Alan Titchmarsh, Alice Cooper, Baal, Babylon, Belshazzar's Feast, blobfish, Brutal Assault Tour, Bryn Terfel, C S Lewis, cosmic laugh, Cumberbatch, Donald Duck, Eurovision Song Contest, Fanny Craddock, farmor, Harry Enfield, Hatefest, James May, Kathy Burke, L'Inviti, Leipzig, Lindt cafe, Lordi, Mammon, Marduk, Meat Loaf, Mick Jagger, mormor, Nykoping, Ozzie Osborne, Pandemonium, Paradise Lost, psychrolutes micropons, reductio ad absurdam, St Augustine, Sydney Kingsford Smith, The Inferno, Transformer, Ugg slippers, Uriel, Walton
Candia Dixon-Stuart was about to encounter Sydney Kingsford Smith.
Sounds romantic, eh?
Actually, all it meant was that I was about to touch down at the New
South Wales airport.
I’d just finished reading the Weekend supplement of an Aussie
newspaper, with its very interesting article on blobfish, when the
seat belt sign was turned off and I thought I saw one of those
psychrolutes micropons thingies trying to retrieve its amorphous
cabin luggage from the overhead locker, having a guttural exchange
with the stewardess.
At first it seemed to morph into a member of that Finnish group,
LORDI, who won The Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, but then
I listened intently and discovered that it probably spoke Swedish
and had momentarily broken out of its Transformer costume.
Maybe Security wasn’t having any of it and Passport Control had
asked it to remove its latex mask, or accept consignment to the hold.
(By the way, why do all those intent on ‘shocking’ their fellows have to
resort to blasphemy and childish usurpation of religious names and
terms? I mean, one such band member is called Amen. Get your
own language, losers.)
Anyway, I was given a death-stare and didn’t see him again until Baggage
Claim, when I tried to discern his group’s name from his promotional t-
Sounds like a kid’s cartoon character. Love-a-duck! Donald Duck?!
Later I Googled their current tour. So, they are a Satanic band with ‘Evil
be thou my good’ no doubt their watchword. Yawn!
His promotional photo showed something streaming down his head as
if a seagull had perched on a municipal statue. Or was it a merde-duck?
The thing about these ageing rockers is that they seem to be frozen
in some kind of time warp. Ozzie Osborne and Mick Jagger are
Establishment now. Why keep flogging a dead horse?
Alice Cooper was aeons ago. Meat Loaf is probably past his
sell-by date. Sounds like a recipe by Fanny Craddock. Things
Even James May has had a tidy up.
And it really is poor taste to be claiming affiliation with evil when the
real stuff is being enacted all round the globe, or had been enacted in
the Lindt cafe, not so far away from the airport. It’s not about
banging your head like a toddler having a tantrum in its cot.
Of course, it could all be an act. Probably my subject is capable of being
as polite as the Harry Enfield character Kevin’s chum, played by Kathy
Burke, when speaking to someone else’s mother. Life is a stage and we
all play different parts, don’t we?
Maybe the scowling rockster went on to buy his aged granny, Inge Soda-
Stream, a nice souvenir pair of Ugg slippers- often reduced, I noticed in
Sydney shops. The devil allegedly likes a bargain, so his spawn would
hardly be averse to one. He probably made plenty Mammon at the
Melbourne gig beforehand.
I expect he did probably send his mormor/ farmor a nice postcard of the
harbour so she could put it up on the mantelpiece of her Nykoping
nursing home and tell the carers that he is such a nice boy and that he
used to relish her meatballs. Really? It seems so.
Evil always looks a bit sheepish to me. Satan had to disguise himself
as a cherub to ask directions from Uriel, in Paradise Lost. A she-devil
wouldn’t have been so reticent.
So, Marduk refers to Baal, god of Babylon. There’s been a lot of music
created about that deity. Think Belshazzar’s Feast and, if you listen
to it, I am sure you’ll find it a lot more sophisticated than anything this
Scandinavian -collective term for a gang of demons??- will produce.
Bryn Terfel was on the award-winning Walton CD in which Yours Truly sang
the L’Inviti part. I am sure he could have personally taken on all minor
demons of that particular region with a Welsh rugby tackle and could
have shown Marduk how one blast from his lungs would blow them all
off the concert stage into the pit- not necessarily The Inferno.
But, you take my point: the writing on the wall must surely come for these
guys, in spite of their Brutal Assault Tour, 2015.
The Devil steals all the best tunes and they are advertising their steel-
armored (sic) death choir, which they are going to ‘unleash‘.
Puh-lease! Have they ever attended a cathedral choir rehearsal when
the solo snippets are being assigned? They don’t know what malice is!
In that context, it is serious internecine warfare, which would reveal
any spite that Marduk would exhibit as kittenish.
They’re even going to perform a selection of what they call hymns
from their current album. They could ask Alan Titchmarsh to present
They’re going to have a Hatefest in Leipzig. Surely, it’s not that bad a
venue? Mind you, it is probably preferable to that out-dated love-in!
Sorry, guys, but I can’t take you seriously. Good is the new sexy, in
case you hadn’t heard. Everyone loves Cumberbatch et al.
As C S Lewis showed, Satan is a mere parody of God. I think he
pinched that from St Augustine- and he was a reformed
When confronted with ranting devils in Pandemonium, God actually
laughed. A cosmic laugh. And it did not reflect amusement, so much
as true power.
Laughter puts an end to debate. So, I bite my thumb at you.
agape, Bradford on Avon, C S Lewis, centaur, Cubist painting, Evac chair, Galahad, Inkling, James May, Jeremy Clarkson, jousting, Lancelot, Lothario, Monteverdi, Mr Tumnus, petrol head, Stannah stairlift, Surprised By Joy, The Four Loves, Thora Hird, Top Gear
Nigel Milford-Haven was rushing down the stairs which led to the school
vestibule when he almost bumped into Augustus Snodbury, Senior Master,
who was struggling with two suitcases on the landing. Nigel was just about
to volunteer to sherpa at least one of them, since Old Snod seemed to be
moving in a curiously painful fashion, but then the erstwhile boy scout noticed
the damsel in distress and offered to take her arm and hold her crutch while
she zoomed down the flight on one of those institutional Evac chairs, like a
marginally more attractive Thora Hird going in the opposite direction to her
usual demonstration of a Stannah Stairlift.
He thankfully failed to observe Augustus’ clutching of his own bruised
and battered crotch as he descended the stairwell like a Cubist painting
You know, I think we’ve met, the Junior Master said thoughtfully when he
reached the bottom and unstrapped Dru from the safety belt, in a curiously
intimate gesture of assistance.
Yes, it was at the joint schools’ evensong, Drusilla replied, holding onto
the polished banister with both hands, now that they were free. I teach
at St Vitus’.
Mr Milford-Haven, my daughter, Drusilla.
Nigel nearly lost his footing on the last step. Daughter! He hadn’t known
that Snod was a married man. Oh, maybe he wasn’t! Nigel knew that he,
himself, was rather conventional when it came to that sort of thing. But who
would have guessed that Old Snod had hidden fires. Maybe he was a
Nigel had always viewed Gus as a kind of non-Christian Inkling, if that wasn’t
an oxymoron. He would ask Matron, Fount of All Information, if she had any
inkling about it. (He was rather pleased with that joke.)
Hmm, Snod as Lothario! Mind you, he was a law unto himself. He had been
known to skip Assembly and Hymn Practices when the Spirit did not move him,
so any level of debauchery was theoretically possible.
Now that he was able to glimpse the woman, she did bear a resemblance
around the jawline. Did women have jowls? Would it have mattered to C S
Lewis if they did? He would probably have still married anyone who needed
a British passport, out of sheer agape.
But it was one of the stronger Four Loves than agape that struck the youthful
form teacher. He felt Surprised By Joy.
Enchante, he said in his best Franglais. You do seem to have been in the
wars somewhat. I trust that the injury is not too severe? He shook her hand
vigorously, forgetting that her equilibrium was not yet steady.
He glanced at Snod, but decided to say nothing about the old boy’s
Let me carry your cases out to your car, sir, he offered in his new-found role
as Sir Galahad. You look as if someone has kicked you in the..
Yes, all right, Milford-Haven, Snod interrupted, nodding towards Dru, to remind
Nigel that he was in the presence of a female. Sir Galahad and Lancelot
would not have been employing such non-courtly language, so Snod wasn’t
about to award his daughter as jousting prize to a Knight with No Garter of
Having safely stowed Snod behind his own steering-wheel, like Polonius behind
an arras, Nigel carefully took Dru’s crutches from her and placed them in the
Going anywhere nice then? he enquired, according to the textbook of chat-up
We are going to my mother’s house in Bradford-upon-Avon, she volunteered.
It’s to be a nice surprise.
Well, that is a surprise indeed, said Nigel, who was completely on the ball
now that the term was over. You see, I’m going to Bath with Mr Poskett,
the choirmaster, to take part in a Monteverdi workshop for countertenors.
Perhaps you could all come to the final concert on the Saturday? He felt in
his pocket and took out a crumpled flyer.
Drusilla accepted it and couldn’t help thinking that her father should join
the class as his voice had been elevated by a couple of octaves after the
attack on his crown jewels. However, she suppressed this amusing thought.
Can’t say it’s my cup of tea, said Gus, winding down the car window and
signalling his eagerness to depart.
Having helped Dru to swivel her fairly attractive legs into the small car, Nigel
mimed a telephone call as Gus reversed.
Call me, he shouted enthusiastically. The number of the music school is on
the back of the leaflet.
He leapt out of reach of a spray of gravel as Snod pretended to be James May,
or Jeremy Clarkson. He was showing off to his daughter, who actually
detested Top Gear and all it stood for. She preferred centaurs to petrol
I’m surprised that he’s lasted more than a term here, said Snod, a shade
ungraciously, given the logistical assistance that they had just been given.
But Dru had always found the counter tenor voice very alluring.
What is he called? she asked airily. I didn’t catch his name.
Secretly he reminded her of Mr Tumnus. Bless!
Diana turned her head, like an owl swivelling its neck. She had
prepared herself for the inevitable change that she must find in
Augustus, but she had to adjust her facial expression. He wasn’t
the only one for whom the bell had taken its toll.
They hugged, embarrassed, not knowing how long to
maintain the embrace. Then Diana pulled away and walked
forward, into the pub proper. He followed her to the reserved
table in the window.
He couldn’t keep his eyes from her, but was trying not to stare.
Her figure was still firm after all those years of coaching lacrosse.
He could feel his own Falstaffian belly sagging against his thighs
like an oversized watermelon.
They ordered crab soup. He kept reminding himself of the
quotation beneath his photo in the school magazine: a god
amongst mere mortals. The trouble was that he had failed to
detect the irony, as it actually prefaced the quotation with: he
thinks he is.. It had also drivelled on about his formidable
reputation as a Classics scholar. Who did they think he was –
C.S.Blinkin’ Lewis? He more closely resembled Mr Tumnus, with
an emphasis on the Tum.
Still, he summoned the memory in times of feeling inadequate. It
usually made him feel worse.
Diana finished her soup first and leant under the table to retrieve
a large envelope from her designer handbag- actually bought in
Shepton Mallet at a seconds store in the Clark’s Village, but it
gave the intended impression, she thought. Small woman with
ridiculously over-sized bag. Wonder she doesn’t give herself
vertebrae injury, was what observers usually silently remarked
when they saw her struggling with it. I bet it costs her a bomb in
People can be so unkind. But Diana was there to atone for her
past omissions and commissions.
She passed the envelope across the table. It was full of photos of
Drusilla’s prizegivings, gymkhana competitions, a record of her
Confirmation and driving test results-all four of them. It had
copies of her swimming certificates (100 metres), a cloth badge
which she had won for diving from the side of the pool and which
Diana had never got round to attaching to her daughter’s Speedo
costume. There was a mounted page with her A-level results and
a Grade 5 Theory certificate.
Oh, she only got a merit, he observed to himself, fortunately.
Doesn’t take after me in that realm. He felt a little more confident.
There was one respect in which she clearly did take after her pa,
however. The Snodbury jowls were very much in evidence, so
there was no question of a DNA test being necessary.
Yes, he said, looking at a photo of Drusilla when she had been a
bridesmaid at the age of fourteen, I suppose she is my daughter.
She is, isn’t she?
Diana, slightly ruffled at the very suggestion of any doubt,
snapped: Is the Pope a Catholic?
Well, he seems to have had enough of it all and has resigned,
hasn’t he? So where does that place him? He seems to be copying
The Archbishop of Canterbury. They’re probably all C of E.
Diana’s expression was hardening. She was beginning to recall
how much she had disliked his facetiousness.
But don’t worry, I will accept my responsibilities, to the bitter end.
Bitter end? That’s good of you, she said caustically. No, I don’t
require a coffee. She waved the waiter away rudely.
Father! exclaimed Drusilla. She had been waiting outside for
some time in the car, until her mother gave her the signal from
the window. Augustus had wondered why she kept flicking her
hair all the time in the manner of a teenage Gloria Swanson– or
was it Swansong at this age?
Everyone looked at their table and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic
filial welcome characterised by the rumbustiousness of the daughter
of a once fearsome lax player, Augustus knocked the shagreen box
onto the floor and, to his chagrin, the ring fell out and
disappeared down a gap in the floorboards. It would take
someone with very long arms to retrieve it. Maybe it was a sign:
don’t do it, old boy!