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Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master at St Birinus’ School, near Suttonford,

shuffled his fundament in the uncomfortable chairs of the music school

concert.  Actually there was nothing unergonomic about the seating; he had

regrettably sat down on his Panama hat.

Monteverdi wasn’t really his milieu, but Drusilla, his daughter, had been

very keen to attend the Saturday night, end-of-course, culminatory

celebration of this weekly workshop, ever since she had discovered the

crumpled flyer in her handbag.  You will recall, Dear Reader, that Nigel

Milford-haven had given it to her when he had assisted with her luggage,

when they had left the school grounds at the end of term.

Gus’ surprise visit to the mother of his child had been a sudden whim of

Drusilla’s and, over all, the shock hadn’t killed Diana.  She had arranged a

mattress on the floor in her spare room and the disastrous previous

planned reconciliation in Lower Wraxall had been largely forgotten.  In fact,

Snod had treated both females to some rather tasty lunches in The Longs

Arms, in recompence for hospitality received.  They had enjoyed visiting the

Peto gardens at Iford Manor, but Snod’s holiday budget did not run to three

al fresco tickets for Acis and Galatea at £81 a throw.  Anyway, Diana would

have been more interested in a musical on aphids, followed by a cup of tea.

Front view of The Longs Arms

At the interval, a somewhat refreshed-looking Nigel Milford-Haven, Junior

Master, bounced up to the party of three and asked if they had enjoyed the

Beatus Vir. 

His tutelary cobwebs had been blown away in the rehearsals throughout the

week and he had forged a deeper association with Geoffrey Poskett, the school

choirmaster,who had picked up some very useful tips on conducting during the


Nigel was so glad that Geoffrey had invited him to take part.  It prevented

him from having to devote too much of his precious school holidays to visiting

his elderly and rather demanding mother in Cornwall.

Nigel was keen to impress Drusilla, so he solicitously brought her a rather

dispiriting glass of unchilled rose and left her mother to the ministrations

of her erstwhile lover.

You are going to adore the second half of the evening, he enthused.  We

have managed to erect-he blushed slightly and flushed a slightly darker

tone than the wine he had just produced –a screenWe can show part of The

Full Monteverdi film by John La Bouchardiere.

Oh, Drusilla brightened.  Is that the jolly one where the hunky guys strip off?

Eh, no.. I think you are confusing it with a rather more downmarket


He could read her disappointment.  No, it is based on the Fourth Book of

Madrigals.  It is sung by I Fagiolini..

I might have known, thought Dru. He seems over-friendly with that Geoffrey

chap.  She had spotted them sharing a score.  Her Italian wasn’t up to much,

but she could hazard an educated guess as to the meaning of the group’s title

and she didn’t think it had anything to do with beef olives, or a type of haricot.

Each singer is paired with an actor, Nigel explained, and the film reveals their

intense failing relationships.  At the end, all they can do is to contemplate

their lonely lives. He felt that the entire teaching profession would be able to

relate to this juxtaposition of high art and real life.

A pity, decided Drusilla.  He isn’t too bad-looking.  It’s always the same.

Excuse me, she said, handing Nigel the empty glass. I must find my mother.  I

think we may have left something in the oven.

It was one of the least creative excuses he had heard and, believe me, he

had heard quite a few over the years-mostly over non-produced prep.  He took

it that his own non-existent love life was set to continue.

Can I take that glass for you? Suddenly Poskett was at his side.  The film is

about to start.

The three empty chairs-empty except for a battered Panama- hinted at a

failed courtship ritual.  The singers began to weave the mournful agonies of

their complicated webs of interaction.