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Diana Fotheringay-Syylk, prematurely retired ‘Lax‘ Mistress from St Vitus’ School

For The Academically-Gifted Girl, had been trying to read The Weekend

Magazine from The Financial Times while she was being transported around the

Loiret by her local coach firm from Bradford-on-Avon.  She was staying in a 2*

hotel near Sully-sur-Loire, along with other members of her town’s Twinning

Association.

She had been allowed to bring along a ‘friend‘ and her daughter, since two

people had dropped out at the last minute and there had been seats left

vacant.

Behind Diana was her erstwhile lover, Augustus Snodbury, who was still in

educational harness, so to speak, at St Birinus Middle School.  Their daughter

Drusilla had closed her eyes, but this did not shut out the low, burring sound

which emanated from her father’s rather hairy nostrils.

And what exactly is a Lax Mistress? I hear you question, Dear Reader.

It was a trainer for a particularly vicious outdoor team game played by

innocent-looking maidens, armed with strong lobster nets on poles.

Innocent-looking, in general, but the goalies were of a different, scary

order.

Diana was trying to concentrate on her favourite The Shrink and the

Sage article.

This guide to modern dilemmas by a psychotherapist and philosopher

duo fascinated her.  Diana was looking forward to being a member of the

congregation at The Feast of the Transfiguration in Fleury Abbey and the

rhetorical question which headed the columns struck her with a force as

convincing as the Damascene beam of light which had struck St Paul and

floored him.

It read: Are we compassionate enough?

Diana had been seeking a spiritually significant experience by venturing

on this trip.  Nothing less than an epiphany would satisfy her.  She had

opened her mind and heart to receive any messages that might be

forthcoming.  But could the divine voice speak through The Financial

Times?  She then remembered Balaam’s ass and thought that all things

might be possible.

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A psychologist called Paul Gilbert was being quoted as having stressed that

one must be kind to oneself, as well as to others.  He warned against two

evolution-shaped drives-firstly, the detection and subsequent escape from

danger and, secondly, the drive to acquire things we want, such as food

and sexual partners.

The article recommended a David Cameron-like state of sensing that we are

all..on this journey together.

Here Snod’s snoring seemed to rise in volume and objection.  Already she

was in danger of lapsing into compassion fatigue.

When we are irritated by others, Gilbert said, we should remember that

they are mere humans, like ourselves, who cannot help getting things

wrong sometimes.

But she didn’t snore, did she?  She would check with Drusilla later on,

since they were sharing a room.  Come to think of it, she remembered Dru

buying some ear plugs in Boots, before they set off.

Gilbert mentioned something called compassion under the duvet, which

fortunately was only a practice of reminding ourselves to be kind to others

before we climbed out of bed in the morning.

Suddenly, the scales fell from Diana’s eyes and she realised that she could

now forgive Gus for his appalling ineptitude, if not for his snoring.

He had been clumsy at their attempted reunion at The Longs Arms, but maybe

it had been down to nerves and possibly they could travel hopefully together

and arrive at the same destination one day- so long as it did not involve any

sharing of duvets, other than of the moral variety.

The Sage explained the etymology of the abstract noun, compassion.  It came

from com and pati, meaning to suffer together.

Having both taught for a number of years, they could empathise with each

others’ pain.  She determined to avail herself of any lessons that she might

be offered during the service, but she could sense that her transformation

had only just begun.  Pity that it sounded like a song from The Carpenters.

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