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(Compound Eye of Antarctic Krill: Wikipedia.  Photo by Gerd Alberti and

Uwe Kils)


Snodbury was actually his mother’s surname, he believed.

She had waltzed off to Venezuela, following her political dreams

and had settled down with a salsa musician, producing his half-


Aunt Augusta ( Editor:In Retrospect May She Rest In Peace and Rise In

Glory!) had deposited him, as a confused four year old, in St Birinus’

Pre-Prep Department, where he might have turned into a pre-pubescent

Scrooge, given that he was often forgotten at half terms.

It was not the first time that Gus (Snod) had had the distinct sensation

that someone was standing behind him whilst he was shaving.  Through

the condensation he wondered if, like another sweet young prince, he was

about to encounter his ghostly father.  There were more surprising things

in Heaven and Earth, he was sure.

He felt that it was not entirely down to thespian self-delusions that he

could summon up a vague remembrance of an encounter with a man

called Arthur in some school holidays.  The visits were etched on his

consciousness as they were marked by the gifts of a piece of Hornby

kit and a Rev Awdry book.

Aunt Augusta would collect him and take him on the train all the way

to Kent and then they would take a taxi to Wivern Mote.

His aunt and Arthur would sit round the fire in the converted stable block,

drinking mulled wine, if it was a Christmas Holiday, and gin and tonic, if

it wasn’t.  He remembered the odd silver cups from which the wine had

been imbibed.  They had embossed foxes’ heads on them.  He had been

drinking Ribena from a tooth mug and had asked about them.  He

remembered now: they were stirrup cups, he had been informed.

When it was time to go, he had to shake Arthur’s hand with his own

mittened fingers and he grew to anticipate the half crown that would

be passed into his woolly palm.  It was never a two shilling piece.  He

could tell, without looking- which would have been rude-just by feeling

the milled edge.  Yes, Arthur had been generous, if enigmatic.

It wouldn’t seem long before he was back to the security of school- that

same establishment to which he had dedicated not only the best years

of his life,but the majority of them.  The only noteworthy hiatus was

when he had studied Classics at university and had then returned like

the Biblical dog…

The toilet paper he had licked and stuck to his shaving nick fell off.  He

hoped the wound would heal more quickly than the childhood scars he

was well aware of bearing into advanced adulthood.

Catharsis‘- that was le mot juste.  If he could only lance the boil of his

carbuncular life, he felt the bloodletting would be beneficial.  There had

been so many toxic infections visited upon him in the course of his

school-masterly life.

He laughed to himself:  Pus in Boots!  This was the way his tangential mind

roved around, seeking bad puns.

Yes, Dear Reader, the exploration of the life and times of this apparent

nonentity will be the very means whereby he may be purged and brought

to a hopeful re-birth (but not in any Dianetical way, I assure you.)

By tracing his twig’s development on The Tree of Life, by exploring

different starting points, he hoped to arrive at the identical solution: himself.

The Biology teacher had explained convergent evolution to him, but I won’t

bore you with an elucidation now.

He had also wished that he could see the world through a compound eye-

to see himself as others saw him and to see himself more clearly.

Perhaps with ocular enhancement he would avoid any more shaving nicks…