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