, eating Hobnobs in various base rooms and

frightening the life out of those who still had any remnants of vivacity

and enthusiasm for their subject.  Fools!  Did they not know that they

were being assessed on whether the Hobnobs were the chocolate variety

and whether the coating was milk or plain, according to the predilection of

the individual interrogator, eh, Inspector?

She was surprised at her strength of feeling!

It would serve the staff right if they encountered a bit of opposition if

they were contemplating posting off her boys’ precious outpourings to

a country where the Jain concept of ‘syadvad ‘ was rife.  All views of truth

are partial.  Ha!  What she paid the school fees for was confirmation of


And she could hardly chide her little darlings if they were merely

anticipating and enacting the vile policy of those who were supposed

to be their guardians and mentors.

The face of Gandhi in old age—smiling, wearing glasses, and with a white sash over his right shoulder

Rogue One and Two


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Nicola Sturgeon 2.jpg

The Labour Party members are all but extinct; the Old Country is in

turmoil and there is a dark threat hanging over us all, remarked

Brassie, as she read The Daily Mail in Costamuchamoulah must-

seen cafe.

Sounds like the plot of the new Lucasfilm, commented Carrie.

A band of Resistance Fighters unite for a daring mission to

inflict independence.  They want to avoid imperial

entanglements…  Brassie looked up.  You’re right.  All we

need now is the return of Only-Wan Kebabi, the slimline version

of the original mentor, or Only-Wan Cannelloni as he is known in

some parts of ethnically diverse Glasgow.

The parts with the Art Deco ice cream parlours?  Carrie asked.

You got it!  Then the locals would indubitably realise that the gods

were not coming to save them.

Brassie thought for a moment.  Hmmm…the  erstwhile leader never

used to answer the questions.  In some subcultures, ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’

means: ‘Your question doesn’t make sense.’  In Salmond’s case, it was his

answers that were the problem.

One thing that you learn in politics is that the Clone Troops usually

turn on their Jedi generals, observed Carrie.

We can only hope, agreed Brassie.  Mind you, I think the new leader

is more like Princess Leia.

How so?

Well, Leia was an accomplished senator during the civil war and

a proponent of The Rebel Alliance and was instrumental in the

creation of a New Republic.

I see what you mean.  She was a bit of a tomboy, but then she

got a makeover.  In the same way, it seems that the wee battler

has been called ‘Swanky Kranky’ now.

Wasn’t Leia a bit of a prankster?  I don’t know if Nicola has a

sense of humour.

Yes, Leia destroyed the budget for the following year, Brassie

grimaced.  But at least she did disapprove of expensive parties

being held while the poor were suffering in Galashiels… I mean,

The Galaxy. She did attend receptions for offworld personnel,


Some critics felt threatened by her, but others viewed her as

being pathetically idealistic, Carrie recalled.

Yes, she was nicknamed ‘Madam Senator’ or ‘Little Miss

Inalienable Rights.’

How very similar!  Didn’t she want to find a new location for the

Rebel Base?

Brassie had a brainwave.  You know, I don’t see why the SNP

don’t go on that Mars Mission, on a one-way ticket, with the

likes of Sarah Brightman.  It’s a Red Planet, so they should feel

quite at home there.  They could confine their Thrawn Crisis to

their own planet.


‘Thrawn’: what does that mean? Carrie enquired.

Oh, it’s a Scots word which means ‘twisted’.

Anyway, The First Minister would probably seize the stone

so she could have the right to address The Council- a bit like

Ralph and Jack with the conch in ‘Lord of the Flies’.

She probably already has The Stone of Scone.  Some say it was her

lot who originally nicked it.  Affected by The Dark Side, she will probably

become Queen of the Empire.

Well, they could stuff themselves with all the Mars Bars they wished,

quipped Carrie. Deep-fried, or otherwise.  Or they could just go to Isis

Headquarters instead.

I think you mean ISS- The International Space Station, Brassie corrected

her.  It’s a common mistake.

A rearward view of the International Space Station backdropped by the limb of the Earth. In view are the station's four large, gold-coloured solar array wings, two on either side of the station, mounted to a central truss structure. Further along the truss are six large, white radiators, three next to each pair of arrays. In between the solar arrays and radiators is a cluster of pressurised modules arranged in an elongated T shape, also attached to the truss. A set of blue solar arrays are mounted to the module at the aft end of the cluster.

Whatever.  Carrie was a little embarrassed by her faux pas.  But The

First Minister could do her Battle Meditation there and utilise her Jedi

skills of diverting the miasma of debating fog.  One must admit that she

sees things clearly and rarely misses a target with her blaster.

Oh, she is good at some things, conceded Brassie.  Messianic things.

That’s why she could share Leia’s nickname: Mal’arg’osh.


‘Daughter of the Saviour.’

What happened to Princess Leia at the end of the saga?

She died, was resurrected, but then re-located thousands of years

back in time.  A similar retrospective transportation might be fitting

for the Braveheart squad.  They love anachronism.

And what will be the final word on the one who groomed Sturgeon for office?

Brassie thought for a moment.  Let me quote Yoda:

‘Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has.  How embarrassing.’



, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Large wicker laundry hamper/basket

John Boothroyd-Smythe was winding up his mother

as usual.

It was the Easter break and he was supposed to be

revising.  However, the state of his bedroom was not

conducive to serious study, his parent felt.

She threatened to dock his allowance if he didn’t put

his dirty clothing into the laundry bin, but he just shrugged

and muttered, Whatever.

Your name isn’t Hodor, by any chance? she remonstrated.

Not a flicker.

You know- that character in Game of Thrones.  The one who

only utters a single word.

John grunted and did not avert his gaze from his computer


Laocoon and His Sons.jpg

Oh, I give up! Gisela expostulated, depositing his underwear

and sundry soiled garments on the floor.  Some socks entwined

themselves into a tangled series of knots that would have given

Laocoon a tourniquet or two.  Why do you have to be so



Later, in Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe, Gisela was sharing

her woes with a vaguely interested acquaintance.

Brassica had twin boys in the same class as John.  She tried to

overlook the painful fact that he had bullied her precious sons-

Castor and Pollux, causing withdrawn behaviour on their part.

Eventually she had involved Mr Milford-Haven, who had been

unable to address the issue.

It was only when he had passed the case on to Mr Augustus

Snodbury, The Senior Master, that the name-calling (‘Bastard

and Bollocks’ or ‘Custard and Pillock’) had stopped.

Maybe it was because Mr Snodbury took to abbreviating

Boothroyd-Smythe’s surname to ‘B-S’ and wrote the bully boy’s

forename initial in Latin form, as a capital ‘I‘, thus rendering the

whole I B-S, which everyone, including all the Masters, knew stood for

Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Some felt this was a trifle cruel, but Snod said that the child had the

same miserable effect on one and all and that he personally required

a probiotic Actimel from the Staffroom fridge before he could face the

bete noire on a Monday, period one.

So, Mrs Willoughby found the effort of appearing sympathetic

somewhat challenging.  She endeavoured to adjust her facial

expression when Gisela complained:

He basically only utters a single word at any one time.  Sometimes I

worry that he might have Expressive Aphasia.

What’s that?  queried Brassie, suddenly wondering if it was contagious

as her boys exhibited something very similar.

It’s a neurological condition, explained Gisela.  There can be a lesion in

the part of the brain that controls speech.

But John spoke quite fluently until Year Five, didn’t he? commented


Um, yes, but he did receive a blow to the head during a rugby

match recently.  Apparently this condition can be initiated by trauma.

Brassie was worried now.   At the time she and Cosmo had

congratulated Castor for tackling the bully and bringing him down.

She stared into the fern motif in the chocolate powder of her Mocha.

Gisela was in her stride now.  He doesn’t reply when I call his name.

Oh, my two are just the same, but their father calls it Selective Hearing

and he is just as bad.  She unfolded her tablet and Googled Expressive…

What did you call it again?

Aphasia, supplied Gisela.

Oh, I think there is a girl in Tiger-Lily’s class called that.  Hang on…It says

that those who have been diagnosed with it cannot form syntactically

complex sentences.

You see!  interrupted Gisela.  That’s what John is like.

No, soothed Brassie.  I’d say that everyone is on a spectrum.  Hodor

Syndrome would be at one extreme and individuals probably reveal

varying degrees of the tendency.  That gushy woman we had to wait

behind at the Parents’ Evening probably exhibited the other extreme.

We can all communicate telegraphically.  I mean, I bumped my head

badly and nearly concussed myself when I was transfixed by a dress

in the window of ‘A La Mode’.  I walked straight into a Heritage lamp

post.  Cosmo says I’ve never been the same.  But, I wouldn’t think

John is morphing into Kristian Nairns, aka Hodor, just yet.

Kristian Nairn 2014.jpg

I did drop him on his head once when he was a baby, confessed

Gisela in a whisper, which was nevertheless overheard and instantly

processed by The Suttonford Grapevine.

Most mothers have done that, absolved Brassie.  I suppose that’s

why most husbands are men of few words.  She felt like The Vicar of

Dibley, only slimmer.  Should she prescribe some penance?

But don’t girls get dropped too? asked Gisela with disarming logic.

They seem to be more robust cranially-speaking, said Brassie.

Maybe it is an evolutionary adaptation to inure them to survival

after being dumped in later life.

The minute she had tactlessly uttered this, she regretted it,

given Gisela’s recent divorce.  Have another Pastel-de-nata, she

distracted.  Go on.  You deserve it.


MargaretCafe PasteisDeNata.JPG

Portuguese custard tart, after Jamie Oliver.

I think it is a Lisa Faulkener recipe, actually, clarified the barista,

removing their used plates.

Tanto faz! Gisela brightened.

Manuel Waiter.jpg

Que? said Brassie, attempting a quizzical Manuel impression.

Whatever, Gisela laughed and sank her veneers into one of the

seriously moreish roundels.

The Scottish Play


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mrs Connolly, the housekeeper, was chopping some root vegetables

for a hearty broth.

This’ll stick tae yer ribs, she promised.

I was thinking a salad might have been more appropriate in this

clement weather, suggested Diana.

Never cast a cloot till May is oot.  There could be snow yet, Mrs

Syylk.  Aye, we could have a blizzard before the elections.

And how will you vote? Mrs C, asked Diana.  Who impressed

you in the televised debate?

Well, the wee lassie certainly wiped the flair wi’ the lot o’

them, she opined.  But jist because she could handle

hersel’ in the verbal, it disnae follow that she’s no’ speakin’

a load o’ sh…Sugar!

Mrs Connolly!  Please.  I get your drift and I must say that

I do agree with you regarding the policies she endorses.  As

for UKIP…

Nigel Farage MEP 1, Strasbourg - Diliff.jpg

Pardon me, Mrs S, but Ah canna abide that Lavage mannie.

Farage, corrected Diana.  Lavage is a type of gastric


Mair like gastric irritation, Mrs C riposted.  Ah huv tae take

an Omeprazole efter hearing ony o’ his drivel.  Och, don’t

get me started!

Diana didn’t think she had.

Tell me aboot yer night oot wi’ Mr Syylk. She attempted to

change the subject.  All this havering jist gets me doon.

We went to see a production of Macbeth at the local school.

You should call it The Scottish Play, warned Mrs C.  She

stirred the broth as if she was First Witch: All hail McSturgeon

that shall be queen hereafter! she cackled, revealing her very

sound Scottish Senior Secondary education from The Sixties.

Diana laughed: Salmond still lives.  Why does she dress in

borrowed robes? Treason’s capital…[will] overthrow him. 

Is execution done on Miliband?

Nothing in his party would become him like the leaving of it,

quipped Mrs C.

But seriously, everyone was saying ‘What bloody woman is

that? after the debate continued Diana.  She unseamed them-

all the knaves, all the chaps; and made as if to fix their heads

upon her battlements, screeching: ‘Ay, in the catalogue ye go

for men!’

Aye, and the ither females were jist her chamberlains.  All were

too weak when faced wi’ the Braveheart lass.  She dares do all that

may become a man and some of they wumman politicians look as if

they are halfway there..  Aah, I feel faint at the thought. Don’t get

me a sturgeon, though.  After a dramatic pause, she probed: Whit

aboot that big jessie, Cameron?

He’s too busy echoing the lines: We will establish our estate upon

Boris, Theresa or George, I fear.

Theresa May - Home Secretary and minister for women and equality.jpg

So, she’s tae get away wi’ pouring her sweet milk of apparent

concord into hell and causing uproar to the universal peace,

confounding all unity on earth and…

…instigating yet another bloody referendum! shrieked Diana.

Oh, Scotland, Scotland.  Fit to govern?  Even Alex has banished

himself. Mind you, we have scotch’d that snake, but no’ killed it.

O, my breast… (here she pounded her poitrine with the wooden

spoon) …Thy hope ends here.

Diana was becoming over-enthusiastic.  She stood up on her

kitchen chair.  Yes, and then Miliband says, It looks like rain


But it always looks like rain here, Mrs S.

Suspend your disbelief as Nicola has instructed you, prompted

Diana.  Let’s fast-forward to the banquet scene.

Scone? Mrs C wrinked her brow.

No, I’m not hungry, Diana said.  Oh, I see what you mean-

No, she’s already crowned herself.

Ah hope there’ll no be ony ghosts, Mrs C wavered.

MSC 2014 Blair Mueller MSC2014 (cropped).jpg

We’ve had the spectre of Blair already, but everyone pretended

he was invisible, Diana assured her. Now, like Mrs Thatcher…

God rest her soul! Mrs C bowed her head.

…The First Minister is already adopting the Royal ‘we’.

Ourself will mingle with society? queried Mrs C.

Precisely.  Then she says to herself:’Be bloody, bold and

resolute and laugh to scorn/ The power of men.

We’re into Act 4 now, nodded Mrs C., keeping her eye on the


Diana, still standing on the chair, surveyed the landscape from

her kitchen window: Scotland has not foisons enough to fill her


Nor oil reserves, added Mrs C.

Diana nearly fell off the chair as there was a sudden sound of

applause.  It was Murgatroyd, who had returned early from an


Oh, but how will we end it? Diana was disappointed to be


Can I have the epilogue? asked her husband.  You know, the last

word that I rarely have the pleasure to express.

Go ahead, replied Diana and Mrs C sat down and mopped her brow

with the tea towel.

Murgatroyd took a deep breath and intoned:

This murderous shaft that’s shot

Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way

Is to avoid the aim.

Ah take it that ye’ll no’ be votin’ SNP then , Mr Syylk? observed

Mrs C.

You have hit the nail upon the head as usual Mrs C.  Now,

is there a bowl of broth for a hungry man?

And Mrs C reverted to her housekeeping duties and forsook

her thespian tendencies- for the moment.

Nae bother, sir.



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