Actimel, expressive aphasia, Game of Thrones, heritage lamp post, Hodor, irritable bowel syndrome, Jamie Oliver, Kristian Nairns, Laocoon, Lisa Faulkener, Manuel, Mocha, Pastel-de-nata, penance, Portuguese custard tart, Vicar of Dibley, Year Five
(photo by Luca Masters from Chocowinity, NC, USSA)
John Boothroyd-Smythe was winding up his mother
It was the Easter break and he was supposed to be
revising. However, the state of his bedroom was not
conducive to serious study, his parent felt.
She threatened to dock his allowance if he didn’t put
his dirty clothing into the laundry bin, but he just shrugged
and muttered, Whatever.
Your name isn’t Hodor, by any chance? she remonstrated.
Not a flicker.
You know- that character in Game of Thrones. The one who
only utters a single word.
John grunted and did not avert his gaze from his computer
Oh, I give up! Gisela expostulated, depositing his underwear
and sundry soiled garments on the floor. Some socks entwined
themselves into a tangled series of knots that would have given
Laocoon a tourniquet or two. Why do you have to be so
Later, in Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe, Gisela was sharing
her woes with a vaguely interested acquaintance.
Brassica had twin boys in the same class as John. She tried to
overlook the painful fact that he had bullied her precious sons-
Castor and Pollux, causing withdrawn behaviour on their part.
Eventually she had involved Mr Milford-Haven, who had been
unable to address the issue.
It was only when he had passed the case on to Mr Augustus
Snodbury, The Senior Master, that the name-calling (‘Bastard
and Bollocks’ or ‘Custard and Pillock’) had stopped.
Maybe it was because Mr Snodbury took to abbreviating
Boothroyd-Smythe’s surname to ‘B-S’ and wrote the bully boy’s
forename initial in Latin form, as a capital ‘I‘, thus rendering the
whole I B-S, which everyone, including all the Masters, knew stood for
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Some felt this was a trifle cruel, but Snod said that the child had the
same miserable effect on one and all and that he personally required
a probiotic Actimel from the Staffroom fridge before he could face the
bete noire on a Monday, period one.
So, Mrs Willoughby found the effort of appearing sympathetic
somewhat challenging. She endeavoured to adjust her facial
expression when Gisela complained:
He basically only utters a single word at any one time. Sometimes I
worry that he might have Expressive Aphasia.
What’s that? queried Brassie, suddenly wondering if it was contagious
as her boys exhibited something very similar.
It’s a neurological condition, explained Gisela. There can be a lesion in
the part of the brain that controls speech.
But John spoke quite fluently until Year Five, didn’t he? commented
Um, yes, but he did receive a blow to the head during a rugby
match recently. Apparently this condition can be initiated by trauma.
Brassie was worried now. At the time she and Cosmo had
congratulated Castor for tackling the bully and bringing him down.
She stared into the fern motif in the chocolate powder of her Mocha.
Gisela was in her stride now. He doesn’t reply when I call his name.
Oh, my two are just the same, but their father calls it Selective Hearing
and he is just as bad. She unfolded her tablet and Googled Expressive…
What did you call it again?
Aphasia, supplied Gisela.
Oh, I think there is a girl in Tiger-Lily’s class called that. Hang on…It says
that those who have been diagnosed with it cannot form syntactically
You see! interrupted Gisela. That’s what John is like.
No, soothed Brassie. I’d say that everyone is on a spectrum. Hodor
Syndrome would be at one extreme and individuals probably reveal
varying degrees of the tendency. That gushy woman we had to wait
behind at the Parents’ Evening probably exhibited the other extreme.
We can all communicate telegraphically. I mean, I bumped my head
badly and nearly concussed myself when I was transfixed by a dress
in the window of ‘A La Mode’. I walked straight into a Heritage lamp
post. Cosmo says I’ve never been the same. But, I wouldn’t think
John is morphing into Kristian Nairns, aka Hodor, just yet.
I did drop him on his head once when he was a baby, confessed
Gisela in a whisper, which was nevertheless overheard and instantly
processed by The Suttonford Grapevine.
Most mothers have done that, absolved Brassie. I suppose that’s
why most husbands are men of few words. She felt like The Vicar of
Dibley, only slimmer. Should she prescribe some penance?
But don’t girls get dropped too? asked Gisela with disarming logic.
They seem to be more robust cranially-speaking, said Brassie.
Maybe it is an evolutionary adaptation to inure them to survival
after being dumped in later life.
The minute she had tactlessly uttered this, she regretted it,
given Gisela’s recent divorce. Have another Pastel-de-nata, she
distracted. Go on. You deserve it.
Portuguese custard tart, after Jamie Oliver.
I think it is a Lisa Faulkener recipe, actually, clarified the barista,
removing their used plates.
Tanto faz! Gisela brightened.
Que? said Brassie, attempting a quizzical Manuel impression.
Whatever, Gisela laughed and sank her veneers into one of the
seriously moreish roundels.