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(Image: George Shuklin)

Geoffrey Poskett, Choirmaster, was appraised of the impending

honey trap.

He felt that his ancient colleague was being stung and so decided to

strengthen Snod’s resilience by playing a medley of steely hymns

while the Juniors filed in and filled up the front ranks of the whole

school assembly.

Courage brother- do not stumble came to mind and he improvised a

clever little introduction.  This was followed by Yield Not To Temptation.

Weren’t there some apt references to bondage in some of the old ones?

Hmm, perhaps he’d better not.  He just changed key and accompanied

(con brio) the internalised words: Fight manfully onward/ dark passions

subdue and then, spotting John Boothroyd-Smythe in the second row,

fixed his magisterial gaze on him while mouthing: shun evil companions/

bad language disdain…

The Headmaster rose to the spirit of the occasion by reading a

passage from Revelation about The Spirit and The Bride saying ‘Come.

Those regular communicants of St Birinus Middle might have reflected

that the Lectionary reading for the 29th February might have been even

more apt, because, referring to Naaman, the thrust of the passage was

all about doing exactly as one is told and, for a man about to receive a

proposal (however much of a euphemism one might regard that to be,

in this instance) it might have been a jolly good introduction to the

secrets of a successful married life.

The final congregational number was George Herbert’s Love Bade Me

Welcome and Geoffrey Poskett closed his eyes and prayed: Draw back,

draw back, you old fool.

On cue, at the line : Who made the eyes, but me? Virginia emerged from

the stage curtain at the side of the dais and tottered over to the Senior

Master on her highest stilettos yet and pronounced:

How about it, Mr Snodbury?  I am making the eyes!

The whole school cheered and no one heard the reply. Snod blushed

like a maiden and four burlier prefects lifted him, chair and all and

made off with him into the wings.

Before the Juniors could launch into For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow,

Geoffrey had a moment of inspiration and started thumping out

The  Strife Is O’er, The Battle Won, suddenly entering into the spirit of it

all.  Now is the Victor’s Triumph Won, he played, forgetting that no one

knew that number, as he had been moved to spontaneity.  So, when

he sang in a falsetto that nevertheless carried: Alleluia! he realised that,

like Mr Bean, sometimes you are on your own.

What Snod had muttered and what no one had picked up was :

Finita iam sunt praelia!

Which, being interpreted is, of course, the Latin title of the Breviary


What had annoyed him particularly was that Poskett had chosen the

wrong tune. It should have been Surrexit!

And what irritated Boothroyd-Smythe and Co was that The Headmaster

didn’t even announce a half holiday.