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Virginia Fisher-Gyles had to admit to a certain frustration over her

relationship with Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master at St Birinus

Middle School.

They had enjoyed each other’s company over the school holidays

and were planning a half term break to visit Gus’ ex-squeeze, who

had been reconciled to her ex-husband, Murgatroyd Syylk, the erstwhile

picture dealer.  Now Diana, for that was the name of the lady so lucky

in love, was adapting to her new role as chatelaine of a renovated

pele tower.  To boot, her spouse was the epitome of good grooming.

Virginia felt no pangs of jealousy, architectural, or otherwise, but

what really niggled at her lately-enjoyed sense of being a deux was a

certain slight embarrassment at her partner’s wardrobe.

Gus seemed to have shadowed Jeremy Corbyn on one of his sartorial

shopping treks round Islington North market stalls.  The schoolmaster

wasn’t guilty of the white vest solecism, but he did have a very similar

beige jacket, albeit with unco-ordinated elbow patches.

Like Jezza, Snod had a habit of keeping a spare Biro in his shirt pocket.

One hot summer day, before term had ended, Peabrayne Minor had

practically freaked out, as he had noticed a crimson seepage from his

teacher’s breast.  He had run out of the classroom to fetch the San Sister,

thinking the old boy was haemmorhaging.  Some of the other boys on the

front row had noticed the phenomenon too, but had realised that it was

a leaky marking pen that was gradually creating a map that the more

geographically-aware members of the class were already identifying as


Snod had been sporting cords since the Seventies- possibly the same pair-

because he appreciated their comfort, which only increased, the baggier

they became round his increasing backside.

For more formal occasions, such as a Parents’ Evening, he added a rakish

personal style signifier in the form of a Paisley patterned silk mouchoir,

which protruded from the aforementioned jacket pocket.

Virginia had been relieved that her had stuck to his old cricket flannels on

their European cruise.  At least he had not worn shorts with his Birkenstocks.

That would have been beyond the pale, as far as she was concerned. She

privately made a bet with herself that his legs had not seen the light of day

since A Whiter Shade of Pale had topped the charts in 1967.  Anyway, she

wasn’t going to go there.

So, for her beau, beige was the new black.  She had read that such

expressions were termed snowclones.  How she wished that he would take

a leaf out of Jon Snow’s book and, at least, display a hint of hosiery style.

However, since Gus was not a Channel 4 type, she would just have to accept

that he was happier to converge with the likes of Robert Peston.  But if the

economist was to defect to ITV, there might be a hope of persuading her man

that Wurzel Gummidge was an unsuitable role model, or fashion template.

So, boho-Corbynesque seemed to prevail.  What was she supposed to do

about it?  Threaten to dress like Diane Abbott?

No, she would start her campaign early and ensure that he wasn’t just

getting socks and Boxers for Christmas.  This was going to tax her

organisational skills as a PA to the limit, as well as her personal shopper

aspirations.  It was heartening, however, to know that Snod’s daughter,

Drusilla, was on board and had offered to hijack his laundry and take it to

the Clothing Bank at the re-cycling centre.  They would probably charge

her ten quid to incinerate it.

Virginia thought that might be a risky strategy, although a tempting one.

However, since Nigel, Drusilla’s boyfriend was adopting the same

magisterial uniform, in the Latin sense, perhaps the two women could

form a twin-pronged attack on both males and achieve successful

makeovers.  Perhaps.

At least neither of them owned a Beckham baker’s boy cap.  So, there

might be some hope after all.