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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

truthful- usually-disruptive.

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

sidelong glance.

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

Bourbon biscuits.

Married, she muttered.  And I never knew.

Cup of tea and bourbon biscuit.jpg