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What to buy for a PA when she has kindly typed up your oration’s

transcript for Speech Day?

Augustus Snodbury was somewhat lost in the aisles of Suttonford Garden

Centre when he suddenly bumped into The Previous Headmaster’s Wife.

He couldn’t remember her name and couldn’t very well call her ‘darling’.

Oh, what are you doing here? she asked, giving him a suspicious look,

which being interpreted read: Shouldn’t you be at your post of duty?

I’m- ah- looking for a present, he appealed to her.  Something floral.

Well, you’re in the right place.  I always say a rose goes down well.  There

are some lovely David Austin ones on offer.  And she pointed to the

signature green tubs.

Ah. Yes.  Benjamin Britten.  A climber? he asked.

No, he was a composer.  She looked at him as if he was stupid.

Nice colour.  Yes, I’ll take it.  No point in explaining.

And how is your dear husband? He attempted some small talk, which

didn’t come easily to him.  He had forgotten the name of his

predecessor in the unexpectedness of the encounter.

Ewan mcgregor cropped.jpg

His Moto Guzzi broke down.  Sand in the engine when he was on the last

leg, or wheel, to Erfoud.  Luckily he had a satellite phone, so he and his

side-kick contacted a mechanic near some kasbahs and had some goat

stew while the chap took three days to fix it.  I blame that Ewan

McGregor for encouraging all those oldies to mobilise themselves.  And,

everyone knows that you should never let an engine run rich.

Quite.  Ah- see you at Prize-giving.

As he put the rose on the back seat of his trusty vehicle, Boudicca,

he punctured his forefinger with a thorn.  Ouch!

He nearly swooned at the sight of his own blood.  Where was

San Sister when you needed her?  When had he last had a Tetnus jab?

Then, as he tried to suck out the thorn, as if it was venom, he had an

epiphany, right there in the car park.

He was going to abandon that contrived speech which he had struggled to

produce.  Ideas were streaming into his mind and he drove back to school as

quickly as he could, without making the earth move in the plastic tub.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance!  He still had the book somewhere

and he was sure that it would yield a series of chautauquas which would

illuminate, yea irradiate his audience.  The boys would think his field of

reference cool and, while delivering his peroration, he could wear the silk

leather jacket that he had bought in Turkey, if it would stretch over his

burgeoning tum after a winter of too many Spotted Dicks and suet puddings.

Virginia might not like it if he asked her to type a new transcript, but he

would phone Drusilla; she would help him.