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(photo by Luca Masters from Chocowinity, NC, USSA)

John Boothroyd-Smythe was winding up his mother

as usual.

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


Laocoon and His Sons.jpg

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Castor and Pollux, causing withdrawn behaviour on their part.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

complex sentences.

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.

Kristian Nairn 2014.jpg

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.


MargaretCafe PasteisDeNata.JPG

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.

Manuel Waiter.jpg

Que? said Brassie, attempting a quizzical Manuel impression.

Whatever, Gisela laughed and sank her veneers into one of the

seriously moreish roundels.