Glad I saw you then. Seize each moment. (Carpe Diem)
No number 41- the above is 42. There is no 46, or 49)
No matter the oaths
we have pledged to each other,
they are in the past.
I will punish him:
his effigy is nailed here
until he responds.
I am a white fox.
I gave him a son; but he
wishes I had not.
I have been a fool.
Harakiri is my fate.
People should not cheat.
No 46. This is 47:
Though all is prepared,
yet in my soul is darkness
no one can detect.
I sit out my love.
In daytime all is idle.
Fires will blaze at night.
No 49. This is 50:
Carpe diem – yes!
Since you’re going to die young, make
smoke and burn brightly.
Alamuddin, Alcopop, Amal Clooney, Banksy, Borgia, Brexit, Carpe Diem, discursive essay, Donald Trump, fish kettle, jelly girl, Lucrezia, Magaluf, Medici, Nerissa's ring, Pope, Robert Frost, sliding door, Turtle Mat, Vogue, Weetabix, zircon
The ring had sparkled on Drusilla Fotheringay’s finger- so
much so that Lower Six spotted it immediately and one
forward type had commented, Oh, Miss, is that a zircon?
Dru then had had to prevent herself from using the sun’s rays
as a laser effect to bounce off the prism of her multi-
faceted stone, only for it to be directed forthwith into the pupils
of the aforesaid wag.
Pupils. Hmmm, I must ask Dad what is the etymological
connection between students and eyes. Maybe reading?
Or is it that nowadays they all seem to be the apple of their
father’s eyes? she had ‘mused‘. Editor: Not ‘reflected’.
She had sprung back to attention as she noticed that the class
had left a lumpily wrapped present on her desk.
It was obviously a fish kettle. And there had been an
accompanying card, with the following : Men!-Don’t Let the
B******* get you down!
It had been signed by the whole class.
The legend had obviously been written by one of the more gender-
politicised members of the group. Dru would choose to ignore
the inappropriate language, in favour of the spirit of the gift,
even if it had been Amarillo Guttersnipe’s mother’s unwanted
That had been yesterday and today it was her morning off. She
was enjoying a quiet interval in her flat, still in her pyjamas. She
took her hot water and lemon slice and wandered into the hall, to
see if there was any post.
A pink envelope lay on the Turtle mat, which was very similar to the
doormat that had covered the very spot, over thirty years previously,
and which had been the location of her mother’s tragic mis-directed
missive- the one which Existentially might have opened a very different
When Diana, Dru’s mother, had been a ‘Lax‘ Mistress at St Vitus’ School
for the Academically-Challenged Girl, all those years ago, the ill-fated
Valentine card had slipped between the underlay and the carpet and
its interior proposal had been unread for decades.
(Editor: The school’s name had been changed to accommodate the very
different type of clientele they were now receiving.)
Now there was a smart brass letterbox in the House Mistress’ door, so
the mail tended to reach its intended recipient.
Curioser and curioser… It seemed to have a Spanish stamp and was
franked with the dreaded Proper Noun: Magaluf.
Oh, it was a card from Juniper Boothroyd-Smythe, whose pesky little
brother was still at St Birinus Middle, where he continued to abuse Nigel.
Dru liked to have news from her ex-pupils, though, goodness only knew
how she had wished this one even further away than Glasgow School
There was no denying that the girl had been creative and talented,
John had texted his big sister with the news of the teachers’ engagement.
Actually, he had worded it thus: We thought he was gay!
The card was made of hand-crafted paper, which looked like tissues that
had survived a 40 degree wash in some sleeve or other. There was a
glued on stencilled depiction, a la Banksy, of a manacled woman, holding
out a begging bowl and wearing leg irons. She was chained to a kitchen
sink. Below this image were the comments:
Who wants to live in an institution?
No, she could never see Juniper settling down to domestic bliss. In fact,
the appended news announced that the sender was having a whale of a
time as a jelly girl, earning more than Dru by selling Alcopop-shots to
the already wildly inebriated.
She came back to her sitting room- why it was called that, she didn’t
know. She scarcely ever had the time to sit. Carefully, she added the
card to the growing collection on her faux mantelpiece. She propped
it next to Nigel’s mum’s conventional offering of twin doves trailing a
ribbon, from which two rings were suspended. It must have come
from a charity shop, as it was faded and had probably been printed in
the 1950s. Medici it was not, though the spirit was almost Borgian.
On its front it said: On Your Engagement and inside it more or less
repeated itself. Best Wishes on Your Engagement.
There was nothing else, except an acid comment worthy of
Lucrezia herself: I suppose I will have to get someone in to finish off the
skirting boards now that Nigel is to be a married man.
There was a faint hint of malice aforethought which had made Dru
wash her hands on receipt, in case there had been any plutonium
in the envelope.
She walked into the kitchen area. Brexit– yeah, that would be a good
name for a cereal. Drat! She had run out of Weetabix! She had better
get a move on as she was down to cover a colleague’s General
Studies-type lesson. When she had asked what the class were
‘doing‘, the teacher had humorously quipped: ‘Time‘ and then
had vaguely added, Oh, just give them some provocative titles and
get them to plan a discursive essay.
Thanks for the clarification, Dru had thought. She gazed at The Daily Mail
for inspiration. There was a photo of the Pope.
I know, she said to herself, what about ‘Walls or Bridges?-which should we
build? She could photocopy some stimulus-material, such as those Robert
Frost poems. He had had a mural obsession, she seemed to recall.
(Mr Donald Trump in New Hampshire, 19th August, 2015. By Michael Vadon.)
Is Donald Trump a Christian? No, that might be too awkward if the parents
had any political predilections.
Amal Clooney or George Alamuddin?
Great! Should be good for some gender-debate. And the girls like
to see what the stylish lawyer is wearing.
She would borrow some Vogues from the library, if the librarian would
allow her. Usually teachers were not permitted to touch such publications.
Flicking through the fashion pages should keep the girls quiet during the
Should she change her name to Drusilla Milford-Haven? She thought not.
She wondered if Virginia had accepted her father’s proposal. Would she
change her name to Snodbury, or even Revelley?
Editor: you really need to re-read past posts to keep up with all this!
It was at such significant times that she missed Great-Aunt Augusta. All
right, she hadn’t really been her aunt, but she had performed the function
of one and she had always enjoyed hearing about a good family illness, or
a wedding. It was such a shame that she was missing out. You do, when
you’re deceased. Pity! Carpe diem, and all that.
Of course, the old bat had never married. A lot of those old girls had not
had the opportunity after the war. However, she had demonstrated the
powerful effect of relative celibacy on longevity and the advantages of
‘keeping safe Nerissa’s ring.‘ Dru just hoped that her decision was going to
be worth it.
Bourbon biscuit, Carpe Diem, cojones, Eliza Doolittle, Gobi Desert, Harley-Davidson, Humber, hypogonadism, John Humphrys, Larkin, Low T, Marvell, Mastermind, Sarah Montague’, Stephen Colbert, Today Radio 4
Hypogonadism, Snod read.
So, The Head”s not coming back, he said to himself.
‘It means he needs to have continued treatment for the condition.’
The Headmaster’s wife added that her husband had self-prescribed a
Harley-Davidson and a trip through the Gobi Desert with a friend who
had been similarly challenged. Apparently she seemed very happy
about the outcome, as he should be away for some weeks, if not
Virginia came into Gus’ office quietly and put his rolled tie on the desk
and left him his tea tray, before exiting like a shadow.
He had removed the said garment at her house the previous night, but
had not removed much else and he had left ( in the early hours it must be
Being of the old school, he had not stayed the night chez Virginia.
In the morning he had nearly been late for the first time in his career, as the
only tie he could find was one that Diana had given him, which bore a tiny pig
and the initials MCP.
He thought that had been a joke. Had it?
He looked in the mirror in his private loo. He had felt an old rush of
testosterone last night. He knotted his favourite tie and smoothed his hair.
He looked younger; his skin looked fresher than John Humphrys’ and yet
that old dog had scored in later life. What did the presenter have to be
grumpy about? He was raking it in from Mastermind, no doubt. Mind you,
he had to work with Sarah Montague on the Today programme.
So, the job advertisement would have to be published in order that interviews
could be held in May. Would he apply? As Eliza Doolittle nearly said:
Not By our Lady Likely! ( Snod always censored himself, even in quotations, which
amused his pupils.) But was that adjustment blasphemy instead? Hmm..
He sat down to drink his tea and eat his Bourbon biscuits- ‘Back to two now’,
he noticed. Well, Lent was over and the flesh was operational again.
He typed ‘hypogonadism‘ into Google. Yes, he had been tired recently.
Apathetic, even. Grumpy? Well, he had been irritable for years. Pupils- he
would not use the term ‘students’ for boys in L5-9- such as Boothroyd-Smythe
had been grit in his oyster for decades. No wonder he was a little impatient.
What didn’t kill you made you stronger, however.
He read a comment from a comedian called Stephen Colbert who quipped that
Low T, or a dip in manly hormone, was ‘a pharmaceutical-company-recognised
condition affecting millions of men with low testosterone, previously known as
Was that why he had bought the leather jacket in Turkey? It didn’t look the
same in this cold Northern light. Maybe he should get it out again?
Smiling to himself, he thought that he would ask Virginia to High Tea at
Bradley Manor some time. It was a seduction technique that would
overpower most women, he suspected, never mind any age-related
inevitabilities of Low T.
And he was getting to be such an expert on women. Anthony Revelly’s genes
were still spiralling around his son’s DNA, like moths round a guttering flame.
Anyway, if Life was Too Short to Stuff a Mushroom, as he had read
somewhere, and goodness knows, he had never felt a desire to perform
such an activity, one’s mortal coil was definitely too short to allow his
vegetable love to grow vaster than empires yet more slow, or however
Marvell had cavalierly put it. He should seize the moment- by the cojones,
if necessary. Where had he learned that word? Carpe diem and all that.
He could even take up fly fishing. He didn’t have 30,000 years to appreciate
Virginia’s quaint honour. (He was uncomfortable with the etymology of this
adjective, but no matter..) No, they would make the sun run.
Complaining by the side of Humber he would leave to miserable poets, such as
Larkin, so he would serve out his time as Senior Master only. Let others take
up the accursed mantle of Headship; he was going to take up his life-and walk,
He may even apply to be on Mastermind. Maybe it was the moisturiser he had
taken to using recently, at Diana’s insistence, but-yes!- he definitely had fewer
wrinkles than the Today presenter. It couldn’t be attributed to post-coital
relaxation, as the activity had not yet taken place.