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.