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Augustus Snodbury, Acting Head of St Birinus Middle School, looked out

on his assembled staff.  It was the first meeting of 2014 and he felt

uncomfortable in The Headmaster’s chair, amid so many grumpy men.

He nodded curtly to Geoffrey Poskett, relaying an unspoken message

which underlined the transmission that their coincidental holiday

encounter was, in no way, to imply any kind of partiality or informality

now that they were back in their normal routine.

Yawn! Yawn!  There were the usual parental missives, if not missiles,

informing staff of snowboarding fractures.  Then there were Boys To Be

Discussed.  This provoked an excited background hum and Snod had to

lay down the law firmly:  One of you may buzz, I mean, speak.

The School Calendar had been printed at the end of the previous term,

but was now distributed.  Usually each fixture had to be gone over in fine

tooth detail, but Snod pronounced: Well, you can all read, I suppose, so, in

the manner of Jeremy Paxman at the start of University Challenge, I will just

invite you all to crack on.

Jeremy Paxman, September 2009 2 cropped.jpg

He eyed young Milford-Haven who was about to snaffle his own favourite

Bourbon biscuit from the trolley.  However, when the young puppy felt the

elder educator’s gimlet gaze bore into him, he eschewed his first choice

and opted for a Jammie Dodger instead.  Very wise as a future career

move.

No conferring! Snod emphasised.

He glanced at dates for the end of term and mused:  Oh, why does Easter

have to be so late this year?  If it is a moveable feast, then why can’t it

be shunted closer to release us all from scholastic torment?

Nigel Milford-Haven put up his hand.  As John Boothroyd-Smythe’s form

teacher, he felt compelled to put one and all in the picture re/ behavioural

issues and their mitigating causes.  One of these was that B-S’s sister had

apparently ‘come out‘ recently as being gender fluid.

I’ve heard of correcting fluid, remarked ‘old school’ Snodbury, but never the

sexual variety.  Pray, clarify.

Several know-it-alls who had been paying attention at the previous in-

house training on Psychosexual Proclivities and the Learning Process came

to attention and tried to contribute to the allegedly open forum.

One of you may answer! boomed Gus.  Well, fascinating though the subject

promises to be,..His olfactory sense had just radared that the first sitting

of lunch was a possibility.

Who is on Lunch Duty today? he asked.

Poskett, always poised for a hasty getaway, was crouching near the door.

I am, sir!  He bowed his head and fled.  He had known that they would

never get round to the pressing matter on his agenda.  Maybe next week!

he muttered.

A final notice, Snod declared.  The smell of faggots was making him lose

concentration.  You may be wondering how The Headmaster is.  The good

news is that he has not suffered a stroke.  Not even a TIA, to use a medical

acronym.  His wife assures us that he has only been experiencing mild

arrythmia, brought on by an arduous Autumn term, combined with an

overindulgent celebration on Christmas Eve.  And, if you have been reading

The Daily Mail lately, which, God Forbid any member of this illustrious

academic establishment would..

Here the aroma of hot beef olives, to use a more polite culinary term, was

really distracting..

…Where was I?  Oh, yes, apparently the acme of journalistic achievement

has suggested that some men d’un certain age develop irrational anxieties,

heart palpitations and alter their personality through low levels of

testosterone. (He stroked his new leather jacket in a spontaneous gesture

of subliminal self-awareness.)  They can even lose their..

Libido, supplied an earnest Milford-Haven, who was probably the only one

in the staffroom attempting to follow his drift.

Suddenly thirty two pairs of eyes widened and their owners ceased to

dwell on stuffing and onion gravy.

Snod coughed.  Aaagh, whatever! he agreed. Anyway, to cut a long story

short, his wife has persuaded him to combat excessive grumpiness by a

course of hormone injections, which should render him more..

Subservient! Milford-Haven nodded.

Compliant! re-stated Mr Snodbury, glaring at the exhibition of impatience

shown by the Junior Master.  He recognised a desire to conclude proceedings

in the worthy cause of nutrition.  But the boy should know his place.  He had

to restrain himself from awarding the member of staff an order mark and

detention.

So, not a word of this confidential information is to pass beyond these walls,

stressed The Acting Head.  He then had to watch everyone else exiting the

room before himself, which probably meant that he would have to go to the

second sitting in the dining room and there would be no faggots left.

Meanwhile, in a mockery of the Hippocratic oath, The Headmaster’s wife was

discussing her husband’s alarming symptoms in Costamuchamoulah must-

seen cafe, over two lattes, with the GP’s spouse, who was going to relay

the absorbing details to multiple caffeine addicts in the weeks to come.

cafe

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