Alice in Wonderland, Bathsheba, Boldwood, builders' tea, David Cameron, hagiography, Lucozade, martyrology, misogyny, Neutral Tones, Proust, Prufrock, sin of commission, sin of presumption, Sods' Law, St Brigid, St Patrick, Thomas Hardy
Fortunately Snod had a double free period before Lower Five and so
he slumped into his favourite lumpy chintz armchair and waited till
he could be sure that the rest of the staff were in Lesson One.
Virginia came in sheepishly, carrying a tray with some builders’ tea
and a plate with two Bourbon biscuits. He was allowed two since it
was not every day that one became affianced.
He didn’t look up at first. He felt that she had committed a sin of
presumption, or at least commission, but he wasn’t going to split
theological hairs at this point. Taking a sledgehammer to break
a walnut came into his mind too, but he felt that was a violent
metaphor. Still, he probably would never have succumbed to a
more gentle persuasive technique.
Yes, he had heard of St Brigid and her relationship with St Patrick.
He simply didn’t want Virginia to activate any of the ideas that the
female saint of yore had favoured, such as giving away all her
counterpart’s worldly goods and so on. Virginia would probably never
understand the vital importance of his oiled cricket bat, or piles
of Wisdens. He wasn’t swayed by aspirations to a ranking in the
hagiography through denial in any shape or form, and, if he was
to wed, then it might be more appropriate to consider an entry
in a martyrology.
He looked at the cup of tea. There was no such thing as a free drink.
He felt like Alice, in Wonderland– a novel concept. The eponymous
heroine had been confronted with a phial which was labelled: Drink Me.
If he accepted the bone china mug and its contents, did it imply an
acceptance of the proposal? Was he about to drain hemlock?
He risked a sip. Aaah! Just the way he liked it: slightly stewed.
He swirled it round his mouth in a Proustian reverie. It wasn’t too
disagreeable, after all- the whole idea and not just the cuppa. It
took him back to reminiscenses of past times of security, as when
Matron had brought him just such a beverage when he was in San with
measles. She had warmed his jammies on the radiator and had
given him Lucozade. He remembered looking at the confines of
his life through the orange cellophane, which he picked off the bottle,
and feeling that life was still an adventure, if only for Boys’ Own
Virginia tiptoed out, knowing that he needed a little space.
He gazed at the poster of Thomas Hardy alongside the English
Department noticeboard. That wretched man had caused him a
lot of trouble over the years. (see the original misdirected Valentine
which had ended up between the underlay and the carpet of a boarding
house-mistress’ apartment, many moons previously.)
And now he had to ask himself a typically Hardyean question:
Was he, like Boldwood, being set up by a teasing woman? Virginia
did have some Bathsheban tendencies. He tried to resist thinking of
her in a state of deshabillement for the moment, as it distracted him
from the thrust of his current thought processes.
Then Hardy came to the rescue.
How so? you ask, Dear Reader.
Boldwood gave him the idea.
Gus took his hymnbook from the side table and threw it into the air.
Virginia came into the room again, having given him what she
considered was sufficient time- to hang himself, some would have
added. She carried some correspondence as justification.
What are you doing with that book? she reprimanded. You’ll break its
Snod inwardly whispered, Open-to wed; Shut-to…
Sods’ Law: it fell open. Or was it Snod’s Law?
Virginia picked it up and placed it in his pigeonhole.
Then she came over and took his plate and mug, spat on her
hanky and wiped an indeterminate stain from his tie.
So, that’s settled then, she pronounced.
And he knew that it jolly well was. But a quote from Neutral
Tones, one of Hardy’s finest, suddenly sprang to mind:
The smile on [his]mouth was the deadest thing
alive enough to have strength to die…
No, although he felt chidden of God, it couldn’t be as bad as all
Could it? Happy misogyny, here we come, he mused.
He had measured out his life, unlike Prufrock, in oxymorons,
rather than coffee spoons.
Alice in Wonderland, bona vacantia, Charles Lutwidge Dodson, Eton Porny school, Fraser and Fraser, Godzilla, Goneril and Regan, heir hunters, Jabberwocky, King Lear, Mozilla, Nigel Milford-Haven, probate genealogists, Ronald Reagan, rubber, Ted Hughes
Nigel Milford-Haven was suffering frustration in St Birinus Middle’s
staff study. He was trying to fix up a friendly mini-rugby match for
his Junior B team, but was denied access when he attempted to
Google Eton Porny C of E First School, Windsor, to get the phone
number of the sports master. He only had one study period that
morning and he was increasingly finding himself wasting time
through being blocked by the school’s over-rigorous firewall, which
had the aggression of a New South Wales inferno, he felt. Level:
Even in the holidays, he had come into school in his own time, to
prepare some war poetry for his English class. He had wanted to
print off Six Young Men by Ted Hughes. The firewall interpreted this
as Six Fit Blokes and thwarted him. What about Transitus A’s
Jabberwocky questions on portmanteaux? Charles Lutwidge Dodson
was clearly a no-go area.
Uttering a mild expletive which his charges were prone to utilise in
the yard and which did not even merit a detention, he turned to the
geography worksheets that he had been typing. The Malaysian
Peninsula and its Cash Crops had seemed a little more original than
the textbook’s playsafe options until he smugly typed in: Rubber.
Again- total obstruction!
His phone rang. He jumped with guilt. He had only landed on a
sepia photo of the young Alice in Wonderland model for a
nanosecond before quickly removing his virtual presence. Surely it
couldn’t be the Thought Police already? This was beginning to be
like 1984, only decades on.
Hello, Child Protection Nemesis. I mean, hello. Milford-Haven, St
Hello, is that Nigel Milford-Haven? Or did you say St. Birinus?
Milford-Haven- yes, Nigel speaking.
Ah, just needed to check.
(Who would take the part of a single, male, housemaster? Wasn’t
Napoleon Braithwaite in 3C’s father a defence lawyer?)
You see, the voice continued olagineously, you don’t know us, but
we are Fraser and Fraser.
He hadn’t taught any identical twins, had he?
And we have some potential good news for you. We are probate
genealogists who look into the treasury’s bona vacantia unclaimed
estates and, passing over our 40% search fees, we have to tell you
that your great-aunt Julia Conroy-Haven, spinster, left a large parcel
of land and some property to be used for educational purposes in
perpetuity. However, in these times of austerity, the council
could no longer afford to maintain these assets as local
demographics had moved the infant population on, so to speak, and
therefore a builder developed the site for four luxury town houses. As
one of the legal heirs, you may be entitled to a share in the proceeds.
But how did you find me? blurted Nigel, desperately trying to recall
Great Aunt Julia, lest he share the epic sin of ingratitude with Ronald
Reagan and the like- or was it Goneril and Regan? They hadn’t
covered King Lear in his B.Ed teacher training and he had always felt
the lack thereof..
Well, we use the Electoral Roll and the Records Office, but your
erstwhile neighbours were all too ready to get in on a slice of the
action and enjoyed their microsecond of televisual coverage while
proffering your forwarding address.
So I am the beneficiary?
One of them-yes. Through your great-uncle, your father being-ah-
Nigel could see a small apartment away from school begin to
materialise. He could de-mote to bog standard schoolmaster,
without house duties. Maybe part-time would be possible…He could
watch Only Connect in the privacy of his own home without Ralston
junior pestering him to help with his Latin prep. Bona vacantia– he
must look that up! It must mean Open sesame!
So, if I sign up, how much am I due- after your cut, naturally? Sorry
to be so blunt…
Not at all, Mr Milford-Haven. You are thirteenth in line after your
great-uncle’s children and their offspring.
I’d say that we will send you a cheque for £100.
The riverside apartment de-materialised rapidly and he could see
himself working till he was put on the Pathway and he didn’t mean
the one to prosperity.
Ah well, it would just about cover his petrol for the double journey
he would have to take to discuss directly next term’s fixtures with
the sports department of that curiously named school whose contact
details he was denied by Godzilla or some other ridiculous-sounding
Alexander Beetle, Alice in Wonderland, All Shall have Prizes, Christopher Robin, Cottleston Pie, Dr Giles Fraser, Eeyore, genealogy, Jesus, John Tyerman Williams, Malt extract, Pooh and the Philosophers, Popper, Prince Harry, Prince William, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Swithun's Day, The Prodigal Son, The Queen, Thought for the Day, Tractatus, Winnie-the-Pooh, Wittgenstein
Dr Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor to St Paul’s Cathedral was on Thought for the Day and he spoke about The Caucus Race in Alice in Wonderland and the Dodo’s ethos of All Shall have Prizes.
It is forty days after St Swithun’s Day and I must say that we have not had constant rain, so there is a level of truth in the old adage.
Anyway, the Rev Dr declared that rewarding everyone undermined a sense of achievement. However, success should not influence the degree of parental love. The Prodigal Son found that the Father’s love was not dependent on his performance. Dr Fraser spoke about the apparent unfairness of the parable of the workers in the vineyard all receiving the same wages, but explained it as how love behaves. You can imagine Wills being annoyed that Harry gets away with his signature behaviour while he, closer in line, is expected, as the Elder Brother, to keep his nose clean.
Talking of lines to the throne, isn’t the genealogy bug gripping more and more people? Apparently, if you go back 30 generations, then you would find that Jesus was related to King David, after all. But so was every other inhabitant of Israel.
Trees become ever more branched if one widens the search and includes friends and relations, such as Rabbit and Alexander Beetle. Very Small Beetle was obviously staying overnight at Christopher Robin’s at the time of a census, but he may have gone round a gorse bush the wrong way and so disappeared off ancestry.co.uk and the International Genealogical Index. That was why Rabbit couldn’t find him in subsequent records.
Too many amateur genealogists are not paying sufficient attention to Popper (Sir Karl, 1902-94) and his theory of falsifiability. He said that no accumulation of instances could prove a theory to be correct. However, one counter-instance could disprove it, at least partly. Got that?
You see, all swans might be white, but an instance of a black one would falsify the proposition.
We need a conceivable test for our propositions. So, if we place a Rover robot with a plutonium battery that lasts ten years in a Las Vegas hotel room, we can verify if all Royals are white sheep, or if one black sheep exists. That means that we can make a scientific judgement. (see Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams, p 103-4)
So, Harry must return to Grandmamma and hear what the Crustimoney Proseedcake is to be, for he is a bear of very little brain and long words probably bother him. When he is asked why he behaved so stupidly, he will in all likelihood reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Eeyore could explain the whole sorry activity as Bon-hommy.
The Palace could refer to Wittgenstein and his observation in the Tractatus that what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.
Eventually HM might find a form of words:
Hello, Harry, wasn’t that you?
No, says Harry in a different voice.
Harry, says HM kindly, You haven’t any brain.
I know, says the Prince, humbly and then sort of boffs nervously as he swallows a spoonful of Extract of Malt. It’s just that it’s bad enough, granny, being miserable, what with no presents and no cake and no crown and no proper notice taken of me at all…
Well, now you know how your father feels We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it
Can’t all what?
Gaiety..song-and-dance…bon-hommy.. There it is!
So what shall I do with this pole?
Give it back to the nice girl at the club, Harry. These friends – they are the wrong sort of friends..so I should think they would make the wrong sort of headlines.
So, what should I do now, Grandmamma?
Go on an expotition and keep out of trouble
It will rain tonight
Let it come down!
(Exit Harry, pursued but not bare.)
It is going to be squelching over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012