Snodbury

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Krilleyekils.jpg

(Compound Eye of Antarctic Krill: Wikipedia.  Photo by Gerd Alberti and

Uwe Kils)

 

Snodbury was actually his mother’s surname, he believed.

She had waltzed off to Venezuela, following her political dreams

and had settled down with a salsa musician, producing his half-

brother.

Aunt Augusta ( Editor:In Retrospect May She Rest In Peace and Rise In

Glory!) had deposited him, as a confused four year old, in St Birinus’

Pre-Prep Department, where he might have turned into a pre-pubescent

Scrooge, given that he was often forgotten at half terms.

It was not the first time that Gus (Snod) had had the distinct sensation

that someone was standing behind him whilst he was shaving.  Through

the condensation he wondered if, like another sweet young prince, he was

about to encounter his ghostly father.  There were more surprising things

in Heaven and Earth, he was sure.

He felt that it was not entirely down to thespian self-delusions that he

could summon up a vague remembrance of an encounter with a man

called Arthur in some school holidays.  The visits were etched on his

consciousness as they were marked by the gifts of a piece of Hornby

kit and a Rev Awdry book.

Aunt Augusta would collect him and take him on the train all the way

to Kent and then they would take a taxi to Wivern Mote.

His aunt and Arthur would sit round the fire in the converted stable block,

drinking mulled wine, if it was a Christmas Holiday, and gin and tonic, if

it wasn’t.  He remembered the odd silver cups from which the wine had

been imbibed.  They had embossed foxes’ heads on them.  He had been

drinking Ribena from a tooth mug and had asked about them.  He

remembered now: they were stirrup cups, he had been informed.

When it was time to go, he had to shake Arthur’s hand with his own

mittened fingers and he grew to anticipate the half crown that would

be passed into his woolly palm.  It was never a two shilling piece.  He

could tell, without looking- which would have been rude-just by feeling

the milled edge.  Yes, Arthur had been generous, if enigmatic.

It wouldn’t seem long before he was back to the security of school- that

same establishment to which he had dedicated not only the best years

of his life,but the majority of them.  The only noteworthy hiatus was

when he had studied Classics at university and had then returned like

the Biblical dog…

The toilet paper he had licked and stuck to his shaving nick fell off.  He

hoped the wound would heal more quickly than the childhood scars he

was well aware of bearing into advanced adulthood.

Catharsis‘- that was le mot juste.  If he could only lance the boil of his

carbuncular life, he felt the bloodletting would be beneficial.  There had

been so many toxic infections visited upon him in the course of his

school-masterly life.

He laughed to himself:  Pus in Boots!  This was the way his tangential mind

roved around, seeking bad puns.

Yes, Dear Reader, the exploration of the life and times of this apparent

nonentity will be the very means whereby he may be purged and brought

to a hopeful re-birth (but not in any Dianetical way, I assure you.)

By tracing his twig’s development on The Tree of Life, by exploring

different starting points, he hoped to arrive at the identical solution: himself.

The Biology teacher had explained convergent evolution to him, but I won’t

bore you with an elucidation now.

He had also wished that he could see the world through a compound eye-

to see himself as others saw him and to see himself more clearly.

Perhaps with ocular enhancement he would avoid any more shaving nicks…

Snod’s Law

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Tête de Bonnard (Portrait photograph of Pierre Bonnard), c.1899, Musée d'Orsay.jpg

(Tete de Bonnard)

 

Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master at St Birinus Middle School peered

into his fogged up shaving mirror in the manner of Bonnard, but sans

le Maitre’s obsession with la salle de bain.  Was it just the bain– or the

occupant thereof?

He drew his razor across his chin.

Merde!   Marthe.  Strange coincidence that the two words are so similar. 

Bien sur, Marthe is a proper noun and merde is …well. merde is…  Cela ne

fait rien…

(He only swore in foreign languages- usually of the moribund  variety.

Mehercule! was another well-favoured expletive…)

It was Sod’s Law that he should nick himself just before Parents’ Evening.

Au contraire- it was, en effet, Snod’s Law- absolument typique.

There seemed to be some underlying thermodynamic law which ensured

that every literal slice of toast that he would ever drop in his allotted

threescore years and – hopefully plus- would land sunny side down on the

fluffy lino of his kitchenette.

Once he had tried to fathom out the underlying principle, but he had grown

exasperated by the philosophical discussions re/ context sensitivity and

causality.  He usually just scraped the spread off and hoped for the best.

If the odious mater of the dreaded Boothroyd-Smythe boy should smell

blood, she would, no doubt, be after his teacher like a pack leader at a

drag hunt. She would want to ‘discuss’ her infant sauvage/ sauvant’s

penultimate ink exercise-at length.

Each parent/ guardian had been given a four minute and forty nine

seconds’ window of opportunity.  There were others to be seen-and heard-

so Snod had planned his personal defenestration technique, which

involved a pre-set travelling alarm clock.  The previous time he had tried

to utilise the device, it had been confiscated by the school caretaker, who

said it might be mistaken for an incendiary device.

 I mean-mehercule!- Snod had remonstrated- do I look like a terrorist, man?

The caretaker had not ventured an opinion, other than to reinforce that

it was against ‘Elf and Safety.

Snod wiped the condensation away with his pyjama sleeve and applied

pressure to the little bleeder (not the caretaker, you understand.  We are

back in the privacy of the lavatory.) However, the flow was not to be

easily stemmed.  Neither would Mrs B-S ( ‘Irritable Bowel- Syndrome’ was

how he thought of her)…neither would the aforesaid indignant parent

tolerate any hypothetical exploration of her son’s behaviour.  She also

was difficult to staunch.  Snod wondered if her ex-husband had found

the same difficulty in dealing with her when she was in full spout.

Counter factuals interested her as little as the laws of thermodynamics,

or grammar, for that matter, he considered.

Well, we are living in an age where no one cares about the subjunctive, he

mused, so why would anyone contemplate the ‘what ifs’, or the hypothetical

‘other’?

Who do you think you are, Mr Snodbury? she had written in a note delivered

to his poste restante, ergo his pigeonhole in the staff-room.  How could you

give my gifted son such a discouraging assessment when he has an IQ of

160, which is, no doubt, sixty points above most of the masters’ scores in this

establishment?

He could predict that she would bang on about some theory of Copernican

mediocrity, ad tedium.

But the initial interrogative got beneath his skin, just as his rasoir had.

After some meditation, he considered that her opening gambit was not

so much a rhetorical question, but rather, a declaration of war.

He stuck a shred of toilet paper over the wound.  But maybe she had a

point…

Who am I? he asked himself, while recognising the reflexive modal aspect

of the verb. ( I don’t mean the verb ‘to be‘; I refer to his self-examination.)

He had never felt the need of a gap year, to go off and find himself, but a

sabbatical would have been nice.

That genealogy programme was popular, he knew: the one where

celebrities discovered that their direct lines went all the way back to

William the Conqueror.

Whose didn’t? he thought.  We are all five handshakes from…whom?  Am I

really descended from Genghis Khan, or Attila the Hun, as the boys suspect?

Well, so long as I am not related to Boris Johnson, in spite of our shared

love of the Classics!

He had always felt that he was the terminal bud on a twig which had been

grafted onto someone else’s native tree.

Maybe he should exhibit some natural curiosity and find out the truth of

his generation- etymologically-speaking.

Whatever truth is, as Pilate once so eloquently said, he mused aloud.

It seems to have stopped haemorrhaging now.  I can’t be haemophiliac, so

my blood-line can’t be true blue.

 

 

Are you sitting comfortably?

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Theresa May UK Home Office (cropped).jpg

(www.flickr.com/ photos/ home office)

I can’t believe that Candia is leaving Suttonford after defending it against

accusations of cupcake fascism, commented Chlamydia, as she sipped

an iced coffee.

I know, rejoindered Brassica.  She is deserting us and going off to The

Cotswolds, to investigate the charity shops of Witney, in case they receive

any SamCam cast-offs.

Yes, that was a nice Roksanda frock Samantha wore outside Downing Street,

on their last day- the orange and navy number.  That Nancy was a nice big

sister and the little one…

Flo?  Brassie supplied.

Yes, Flo.  She was an attractive little girl.  Very natural.

‘Frock!’  It’s a long time since I heard that descriptor.  It sounds a bit rude,

laughed Brassie.

Anyway, where does Mother Theresa live?  Not that I would thank you

for her Vivienne Westwood tartan trouser suit.

No, the PM doesn’t occupy the inglenooks of deepest Pre-Raphaelite territory,

nor does she seem to partake of pot suppers with the MP for Witney and his

set.  I believe she lives in Maidenhead…  The trouser suit is a bit of a favourite,

so I don’t think she’ll be disposing of it anytime soon to a charitable

establishment.

At least she had the sense not to wear it when visiting Bute House.   Wearing

tartan in front of the Scots is like proclaiming that you are an American golfer and/

or feature Trump on your family tree.  

I suppose it would be a bit of a red rag to a bull in the case of La Sturgeon. 

However, I must say that our Candia is going to have some interesting

neighbours, expatiated Brassie.  Kate Moss lives down the road and Alex from

‘Blur’ makes cheese on a farm somewhere in the vicinity.

I once heard Juniper Boothroyd-Smythe call him a ‘swoonbag,’ Clammie

remarked. Don’t you just love the neologisms these kids create, or pick up?

I walked in at that precise moment.

What’s a ‘swoonbag?’  I asked.

Oh, Alex from ‘Blur,’  Brassie explained.  Isn’t he going to be on your

doorstep?

Not if I can help it, I said firmly.  Who is he anyway?

He makes cheese, Clammie clarified.

Oh.  Well, I haven’t got time for farmers’ markets and all that,

I replied.  Not at the moment.  I have to create  denouement for all my

Suttonfordian Chronicles.  You know that I have left my characters

stranded in The Borders, on the brink of matrimony.  Brexit finished

me off. I didn’t know whether they would have the will to carry on

and whether they would settle in Scotland, or apply for emigration visas.

Diana and Murgatroyd will surely remain ( sorry, unintended pun) in

the pele tower?  Brassie queried.

If wee Nicola gives them a passport.  Dru and Nigel still have to work

down south and Nigel’s mother would refuse to leave Cornwall.  Her

allegiance is to King Arthur, or King Mark, or someone. 

What about Virginia and Snod?  Clammie enquired.

Yes, what about them?  I agreed.  Everyone is losing track of their

narrative.  I think I will start at the very beginning,  to orientate my

readers.  Neither character has their pensions yet, so I don’t know if

Snod will just go ahead and retire anyway.

But Virginia loves her micromanagement PA job,  Brassie submitted.

Don’t all wives?  She would have plenty of scope in re-shaping Gus,

I suggested.  Anyway, I am going to post a resume. It’s been so long

that I can’t remember myself how it all started.

Bonne idee!  smiled Brassie.  I can never remember how it all began.

Are you sitting comfortably?

They both collected a Cath Kidston seat pad, settled on the hard

bistro chairs and hung on my every word.

Cupcake Fascism

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(Mindmatrix 21/5/2010 (UTC) uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot)

Brassica was devastated.

I was just reading ‘The Hamster Chronicle’ and came across some

philosopher guy who has just taken a sledgehammer to the values

of the inhabitants of a town not too far from here.  It is linked to a

2014 article in ‘The Guardian’ and  I found it a terrible excoriation of

market town mentality.  He’s called  Tom Whyman and he has denounced

all we Suttonfordian-types as ‘cupcake fascists.’

I didn’t even vote ‘Leave.’  And, if I order a ‘nice cup of tea’, he says it

will only go to show that I have a stiff upper lip which is, ‘dialectically

speaking’ a sign of cowardice.

Well, have your usual Macchiato instead, I advised.  Look, in all the

years we have been convening in Costamuchamoulah must-seen

cafe, we have never once digested a cupcake.  You would never allow

one to pass your stiff, or otherwise, upper or lower lips.

That’s because it is yummy mummy fodder, she smiled through

watery tears. And we could never be accused of being in that

particular category.

And to what category do we belong?  Remind me.

Passive-aggressive, twee, retrospective diehards who lisp while

strumming along to ukeleles- according to him.

Her lower lip wobbled.

I took the article from her and skim-read it.

And have you ever taken up such an instrument?

Of course not.

Was that because you found such an activity incompatible with

your  desire to impose your bourgeois values on all and sundry, as

this postgrad Whyman suggested-nay- stated?

No!  It’s because that odious little man gave me a window

cleaners’ complex.

Which odious little man? Formby?

Yes, every time our window cleaner arrives unannounced, I have to

run upstairs and close all my curtains, in case he is a voyeur.  That film-

‘Gregory’s Girl’- didn’t help.  You remember that bit when the premature,

but sexually mature school leaver who has a lucrative job to do with

fenestration pronounces: ‘ If I don’t see you next week, I’ll see you through

a windae’?

Oh, well-pronounced.  You sounded nothing like a Suttonfordian.  Your

gentrification slipped as easily as a window cleaner falling off his ladder,

I snorted.

So, you think Suttonfordians should not worry about being

stereotyped by a Harry Potter lookalike, even if he did have an article

accepted by ‘The New York Times?’

I think that the brutality of your perceived ‘niceness’ should see off a

pseud like him with one flourish of your vintage pashmina.  We could

compose a salvo and have it published in ‘The Huffington Post.’  So what?

We have better things to do.

Hmm, you know I am going to have a cupcake just to prove that

I can and that it has nothing to do with how I voted.

(Brassie was defiant.)

Personally, I can’t stand the sickly sweetness of the butter cream

icing, but I will join you in an act of radical point scoring against

anyone who could foul his own nest, as he seems to have done,

considering he was brought up in the hated location.

The thing that really got to me was that he said he was a

philosopher, Brassie persisted.  And I didn’t think his argument

was very logical.

Hah!  I laughed, selecting the gooiest sweetmeat which contained

the greatest density of food colouring and the vilest polka dot paper

case.  It is all an exemplifiacation of ‘The No True Scotsman Fallacy.’

You mean like ‘One swallow doesn’t prove that the summer has

arrived?’

Brassie actually gets to the nub of things fairly quickly sometimes.

Yes, we live in Suttonford and we are the exceptions to the rule.  Yet we

are probably still reactionary bitches in his view.

But he doesn’t know us.

True, but, if he did, it would only confirm his worst opinions.  But, once

he is older and wiser and re-reads ‘The Republic’, he may be reminded

that the visible world is the least knowable and the most obscure,

according to Socrates.

I thought Plato wrote….

He did.  Oh, never mind.  Here!  Get your teeth round this one.  Have

another cup of tea.

So, Suttonford is an example, like Alresford, of a paradoxical

analogy?

Precisely.  And you have to have left the cave of provinciality in

order to attain the ability to rule and to see clearly. He keeps climbing

out, but returns, like a dog to the vomit, to quote a Biblical simile,

to plumb the provincial depths, with a frequency that suggests that

he is a secret speleological lover of all the things he pretends to hate.

Like cupcakes?

Yes, probably even cupcakes.  He’s possibly a closet cupcake fascist.  He may

be a ‘Krispy Kreme’ doughnut man in the city and a cupcake lover in

the country.  How very Wildean!

I’d call that hypocritical, Brassie averred.

You’re not the only one, apparently, I observed, taking a look at some of

the replies and comments on Social Media.  But I like his neologism

‘Alresfordism.’  Maybe it is akin to Suttonfordianism.

Yes, but which is the easier to pronounce?

The one you form with your mouth untainted by cupcake crumbs.

 

 

 

 

Boris (Not Quite) Goodunuv

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File:The Death of Boris 1874.jpg

The Death of Boris

Having sung ‘I have attained supreme power’, he joins the Chorus to sing ‘The Funeral Bell’ before expiring.

c Candia Dixon-Stuart 30/06/2016

Dead Donkey

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Animal Farm - 1st edition.jpg

I’m with Benjamin on this one, I said, sipping my Macchiato.

Benjamin? Brassica interjected.

Yes, the cynical one.

You surprise me.  Brassie can be ironic sometimes.

Yes, we are all being taken to the knacker’s yard in a battle bus.  No one can

read what it says on the side. Benjamin had a good memory.  Things can

never be much better or much worse.  Hunger, hardship and disappointment

are the unalterable laws of life.

You surely don’t believe that, Candia?  What about the vision of Sugarcandy

Mountain?  We can build our own windmills. The Three Brexiteers

have promised that we will all be better off and the NHS and pensions

will benefit our own old and retired once again.

Hmmm, do you recall that by the fourth year of Animalism and

independence, Animal Farm depended completely on its trade with

the wider world?  Rations were reduced and lighting was cut in the stalls.

There was no such outcome as the three day week and the full

manger.

Yes, Candia, but the animals had a feeling of dignity and held

spontaneous demonstrations to celebrate their own triumphs.

Yeah, and a lot of history was re-written as well.  The animals felt

that they had re-gained what they had before.  As for Snowball and

Napoleon, they were in cahoots with the Enemies and eventually

traded with whichever partner promoted their own selfish,

unprincipled desires.

So, who do you reckon are Snowball and Napoleon?

I leave it entirely to your own judgement, comrade.

So, are you on your way to vote now?  Remember, old Jones was not

so bad, even if he was a Fascist.

Yes, I had better watch out for the low-flying campaigning pigeons.

I don’t want to be crapped on.  Nor do I want to be savaged by a band of

trained puppies.

And I left, humming ‘Beasts of England’ cynically.

Brassie appropriated a couple of sugar cubes for Post-Revolution

sustenance, adjusted her Alice band and went to check  her parking

ticket on the gleaming new dog cart, between whose shafts she

willingly reined herself.

As for moi?

Well, no one has ever seen a dead donkey.  And being interested in

etymology, I remind you that le bon mot: ‘revolution’ has the inbuilt

concept of ending up exactly where you started.

 

 

Thicker Than Water

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St Michael the Archangel, Findlay, OH - bread and wine crop 1.jpg

St Michael the Archangel, Findlay,Ohio- Nheyob, 2011, cropped by Tahc.

 

I told you I am fixated on the sestina as a poetic form!

 

We are one because we share in one blood,

declares the priest, trying to evoke love,

in spite of all the centuries of rifts

and shameful practices within God’s family.

We gather in an act of reconciliation,

erasing the thromboses from the past.

 

Can we negate, wipe out the shameful past?

There’s an indelibility in blood.

No matter how we crave reconciliation,

we cannot will coagulation, love;

we cannot commandeer family

and force relations to cement their rifts.

 

Inevitably there will be rifts

in the heart’s polar regions; ice sheets from the past

crack, fissure, melt. And, in the family,

though connections are through blood,

they can only be maintained by love

and transfusions of reconciliation.

 

And every time we achieve reconciliation,

broach the breaches; bridge the gaping rifts,

we spin the web of Love;

we dialyse those platelets from the past

and filter those corpuscles of bad blood,

for the holistic health of our family.

 

But what about the wider family?

If we attain reconciliation

in the microcosm of our kith, kin and blood,

could we extend goodwill to rifts

of a global nature?  In the past

progress has only come about through love.

 

Sharing a meal can be a sign of love-

introducing the stranger to one’s family;

cancelling out the debts of the past,

in order to gain reconciliation;

throwing out lifelines that span rifts;

being prepared to become blood-

 

brothers, for the sake of the human family;

ultimate reconciliation; burying of the past;

grafting rifts and banking some good blood.

 

Leopard after Dark

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Hi, Ai Weiwei!

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Couldn’t resist having a go at re-creating the NGV posters in Melbourne, advertising the Warhol and Ai Weiwei combined show….

Love,

Candia.

IMG_3953

New Release

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Its Own Place Cover

Dixon-Stuart books have just made this anthology available on Amazon.

Candia thoroughly recommends this insightful read to all her followers.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heaven of Hell,

A Hell of Heaven…

John Milton: Paradise Lost, Bk 1.

 

 

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