Virginia, PA to the Acting Head of St Birinus Middle School, was curious.
A woman had just gone into Snod’s study and she wanted to know the
reason. She could have sworn that it was that Welsh woman who had
played the harp in the end of term concert. When Virginia went in with
tea and biscuits, silence descended until she had shown herself out
again. Still, she had taken a closer look and it was that woman from St
Vitus’ School for the Academically-Gifted Girl after all and she was wearing a
lovely gold necklace with a harp charm , so she must be Welsh.
She had just sat down at her computer when Nigel Milford-Haven, Junior
Master, knocked on her door.
Excuse me, but is Mr Snodbury free at the moment? he asked, his face, as
usual, pale with stress.
Regrettably not. Virginia loved blocking ordinary staff’s access to the highest
authority. He is in consultation with that Welsh teacher from the girls’ school-
the one who played the harp in the concert.
Welsh? Nigel expressed his confusion. She’s not Welsh.
Virginia wanted to interrogate him as to how a minion such as himself
could be privy to information about the ethnicity of his betters, but she
restrained herself and restricted her reply to: Well, why else would she be
wearing a harp round her neck? It would be like the Ancient Mariner being in
denial about his particular cervical-was that the right word?- decoration being
a proclamation that he was not the world’s biggest lover of all things
Nigel was hyper-aware that his form class would be destroying the room, so
he nervously answered quickly, before shooting off back to Purgatory: No, she
is Mr Snodbury’s daughter.
What? Are you certain? I didn’t know he was married! Virginia was seriously
discomfited. She had thought that she knew everything. He doesn’t wear a
Nigel flushed, partly with pleasure, now that he knew his anonymous present
of jewellery had been accepted. Well, please could I send John Boothroyd-
Smythe to stand outside your office? He is being unusually, or, to be more
Virginia nodded, not taking in the information. She was shell-shocked. She
would never have sought to ingratiate herself with a married man, seamed
stockings or not. Hers, I mean.
Mr Snodbury, married!
She knocked and went into the study to clear the cups and tray. Yes, he
was wearing a ring. Why had she not noticed this before? She stole a
They both had the same jowly profile and looked annoyed at her interruption.
As she used her elbow to exit the room, since neither Gus, nor Drusilla
offered to open the door, so deep were they in conversation, she collided
with a boy that she recognised all too well.
Not you again! she shouted. Don’t you understand in that infantile brain of
yours that we are all heartily sick and tired of your puerile and selfish
behaviour? Get back to your class and apologise to your teacher and if I ever
see you here again, I will personally not be responsible for what I do to you!
The semi-permanent smirk was wiped off John’s face and he fled with his tail
between his legs. No one had ever spoken to him like that before and he
immediately got the message.
Yes, Ms Fisher-Giles, he whispered, awestruck, and ran, practically wetting
Virginia’s seamed stockinged legs almost gave way under her and she
collapsed into her chair. Before she knew it she had eaten three
Married, she muttered. And I never knew.