(Image from Decameron- no, not David Cameron, though he got us into this farce.)
Juncker: No such thing
as a free lunch, chere
Amanda Holden, biological warfare, Bomb Disposal, bubonic plague, Career Advice, Catcher in the Rye, Daesh, davenport, David Cameron, eNatalNNatttck stills thout, foreskin, GCSE, hitf it about in The Boer War it abouta, Kleenex, Latin conjugation, Paracetamol, Rorke's Drift, Stoics, The Classics Quarterly, y by the collarssmetaphorical etaphoricaletaphorical collaretrrin a strnn a strhholdoeueheadlocktheae., Zeno of Citium
The Dairy of John-Boothroyd-Smythe-May 24th, 2016
(well, he is dyslexic: Editor)
Okay, Mum is going ballistic. No one has a sense of humour
nowadays. I only tied my old mobile to the pipes in the boys’
bogs for a laugh. Mrs Fisher-Gyles should have recognised my
voice. My Middle East accent isn’t that good and I said,’Dash‘,
instead of ‘Daesh.’
So now I am suspended- not literally, from the flagpole, but as
Snod wants to see me before Mum has to collect me, but the old
fart has flu. Apparently it is the first time he has been off since
Rorke’s Drift, or something.
I hope I don’t catch something from him- apart from an ability
to memorise Latin verb tables, which could prove handy for
May 25th, 2016
Had to hand in an overdue essay to Mr Milford-Haven on the
subject: Does Art imitate Life, or vice versa?
How should I know? I haven’t lived long enough to work it out.
Except, there was something weirdly familiar when I went up
to have my interrogation with Old Snod. I mean, we had just
been reading ‘Catcher in the Rye‘ in English- I mean in class- and
the whole episode was a bit of a re-run of Chapter 2, when
Holden goes to call on his old History teacher who has the grippe,
but who still finds the strength to grip his student’s metaphorical
collar in a headlock manoeuvre.
The minute I knocked on his door, I wanted to leave.
He barked: Come in boy! and started to cough.
Snod was propped up on some old sofa, with his horrible white feet
with their yellow soles, right in my line of vision.
I mean, in some cultures it is rude to show the soles of your feet.
I wondered if I should tell him, but he just scowled: Sit Down! and
started coughing again.
If I catch this lurgy I am going to get my parents to sue the school,
but technically I might not be a pupil at the moment. It depends when
the suspension- or, is it expulsion?- dates from.
I had to move a box of Kleenex off a stool before I could sit down. There
was no hand sanitiser around, and I was getting worried, as I probably
don’t have immunity to all the shit these old guys got in their long-
distant youth. Bubonic plague and stuff. Lot of it about in Natal back
I couldn’t take my eyes off the monogram, logo thing on his manky old
towelling dressing gown. Sad! It was the school crest. It must have been
a thousand years since any of that nightwear shit was regulation uniform.
He probably nicked it from Lost Property a millennium ago.
So, you finally got the axe? was all he said.
I was a bit taken aback, as I was sure this was a re-enactment of the
Holden interview- and I don’t mean Amanda. I mean, he has probably
never heard of her. Even Dad hasn’t.
(Holden in London, 2014.
I’m talking to you, boy!
What was your game?
Just larking around, sir!
Snod trumpeted into a Kleenex and examined the effluent. Gross!
(Mental note: Avoid shaking hands with him at the termination of the
He threw the rolled up tissue across the room and hit the waste paper
basket, demonstrating his famed skills as a bowler, which I personally
witnessed at last year’s Staff v Pupils match. We still won, though.
Good aim, sir!
Snod sat bolt upright and chucked a copy of The Classics Quarterly- the
boring magazine he always tries to add to our end-of-term bills for
‘Extras’ –off his bed thingy and onto the floor.
And what exactly is your aim in life, boy?
I looked rather blank.
Because I have had to fail you on so many occasions for not making the
slightest attempt to learn any of the conjugation tables. Amavi…he
Eh, amavisti, amavit…
So you’re not quite as stupid as you look, he said.
I don’t think they’re allowed to say things like that now, but I took
it as I kinda respect the old buffer. He tells it like it is.
Fetch me your mock paper! It’s on the davenport.
I didn’t have a clue what a davenport was, so I just followed
Bloody h… He had looked out all my past papers, since
Thirty eight percent. What was going through that brain of yours?
I couldn’t help it, sir. It was all the drawings. They distracted me.
What drawings? Do you mean the illustrations in your textbook?
Yes, sir. I learn visually. I really liked that drawing of the retired
guy who left his plough and came back to govern after he’d retired.
I can imagine you doing that, sir. I thought a bit of flattery might
distract him. I continued to gabble: And I liked the guy who put
his hand in the fire and kept it there. And all those guys who put baby
foxes down their togas and let them gnaw at their vitals– I said ‘vitals‘
as I wasn’t sure if ‘privates‘ was a term to use in front of one’s
(Zeno of Citium, Stoic school. Shakko-own work
pushkin.jpg ; Jan 2008. Pushkin Museum cast. Original: Naples)
Stoics, boy! And it wouldn’t harm you to develop some discipline.
And perseverance, endurance…
He always goes on about that when it’s his turn to take Assembly.
Even I know he pinched it from the Apostle Paul telling everyone
that, even if you have a shitty time, it is good for you- ultimately.
Fruits of the Spirit they are called, I think. Fruits of the loom are on
a t-shirt logo and I think they represent a cornucopia. See, I’m not
that bad at vocab.
Guys still put ferrets down their trousers, I ventured.
Nothing to do with it! he snorted. What I am saying is that even
when philosophers did apparently stupid things, they had some
methodology to their behaviour.
Madness, I interrupted. Method in their madness.
He looked as if he was going to explode, but it was maybe just his
No. I am wondering why you never seem to have any rationale to
your acts of random folly.
I didn’t know if this was a declarative or an interrogative. I wondered
if I should ask him and he might be pleased that I had been listening
in English Language.
Never heard of it. Foreskin, maybe. Hoped this wasn’t going to
become a sex talk about pubes and shit like that.
These ancient stalwarts of the Classical World did not go around playing
silly games with mobile phones, he splurted.
That was only because they didn’t have the technology, sir.
I thought he’d be pleased that I was aware of anachronism. That
was another thing we learned in English recently.
He swallowed one Paracetamol after another, in rapid succession.
I was going to tell him that taking too many can give you liver
failure, but I reckoned his liver was probably on its way out anyway.
Do you think we all enjoy seeing you fail?
Not a lot, sir, I suppose.
The army. That’s where you’d do well. Knock the insubordination
out of you. Might be the making of you. I’ll suggest the cadets to
your mother. Bomb disposal. Hmmm. You might enjoy that. You
certainly have a nerve, if not the nerve for it.
Thank you, sir.
I think the old boy still has the intuition in Career Advice. He’s
not too wide of the mark. I hope Mum agrees. Dad will be pleased
that someone has an idea of what to do with me.
And it can’t be more dangerous than being in a stuffy room,
breathing in the same fug as a viral schoolmaster.
I stood up and forgot to avoid shaking his hand. Yuck. Where’s the
nearest sanitiser? But at least I had my revenge by touching the whole
banister and every door handle on the way down. Biological warfare.
Revenge is sweet.
Augustus Snodbury was very glad that he had made it to the end of term.
Virginia had been very happy with the pigeon’s egg ruby engagement
ring. Personally, like Dru, he had thought it a tad vulgar- its stone of
proportions more like the bump on Susan’s head.
Susan? I hear you query, Dear Reader.
Candia: Yes, the one who was/is with God.
Reader: I’m still no wiser.
Candia: Folk don’t seem to read ‘Romeo and Juliet’ now. Even the kids
just watch the Baz Luhrmann film. The Nurse’s child who died.
You know, that was why the old gal could be a wet nurse. Geddit?
Susan died when she fell and sustained a bump as big as a young
Candia: Testicle to you.
Reader: Ah! But what’s this to do with Virginia’s ring? Oh, yes!
Anyway, Virginia had clearly thought it was no more than she
deserved, as she quoted The Book of Proverbs– the bit about a virtuous
woman’s price being above rubies.
Reader: She is getting rather full of herself.
Candia: I agree. I could make her fall off her stilettos, if you like. I needn’t
wait till Lammas Tide.
Male Reader: No, don’t do that. We like to read about her ankles. Do you
think she will fall backwards in the near future?
Candia: Not so long as I can tease this sorry saga out! But, at least, Gus
is not ‘a man of wax.’
Reader (of either gender-or even both): No, we think that phrase refers
Candia: Oh, don’t be too hard on Nigel. He’s got enough on his plate.
His mother is trying to create difficulties about the wedding.
Reader: She has wormwood on her dug?
Candia: Her dug is all right. She’s prepared to check him into kennels
for the occasion.
Reader: Something is lost in translation here.
Candia: It is just that she feels she is losing a son rather than gaining
a daughter-in-law. She also thinks that she will have to hire a decorator
in future, as Nigel is bound to be more occupied as a married man.
Reader: So where are they all, in their Easter holidays?
Candia: Snod and Virginia are with Diana and Murgatroyd in the
Borders, sorting out the guest lists and logistics, but Dru and Nigel
have taken themselves off to Lanzarote. They bumped into David
Cameron the other day. Dru took a selfie with SamCam and invited
her-and Dave- to the wedding(s).
Reader (impressed): Did they accept?
Candia: No, they politely responded with the equivalent of: It is an
honour that we dream not of.
Reader: He might be free by then. By the way, is Snod happier about
Candia: I believe that he took Virginia’s hands and said: ‘Perhaps
my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But
I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now.’
Reader: That’s from Krapp’s Last Tape and Embers.
Candia: Typical. One of his obsessions. He always talks…you know…
stuff like: ‘I can’t go on like this.’
Reader: And then he does?
Candia: Precisely. But Virginia can handle him. At least, I think she
Virginia: Yes, I can.
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.
Brassica laughed, It’s the English teacher in you. You
can’t stop relating everything to literature.
I know, but hark at this. Et tu, Brute and all that!
I pushed my scribblings over the table, for her to read.
Boris: If there be any in this assembly,
any dear friend of Cameron’s, to him say
that Boris’ love to Cameron was no less than his.
If then that friend demand why Boris rose against
Cameron, this is my answer:
Not that I loved Cameron less,
but that I loved Britain more….as he was
valiant, I honour him: but as
he was ambitious, I slew him.
Here comes his corpse,
mourned by those who shall receive
the benefits of his dying:
a place in Parliament. With this I depart,
pleading that I slew my Bullingdon pal,
for Britain’s good.
Citizen;: This Cameron was a traitor.
Osborne: Friends, MPs, Countrymen, lend me your wallets.
The noble Boris hath told you Cameron was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault
and grievously hath Cameron answered it.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me,
but Boris says he was ambitious- and Boris is an honourable man.
Cameron brought favours back from Brussels,
whose ransoms the general coffers might have filled.
When the poor have cried, Cameron hath wept.
You all did love him once, not without cause.
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts
and men have lost their reason.
Citizen: I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Osborne: Yesterday the word of Cameron might
have influenced the world; now lies he there.
You all know Gove and Boris are honourable men.
And here’s a parchment with the seal of Cameron.
Let but The Commons hear this testament.
Some may go and kiss dead Cameron’s wounds-
yea, beg a law of him for memory
and, dying, mention it within their wills,
bequeathing it as a rich legacy unto their issue.
I fear I wrong the honourable men
whose daggers have stabb’d Cameron.
Citizens: They are traitors!
Osborne: Boris, as you know, was Cameron’s angel,
so this is the most unkindest cut of all.
Citizens: Let’s hear his bequest!
Osborne: To every British citizen he gives 75 drachmas.
Citizen: Most noble Cameron! We’ll avenge his death.
Osborne: Now mischief, thou art afoot.
Take what course you will.
Act 4 tbc
barista, Botticelli, Brassica, Brunetti's, Chinese New Year, Commissario Brunetti, Commissario Montelbano, David Cameron, Donna Leon, Donna Tartt, Hunter wellies, kiddychino, Nicola Sturgeon, Rebekah Brooks, salted caramel eclair, SamCam, Singapore Sling
(image by abc 10)
So basically you have been unfaithful to ‘Costamuchamoulah’ cafe here in
Suttonford? Brassica accused me.
It wasn’t like that, I tried to defend myself. No bog-brush bearded baristas
were involved, I assure you. It’s just that ‘Brunetti’s’ salted caramel eclairs in
Melbourne were so tempting.
That Italian name’s familiar, Brassie interrupted.
You’re thinking of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti, I surmised, knowing
she’d read a couple of the volumes in the series at her ‘Bookworm’ group.
But, you know, I’d prefer to make a tangential mental leap to summon up a
vision of Commissario Montelbano- the young one, I mused. Actually, one
of the waiters who brought me extra marshmallows was kind of like him. He
had the same bandy legs, but Botticelli curls.
Mmm, quite a lot of Italian guys do. Yet, you’ve been swanning round the
globe while the rest of us were generating mould in our ‘Hunter’ wellies from
the condensation build-up of Apocalyptic precipitation levels?
Join Nicola Sturgeon’s clan. But not David Cameron’s.
She shares your taste in trending wellies. Apparently Cameron wore a cheap
pair when he visited the flooded areas.
Oh, that was for the press, she exclaimed. Do you think SamCam would
let him out in anything cheap if he was (say) visiting Rebekah Brooks for a bit
of a pot supper, after helping her to muck out at her stables?
Okay, I’m sorry. By the by, I would be surprised if SamCam, as you call her,
allowed him out at all, when he is off-duty. She would probably prefer him to
come home smelling of roses.
Why do I always get Donna Leon and Donna Tartt mixed up?
Dunno. Easily done. I took my tablet out of its case.
Look! This was us on our final evening at ‘Raffles’, on the way home.
Put it away, barked Brassie. I’m not interested. Anyway, you said you
went there twice, so I can’t forgive you.
She couldn’t resist a peek.
What were you trying to do? Live up to your gravatar?
No, I was just having a ‘Singapore Sling.’
She drew me an even greater disapproving look.
Not a ‘fling’. You can get virgin ones, you know, I pleaded.
No, actually. Look, I’m not trying to be elitist. Nowadays
it is a virtual extension of a creche. Kids everywhere. All these
special venues are commandeered by fathers in baseball caps
and shorts and mothers pushing giant buggies with babes who
only require feeder cups. You dress for dinner and they throw theirs
on the floor- or ground-, if we are referring to the outside courtyard.
Sometimes the infant accessories even manage to project their
regurgitations into your lap.
I do so agree on the distinction you make between ‘floor’ and
‘ground’, Brassie reflected. But, have you always been irritated
by kids, Candia? I mean, didn’t you once teach the little darlings?
Surely teachers like children?
Don’t bank on that, I replied. D’habitude, we only like the well-behaved
ones, of which there are fewer and fewer. I don’t mind them at informal
eateries at lunchtime, but if I am spending a mint on a rare grown-up
treat, I prefer a kiddychino-free zone.
Coming to ‘Costamuchamoulah’ by Chinese New Year, I predict.
We both sighed.
Assumption, BBC Director General, Bento box, Born Again, Canon Dr Judith Maltby, Celts, crystal ball, David Cameron, Dean of St Paul's, divine imprimatur, Eastenders, Evan Davis, Gordon Brown, Helen Boaden, Hilary Benn, Horatio Hornblower, Hugh Grant, Ioan Gruffudd, James Bond, Last Judgement, Leroy Rosenior, Linda Carter, Mark Ford, Martha Lane Fox, Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon, Pandora's Box, Pepuzians, Piers Brosnan, Priscillians, Queen Vic, Recording Angel, Rev Giles Fraser, Sean Connery, Shriti Vadera, The Guardian, Timothy Dalton, University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor, wasabi
So, how are you getting on with your belated Spring cleaning and
general clear-out? Brassica asked me.
It’s too difficult. Every time I investigate a box, I start reading
its contents. Today, for instance, I found a ‘Guardian’ supplement
from 2004 which was all about predictions for 2020.
Hmm…crystal ball gazing. Did they get things right? she enquired,
munching something out of her Bento box- Costamuchamoulah’s
Well, there was an article in Part Two, dated 28th September,
2004, called ‘Who Will Be Who?
Ooh, do spill the beans!
It predicted that Ioan Gruffudd would be James Bond.
You mean that guy who was Horatio Hornblower?
Yip. Timothy Dalton was Welsh, remember! So, they may have
been thinking in similar terms.
Brassie looked sceptical. She has always liked Sean Connery,
followed by Piers Brosnan.
Then it advocated Martha Lane Fox as possible Vice Chancellor
of the University of Cambridge.
Because she is big on marketing and global brands?
I was surprised that Brassie had heard of her.
Yes, students are customers now, you must realise.
What about the monarch?
Oh, they assumed The Queen would be carrying on.
Charles will be 71 then. The Queen will be 94.
Who did they think would take over from Miliband?
They didn’t know then that Ed would have been Leader!
Of course not. Who did they back?
They might be right. Could do worse. They backed David Cameron
for Leader of the Conservatives. Back then he was a fresh-faced
Chief Policy Co-ordinator, aged 37. They said he was leader of The
Notting Hill set.
I thought that was Hugh Grant.
They did mention his ‘raffish good looks.’
No, they must have mixed him up with Hugh Grant. Anyway, who
else was nominated?
Leroy Rosenior as England Football Manager; Helen Boaden as BBC
I do like their clothes, Brassie sighed.
Different Boden, I explained.
Ask me another. I pinched a sliver of sea cucumber from her
lacquered top layer.
Poet Laureate? She shut the lid.
Who?… Archbishop of Canterbury?
Canon Dr Judith Maltby.
Oh, I like her, approved Brassie. I heard her in Wintonchester
Only trouble is that she was nominated by Rev Giles Fraser.
And look what happened to him.
(Photo by Kaihsu Tai)
Brassie chewed reflectively. Wasn’t he the Dean of St Paul’s?
The one that is a Real Christian.
Brassie has her own categories of Christians- ranging from Born
Again to Brain Dead and then, suddenly she will find one to whom
she will give a Divine Imprimatur, almost as if she is standing in the
wings at The Last Judgement as The Recording Angel.
See, in 2004, women couldn’t be ordained as bishops. So, it was quite
a bold statement, I pointed out. Mind you, I think that there were three
major groups in post-Nicene Christianity that supported women priests
in powerful positions-the Pepuzians, Priscillians and some Celtic
The Celts! Brassie spat out a fibrous shred of something vegetable.
She doesn’t like Nicola Sturgeon and doesn’t believe she should be
encouraged in any Assumption to any powerful position. (Women
can be so mean about other women, n’est-ce-pas?)
What about soap stars? She changed the subject.
(Photo by Matt Pearson)
Oh, Kevin O’Sullivan of ‘The Daily Mirror’ thought that Sonia Jackson’s
baby should be kept in the ‘Eastenders’ script and could be a future
landlady, if Barbara Windsor stopped clinging to the post.
So that was two Windsors still in power, in their estimation?
Yes. But they were wrong about that. The current landlady is Linda
Carter, I believe- though I never watch it.
I looked around Costamuchamoulah nervously.
(Photo by Portlandvillage)
I could tell Brassie was losing focus now. She was more interested in
opening the Pandora’s Box- I mean the Bento box. I wondered what she
had in there. Maybe it would be like a Goya nightmare, with all sorts of
weird and frightening creatures escaping and circling our heads. And that
was only the sociological prophecies, not the contents of her lunchbox!
She took off the top layer. Yum! Beef and noodles!
Don’t you want to know who they thought would be Governor of The
Bank of England?
Well, it was the then economic adviser to Gordon Brown.
(Photo-Wikimedia Commons. Official gov.uk portrait)
She looked sardonical. Here! Try a wasabi-flavoured forkful of this!
My throat was on fire, so I didn’t tell her Evan Davis’ recommendation:
I bet they didn’t have Bento boxes in Suttonford in 2004.
Acorn Antiques, Adam Smith, Aesop, Bishop of Rochester, David Cameron, Edmund Spenser, heraldic beasts, Lewis Carroll, Lion and Unicorn, Mrs Overall, narwhal, Orwell, plum cake, sovereignty, Through the Looking Glass, White King
Murgatroyd was contemplating the crest over his lintel. As in so many Border
areas, it featured a lion and a unicorn. Pity the unicorn was losing its gilding.
The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown;
the lion beat the unicorn all round about the town.
Some gave them white bread and some gave them brown;
some gave them plumb [sic] cake and drummed them out of town.
Murgatroyd’s curiosity was aroused. What’s all that about?
Oh, it’s an old nursery rhyme. I think it refers to the fact that the Union was
less than amicable. There are various stories about which animal achieved
ascendency. Like a certain First Minister, the unicorn believed its horn-oil?-
was a universal panacea. I think it was the poet, Edmund Spenser, who
relayed how the unicorn was trapped in a tree and impaled itself by its horn
when it made a rash assault on the lion.
Murgatroyd looked thoughtful: I think that George Orwell published
something called ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, come to think of it. He thought
that the conflict between them would create a new kind of democratic
socialism. I seem to remember that he wanted to retain the Royal Family,
though, and he cautioned that everyone considers themselves British, as
soon as the need for defence arises.
Hmm, interesting, replied Diana. Lewis Carroll in ‘Through the Looking
Glass’ referred to the rhyme. Both heraldic beasts belong to the same
king and are supposed to be on the same side, making their rivalry
absurd. The Unicorn, like the Adam Smith wannabe, the Great Narwhal-
-cum Pinocchio porky pie eater, nay porcine teller himself, appeals to Alice,
aka the electorate, for mutual trust. David Cameron seems to be positively
leonine, as he asks for the cake to be handed round first and cut in slices
Oh, I remember that, enthused Murgatroyd. The cake kept returning to its
unified whole, didn’t it? Even when divided into three.
Mrs Connolly came out into the garden carrying a tray, very much in the
manner of Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques. A pot of tea and a fine plum
cake was sliding precariously to one side.
What do you know about the lion and the unicorn, Mrs C? asked
Murgatroyd, relieving her of the weight of the comestibles.
Weel now, my understanding is that they represented the union of two
warring nations and they showed that the natural order was supported
by the balanced forces of Nature-ie/ the sun and the moon, held in
harmony. Individually they are imbalanced, but together no other creature
can match their strength, because they are a union of opposites. Their
styles of sovereignty may be different, but they are complimentary.
Well expressed, Mrs C! cheered Murgatroyd, pouring the tea himself and
forgetting that she liked to play ‘mother.’
Encouraged by the response, Mrs C continued:
Wert thou the unicorn, pride and wrath would confine thee,
and make thine own self the conquest of thy fury.
Who said that? asked Diana.
Och, The Bishop of Rochester, when he recorded an obscure Aesop’s
fable concerning the twa beasties. Aye, the lion can be tricky when he
appears to be conciliatory. The unicorn should never relinquish its horn
to him, even on the appeal for a crutch. She’ll just be hoisted with her
own petard. They should all listen to Her Majesty and think very carefully.
Well, it’s late in the day now, Mrs C, volunteered Diana. But the White
King had the last word in Carroll’s story: ‘Fair play with the cake!’ If they
don’t justly divide the spoils they’ll both be drummed out of town.
Very true, agreed Mrs C.
Alistair Darling, anthrax, bacon sandwich, David Cameron, deep-fried Mars bar, Edinburgh University, Eeyore, Fiat Panda, geek out, Gruinard, heffalumps, Kung Fu Panda, LSE, Miliband, Piglet, SNP, Tab student newspaper, The Gaffe, Valley of Peace, Wol, woozles
Little did I know that the bear-like creature with dark rings round its eyes
would be making the headlines today, after having given him sufficient
publicity yesterday. I must be ahead of trend.
Apparently Kung Fu Panda accepted an unconditional offer of admission to
the prestigious LSE. I know Alistair Darling will be relieved that the would-
be Master is at last showing some interest in Economics, but, alas it may be
too late for the poor diasporran Scots who have been denied a vote in the
Someone told the student newspaper Tab that they thought his acceptance
had been some kind of a racist joke. Some wondered if he would be paying
tuition fees. Yes, the displaced Jocks definitely agree that their denial of
participation in the pseudo-democratic process is a joke.
Just a not very funny one. About as comical as the illegal immigrant who
sneaked over the Channel in someone else’s Fiat Panda. Once Border
Controls are established they won’t allow Kung Fu Panda into what’s left
of the rump of a dismembered kingdom. Not if they have any sense. Not
even to take up his notional place at LSE.
There’s a nice wee island called Gruinard where he could strutt his stuff
amid the anthrax and a flock of compliant sheep. It’s aye been guid
for hosting the odd rebel or outcast.
Some of the student fraternity took the gaffel well, considering that
everyone needs a laugh now and then, but most entrepreneurial
ex-pats do not find the debate entertaining in the slightest.
It transpires that Kung Fu Panda was just a test name, amongst
Well, I wonder who on earth Piglet corresponds to?!
And lest our comments be imbalanced, we need to point out that racism is in
no way a criticism solely attributed to the tutelary camp. The President of the
Edinburgh University Union’s SNP Branch allegedly called David Cameron an
‘English t***‘ She defended herself by saying the comment was ‘open to
interpretation’. Just like my posts!
But which word was deemed to be the more offensive, I wonder?
Wol could also refer to Kung Fu Panda’s sparring partner. He goes in
for long stuffy speeches and sees himself as a mentor and elder statesman.
Like Kung Fu Panda, when he hasn’t read a notice, he bluffs his way
Eeyore takes a leaf out of KF Panda’s book in that he offers things which
are not in his power to endow- Piglet’s house, for example. The pessimistic
one offered it to Wol without ascertaining its true owner. KFP is adept at
generously playing Santa Claus with the rest of the Union’s assets.
The only unifying thing about the whole bang shoot of them is that they’d
better look out for the Beetles. They are furthermore distracted by having
run-ins with political heffalumps who are largely figments of their
over-stretched imaginations, but they’d be better to look over their
shoulders for woozles, who are known to inhabit cold, snowy landscapes
and don’t take political prisoners.
Let’s face it, they all want the honey- oil? for themselves!
Now Legend of Awesomeness, Backson Miliband, is trying to say that he
will restore everyday things that he has destroyed. Everyone in The Valley
of Peace needs to maintain calm and geek out, as they say in Disney
I’m sure KF Panda has a redundant bacon sandwich he could loan the
Legend, along with a deep fried Mars Bar. That should keep his strength
up when the going gets tough and the tough get going..
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Baltic cruise, Basingstoke, Beam me up.., bingo, Bradford on Avon, Bridge, Bridge Mints, Catherine the Great, cribbage, Dame Edna, David Cameron, deviation, Estonia, Faberge, fly fishing, geophysicist, George Clooney, George Osborne, hesitation, Inner Hebrides, ISA, Jeremy Paxman, Kit-Kat, Knights in White Satin, Lamborghini, Madge, Martini, Missing Amber Room, Neil Oliver, Nick Clegg, pasty, Poleconomy, Potemkin, Putin, religious affairs broadcaster, repetition, St Petersburg, Tallinn, The Hermitage, Tuck shop, Waldemar Janusczak, White Nights, Winter Palace
Diana Fotheringay-Syylk was feeling like the fishy guest who putrefies after
three days. Not that Sonia had hinted that she had a sudden need to reclaim
her spare rooms, but it was just that both women required their own space.
Diana felt that it was a bit like sharing The Winter Palace with Catherine the
Great, and it sometimes felt like a similar temperature too.
Diana’s estate agent was frantically sending her texts, reporting on the
positive viewings on her cottage in Bradford-on-Avon. Prospective buyers
adored the quaint windows- as far as she could recall there were none.
Couples loved its tranquil position in a quiet village. ‘Bustling town‘ was how
she would have described its location. And why did they mention the river
after the worst flooding in a century? She was in an elevated position and
hadn’t had a teaspoonful of groundwater in her cellar. So far there had
been no second viewings. Still, it wasn’t Easter yet.
Sonia kept wanting to play Cribbage, Bridge or a variety of Bingo every
evening. Diana didn’t care for these games and would have been happy to
provide the canapes for the occasion, if only George Osborne, or
Nick Clegg could have dropped by, so that she could sit the session out, like
some kind of Madge to Edna’s grande dame. She had a sneaking
suspicion that Sonia would have eaten the politicians up as efficiently as
she disposed of a box of Bridge Mints and that she would probably have
preferred Potemkin to drop by unannounced for a game of Poleconomy.
Apparently the Chancellor and the Deputy PM love Bingo– so much so that
they were right behind tax reductions of 50% on the game. (David Cameron
was less enthusiastic. He prefers a night in with a pasty.)
Just as well that Sonia had given up driving, after she embedded her car in the
frontage of Costamuchamoulah, must-seen cafe. Otherwise she might have
been tempted to cash in her annuities to purchase a Lamborghini to roar up
Diana could imagine other old biddies, such as Ginevra, being all too keen to
make a black hole in their pension funds in order to subsidise a Martini habit,
It wouldn’t take too many cashed-in ISAs to buy a toy boy and it would
probably be more short term fun than having to fund an Eastern European
Diana was beginning to realise that she wasn’t as young as she had been. She
had been planning a Sagbag cruise to somewhere culturally interesting, such as
St Petersburg. It would have been something to look forward to after the
house sale and removal stresses. She quite fancied listening to some minor
celebrity rabbiting on about Faberge eggs, or leaning over the deck rail with a
George Osborne lookalike..(No, she meant Clooney, surely?), night after White
Night, or Knight after White Knight, not necessarily in white satin, or even
Now Putin had put paid to that Baltic fantasy.
Really someone should put the ‘Ras‘ back into his name. She held him
personally responsible for preventing her from viewing The Hermitage. How
one small man could spoil everything was very irritating. If he had been a
pupil in her class, she would have told him not to be so greedy. The lion’s
share was not his to grab. She would have made him put it back and go to
the end of the queue.
He would have to have said, Thank you, Mrs Fotheringay-Syylk, with no
repetition, hesitation, or deviation. And if she had detected any hint of
sarcasm or impertinence in his tone, then he would have been the last to
leave the classroom and may have even had to stay behind to help her
tidy up Lost Property. (But how do you tidy up Crimea?)
Sanctions! She knew all about them. Charging round the hockey pitch
twenty times would have sorted him out. As for the Tuck Shop– out of
bounds till the end of term! Or maybe till the end of time.
She absent-mindedly bent down to pick up the mail from the doormat.
There were two letters, both addressed to herself.
There was an envelope stamped with the estate agent’s logo.
She ripped it open. She was being offered a record price for the cottage!
Bingo! Drusilla had been right. It had flown away.
She opened the other missive. It was from Sagbag Cruises and included a
published list of floating lectures. Geophysicists, Religious Affairs
Where was Bendor Grosvenor? That was what she wanted to know.
Maybe he didn’t do Sagbag. What about Neil Oliver?
Oh, wow! Waldemar Janusczak on The Missing Amber Room. A cruise to
Tallinn. Sign me up, Scotty! she screamed. I’m definitely going for that one,
whether he was born in Basingstoke, or not. I must ask Drusilla if she wants
to go too. I mean to Estonia, not Basingstoke. Imagine sailing round all those
roundabouts! You’d feel seasick!
I can’t understand why Dru prefers Andrew Graham-Dixon. He showed himself
up on University Challenge. No, even Jeremy Paxman giving his fly-fishing tips
on a nautical jaunt round the Inner Hebrides isn’t as good as Waldemar on a
And by the look of the price offered for my erstwhile humble abode, I can
treat my dear daughter too.