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Nigel Milford-Haven was suffering frustration in St Birinus Middle’s

staff study.  He was trying to fix up a friendly mini-rugby match for

his Junior B team, but was denied access when he attempted to

Google Eton Porny C of E First School, Windsor, to get the phone

number of the sports master. He only had one study period that

morning and he was increasingly finding himself wasting time

through being blocked by the school’s over-rigorous firewall, which

had the aggression of a New South Wales inferno, he felt.  Level:

Catastrophic.

Even in the holidays, he had come into school in his own time, to

prepare some war poetry for his English class.  He had wanted to

print off Six Young Men by Ted Hughes.  The firewall interpreted this

as Six Fit Blokes and thwarted him.  What about Transitus A’s

Jabberwocky questions on portmanteaux?  Charles Lutwidge Dodson

was clearly a no-go area.

Uttering a mild expletive which his charges were prone to utilise in

the yard and which did not even merit a detention, he turned to the

geography worksheets that he had been typing.  The Malaysian

Peninsula and its Cash Crops had seemed a little more original than

the textbook’s playsafe options until he smugly typed in: Rubber.

Again- total obstruction!

His phone rang.  He jumped with guilt.  He had only landed on a

sepia photo of the young Alice in Wonderland model for a

nanosecond before quickly removing his virtual presence.  Surely it

couldn’t be the Thought Police already?  This was beginning to be

like 1984, only decades on.

 Hello, Child Protection Nemesis. I mean, hello. Milford-Haven, St

Birinus.

Hello, is that Nigel Milford-Haven? Or did you say St. Birinus?

Milford-Haven- yes, Nigel speaking.

Ah, just needed to check.

(Who would take the part of a single, male, housemaster?  Wasn’t

Napoleon Braithwaite in 3C’s father a defence lawyer?)

You see, the voice continued olagineously, you don’t know us, but

we are Fraser and Fraser.

He hadn’t taught any identical twins, had he?

And we have some potential good news for you.  We are probate

genealogists who look into the treasury’s bona vacantia unclaimed

estates and, passing over our 40% search fees, we have to tell you

that your great-aunt Julia Conroy-Haven, spinster, left a large parcel

of land and some property to be used for educational purposes in

perpetuity. However, in these times of austerity, the council

could no longer afford to maintain these assets as local

demographics had moved the infant population on, so to speak, and

therefore a builder developed the site for four luxury town houses.  As

one of the legal heirs, you may be entitled to a share in the proceeds.

But how did you find me? blurted Nigel, desperately trying to recall

Great Aunt Julia, lest he share the epic sin of ingratitude with Ronald

Reagan and the like- or was it Goneril and Regan? They hadn’t

covered King Lear in his B.Ed teacher training and he had always felt

the lack thereof..

Well, we use the Electoral Roll and the Records Office, but your

erstwhile neighbours were all too ready to get in on a slice of the

action and enjoyed their microsecond of televisual coverage while

proffering your forwarding address.

So I am the beneficiary?

One of them-yes. Through your great-uncle, your father being-ah-

sadly deceased.

Nigel could see a small apartment away from school begin to

materialise.  He could de-mote to bog standard schoolmaster,

without house duties.  Maybe part-time would be possible…He could

watch Only Connect in the privacy of his own home without Ralston

junior pestering him to help with his Latin prep.  Bona vacantia– he

must look that up! It must mean Open sesame!

Victoria Coren

So, if I sign up, how much am I due- after your cut, naturally?  Sorry

to be so blunt…

Not at all, Mr Milford-Haven.  You are thirteenth in line after your

great-uncle’s children and their offspring.

So…

I’d say that we will send you a cheque for £100.

The riverside apartment de-materialised rapidly and he could see

himself working till he was put on the Pathway and he didn’t mean

the one to prosperity.

Ah well, it would just about cover his petrol for the double journey

he would have to take to discuss directly next term’s fixtures with

the sports department of that curiously named school whose contact

details he was denied by Godzilla or some other ridiculous-sounding

internet protector.

 

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