Boothroyd-Smythe and Peabrain Minor had actually
impressed Mr Augustus Snodbury with their results in
their latest Latin ink exercise.
He walked into St Birinus Middle’s staff-room and bumped
into Nigel Milford-Haven, whose countenance was somewhat
crestfallen, since he seemed to have been issued, via his
pigeon-hole, with a dreaded luminous pink notification that
he had a cover lesson after break.
It wasn’t fair. He had a bit of a sore throat. Whatever member
of staff had phoned in on this inauspicious morning simply
couldn’t feel worse than he did at that precise moment.
What ho, old boy! I have just received the equivalent of some
gravitational waves which have issued from those two infamous
black holes in 4C, boomed Gus.
Nigel looked puzzled and he frankly wished to avoid such an
encounter, as once the old buffoon revved up, there would be
little chance of being able to seize upon one of the scarce, but
ever-popular chocolate Hob-Nobs on the staff refreshment
To wit, that this is a cataclysmic event, only to be celebrated in
greater style by the University of Glasgow, after its global contribution
to astrophysics and cosmology.
Nigel still looked puzzled.
I’m afraid that you have lost me, sir.
Ahh, if all of us in the learned profession were to switch on our educational
detectors, then we would possibly be able to receive signals, whose dimension
might be the equivalent of a trillionth trillion of an atom.
Education is a project which can seem fruitless. It can appear a thankless
task for decades. We must remain ever-vigilant and note the slightest
pulsation of a neuron! Posterity may depend upon it.
Today I rejoice that I have tuned into the mysterious workings of
the juvenile brain.
A ripple passed through the staff-room, as one or two of the older
members of staff who were familiar with the overly metaphorical style
of The Senior Master lowered their newspapers for a nanosecond, in
order to make an infinitesimal response. This reaction might have
registered with Nigel, if he had not been utterly consumed by the
shattering paper communication whose imperative had shredded any
hope that he had harboured for a respite period, after teaching his least
favourite class of the day.
Now he would never have time to sort out quelque chose for Valentine’s Day.
Drusilla would be so disappointed in him.
But, hold on! That pink paper was not a cover slip. It bore an embossed
depiction of a Cupid, or a cherub. Was this some sort of a trick?
Snod took the missive from The Junior Master’s trembling hand.
Excuse me, but I think this has been delivered to the wrong pigeon-hole.
It is clearly addressed to me.
Like a prestitidigateur, he conveyed it to the inner pocket of his Harris
Tweed jacket, with aplomb and surprisingly little sign of embarrassment.
Goodness only knew what company it would keep in the fluff-lined depths
of such a recess. The last time Gus had emptied his breast pocket he had
found a confiscated note from 1977 which bore a fading priapic drawing
and the Classical legend: Snod cloacum est!
Nigel experienced a wave of subtle emotion- the same feeling that he had
attempted to explain to his English class: Ambivalence. His mental universe
seemed to be imploding. When it came to affairs of the heart, he felt like
Philae hitching a lift on a comet. He hoped that he would not come unstuck,
but decided that his best bet was to hang on for dear life and share the
determined course of one who seemed to be making progress in that
(Hale-Bopp seen from Croatia, 1997)