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It was the end of the week and the St Birinus’ Middle Staff Meeting had rolled

around once more, with terrifying regularity.  The gathering was a

sacrosanct feature on the school calendar.

Mr Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master – ‘Snod‘ to all and sundry-made his

slightly tardy arrival.  Some bitchily said this was in order to achieve a

grand entrance, but Scarlett O’Hara he was not, nor even Raina from

Arms and the Man, though he DID know the original source of Shaw’s

play’s title, being a Classicist.

He knocked the door peremptorily, provoking Mr Geoffrey Poskett to

move his lithe frame which was appuyant against the staffroom exit.

Who does he think he is?  Black Rod? The Head of Music fulminated

silently.  Geoffrey had conveniently positioned himself so as to be

able to leg it over to lunch while there was a possibility of Spotted

Dick still being on the menu.

Snod directed a crushing glance in his direction and slid past him,

negotiating his path towards his favourite seat in the front bench,

correction: front row, from which he preferred to challenge The Head

Teacher, pretty much in the sarcastic manner of Dennis Skinner, MP,

in The House of Commons.

But, mehercule! Qu’est-ce-que-se-passe ici?

He whom the Junior Masters had nick-named The Beast of Bolsover II

had been supplanted.   A probationary Minister, nay, Master was

ensconced in Snod’s favourite armchair.

Image result for armchair

I think you’ll find that I had reserved that particular place, Snod

menaced, looking for the evidence of his battered and displaced


I didn’t realise that places could be reserved, replied the impertinent


Don’t take that particular SNP tone with me, young sir, Snod

answered.  I inherited this chair three decades ago, on the demise

of its previous incumbent, my own House Master, Mr Stickland.  It is

directly in the line of fire and consequently only for occupants of a

rebellious nature.  You, sir, have not enough experience to be able to

sabotage at the appropriate level.  Half the Junior Masters are toerags

compared to…

Kindly withdraw that pejorative remark, Mr Snodbury, commanded The


He was also looking at the clock and was itching to conclude proceedings

so as to leg it to the refectory as fast as was decently possible.  Nursery

puddings-yum!  He wasn’t allowed them at home.

Snod threw his hands in the air.  All right, sir.  The other half aren’t.

The Headmaster gave up any idea of ingesting the last of the

steamed pud.

It wasn’t that Snod sought to emulate Dennis Skinner, except in that

old curmudgeon’s conscientious record for best attendance and so on.

However, Snod and the MP shared an appreciation of the importance of

Custard- Freudian slip!– Custer and his Last Stand.

Charles Marion Russell - The Custer Fight (1903).jpg

Early bath, Mr Snodbury! warned The Headmaster.  The Battle of Little

Bighorn had not even commenced.

Everyone sniggered.  The usurper, however, moved to the seat behind,

chiefly because he required the support of The Senior Master in a little

matter in which a parent had complained about the distinct lack of prep

that he had recently set and marked.

Boys to be discussed…? The Headmaster wearily inquired.

Boothroyd-Smythe, a Form Master suggested.

Everyone groaned.  The Supplanter sweated under his collar.  He knew

he was in for it.

Can you comment on this homework matter, Mr Snodbury?  The

Headmaster appealed.

Certainly, sir.  It is a matter of ‘when posh boys are in trouble they seek

to sack the servants.’

Resolved then?  Let’s go to lunch.

Collective stomachs rumbled gratefully.  Mr Poskett heard nuances of

an aleatoric symphony of  Avant-Garde music.  But then he had just been

teaching John Cage to an unresponsive bunch, so the similarity sprung

to mind.

Thereafter, The Junior Master gave place to his elder and better as

he knew that his career at St Birinus’ was entirely dependent on his

ability to extract a Get Out of Jail Free card from Mr Augustus Snodbury,

Senior Master.  And with this revelation, he joined the ranks of

faithful acolytes.