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Snod, Senior Master at St Birinus Middle School, exited his final

lesson  before the weekend.  He was in an unusually good mood,

but then he always enjoyed Shakespeare, as playing the part of

The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet was right up his street.

(He always skipped the bit about being a wet nurse, however.

He also omitted the bit about Susan.  Thankfully she was with

the Almighty, according to the Bard.)

He breezed into The School Office and managed to find Virginia


Gus had booked a table a deux for Valentine’s Night at Pantagruel &


Little did he suspect that Virginia had been on the brink of issuing

an ultimatum concerning her perception of the lack of direction in

their relationship.  She managed to adjust her expression from what

she was worried was becoming something that was commonly referred

to as ‘Resting Bitch Face‘ and softened her PA mien.

She had planned to say that she was going to hop on a bus to Genoa

at Easter, if things didn’t hot up.  That was a euphemism.

She had rehearsed the conversation.

Snod: Why Genoa?

Yes, why had Genoa sprung to mind?

She reflected further and realised that she had been watching

too much  of ‘The Young Montelbano‘. Genoa was where his enamorata

Livia had headed when the Commissario hadn’t come up to the required

commitment level.

She would have felt even more humbled had she known that Snod had

been to Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil, the lawyers in Rochester, to

collect a ring from the depository at their associated bank.

It had all been discussed with his daughter, Drusilla, who had relinquished

her rights to the jewellery stash she might have inherited from Lady Wivern,

his mother.

The Tindall Jewel was being lent in perpetuity to The National Trust for display

at Wyvern Mote, in lieu of some death duties and Dru had accepted that Nigel

would never be able to afford a decent ring on his salary.

She had been the one to suggest that if her father gave Nige –Nige??!– the

original heart-shaped diamond ring that Snod had once intended for her

mother, Diana, and which had had such a checkered existence- namely being

shut in his filing cabinet for approximately thirty years, she would accept it as

an engagement ring.  No matter that it had been bought with her mother in


After all, if Kate Middleton was not fussed, why should she be?  Her mother

had a cracker of an old bluish cushion cut eighteenth century diamond solitaire

from Murgatroyd, so why should she, Diana, mind if Gus then gave Virginia the

Burmese ruby which, frankly she, Drusilla, thought a tad vulgar?

She laughed as she remembered them all having to suck up the heart-shaped

ring from under the floorboards in The Longs Arms, after Snod’s clumsy attempt

at the re-kindling of his romance of yesteryear.  Yes, Henry the vacuum cleaner

had proved most effective.  Mum had been so embarrassed, however.

Nigel had been told what was currently happening and had gone along with

his instructions.

Now the extended family was waiting to see the outcome of Snod’s coming


Virginia was the last to know what was going on.  And that was a very unusual

position for Virginia.  And Virginia was not the kind of woman who was interested

in unusual positions, I can assure you.  That, indeed, was one of her major

attractions for our worthy schoolmaster, in spite of his penchant for a slim ankle

in a stiletto.  But that is by the by…

To our tale, as Rabbie Burns said on at least one occasion…

Pantagruel & Gourmand?  Oh, Gus! she exclaimed.  How did you know that I’ve

always wanted to go there?  Ever since Mrs Boothroyd-Smythe told me about it,

I have longed to sample their tasting menu.

Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach might

as well have included both sexes.


(If any reader wants to refresh their memory as to what originally happened

when Snod bungled his proposal to Dru’s mother and dropped the

aforementioned heart-shaped ring down the floorboards of The Longs Arms,

Lower Wraxall, then you can refer back to February 2013 for revision purposes.)