(Photo by Clement Bucco-Lechat.
25/10/14 USO- Gloucester Rugby)
there’s nae point in greetin’ fur yer Maw.
If it hudnae been fur yer injury,
ye might hae led yer lads tae victory.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession
of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, Drusilla had quoted to her
father with a laugh, at her small engagement celebration.
The hint had not been too subtle and he had riposted:
But what about a single man who is not yet in possession of an
indifferent pension? And, furthermore, I have the humility to question
whether I am ‘a fine thing.’
She had sighed in exasperation: Oh, Dad! Inverted pride, more like!
Now Augustus Snodbury was shaving and meditating as he did so.
He could no longer prevaricate.
Lines from Romeo and Juliet whirled around his mind, as was
usual when he had been drumming a text all term into the
recalcitrant brains(?) of restless adolescents.
I like her well enough, he mused, referencing Juliet’s words to Lady
Capulet, but reversing the gender perspective.
( He did not usually play the female lead, but would generally
assign it to some pretty-looking boy whom he wanted to punish
for a late prep.)
…if looking liking move, he continued.
Was he moved sufficiently?
Terror rushed through his veins and he nicked himself through
self-sabotage, dispensing with a need for a Mercutio, or Tybalt, to
draw blood. He was aware that he was in a fear or flight situation.
But no more deep will I endear mine eye, whispered one of his angels.
He would never again be able to watch all the Test matches in peace
and absorb himself in The Six Nations, not to mention Wimbledon.
He had travelled down to Rochester to Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil
with Drusilla, to collect the pigeon blood Burmese ruby ring from the
depository, in order to make his proposal to Virginia, with a gem from
Lady Wivern’s bequest. Dru had not wanted it. She thought it too vulgar
and had been pleased to resign any right in the stash, in exchange for the
sweet little heart-shaped ring she had acquired to mark her betrothal to
He put himself into the sandals of Caesar himself. Maybe it would be
treason, treason to his long-held bachelorhood status, but now he knew
that he must cross the last frontier and push his boat into the Rubicon
of married life.
He knew that, like Mr Bennet, he was an odd mixture of quick parts,
sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice. And yet Virginia, unlike Mrs B,
was a woman of some understanding, much information and a certain
temper. Would she agree to entering an arrangement of mutual solace?
Was he in the throes of some Queen Mab fantasy?
At his time of life he felt challenged by the concept of establishing a new
permanent relationship. It made him feel- what? Peevish. Yes, that was
When Dru had phoned her mother to tell her about the engagement, Diana
had been in raptures. Dru was relating how she intended to pay for her
wedding through crowdfunding, but Murgatroyd wouldn’t hear of such a
thing and immediately offered the pele tower as a venue, adding that they
would have a joint celebration at which he and Diana would renew their
Maybe he should make it a threesome. No, that was something entirely
different, he believed. Three weddings and whose funeral?
They were having a piper and all the rigmarole that Snod despised.
Anyway, she might turn him down! That would be a relief, in a way.
He took the ring out of the box and held it to the light. It seemed to have
flaws in the stone. When he was having it cleaned he had asked the
jeweller about it.
All the best stones do, he had remarked. It shows their authenticity.
Well, he hoped Virginia would appreciate him, warts and all!
Alea Iacta Est!
Berrima, callipyge, camelids, Deborah Robson, Edward III, Emmerdale, House of Lords, Lord Chancellor, New Zealand rugby team, riggwelter, Six Nations, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, The Merchant of Venice, The Speaker, vicunas, Woolsack, World Alternative games
Off to lunch with Brassica and the two husbands. Decided on The
Woolpack. It is fairly local and therefore the males can free
themselves from their jesses, to adopt a falconry metaphor, and
can escape early in the afternoon, to watch both Six Nations rugby
The Woolpack. Hmmm. Isn’t that the stuffed seat in The House of
Lords which the speaker sits on? In the fourteenth century,
Edward III thought that if his Lord Chancellor sat on it in council,
then it would remind everyone of the importance of the wool
The joke is that, in 1938, it was found to be padded with
horsehair. So, our present equine scam is not the first.
But, as Brassie informed me, we were not going to The Woolsack.
There is a difference between sacks and packs? And padding/
Being a convert to the revived craft of knitting, she told me about
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Dorothy Robson, which
features more than 200 animals and their fibers.
(Don’t you just hate American spelling? I mean over here.)
Fleece and Fiber -the title sounds a bit like that breakfast cereal
that I eat to prevent bowel cancer. It’s quite edible with
supplementary prunes, but I digress.
All this spinning and toiling; it’s not Brassie’s usual
bent. Well, apparently fibres can be removed and spun from
camelids and vicunas, whatever they are. She will probably knit
me a scratchy scarf for my birthday. Lucky me. I suppose I can tell
her that I’m allergic to lanolin.
We were going to have to rush back to the telly for the Wales/ Italy
Game, indigestion or not.
For this was serious. No, it wasn’t a competition to trial
individuals, to see them showcase their personal
fitness, by rushing up and down 1:4 gradients with a stuffed sack
on their backs, as is an annual tradition in Gemau Byd
Arallddewisol – World Alternative Games.
But, look you, the Italians might as well have been bulky bales, as
evidenced by their subsequent complete trouncing. Maybe the weird
Celtic training has come in handy.
You know, I said. I always get mixed up between woolpacks and
woolsacks. Wasn’t The Woolpack a fictional pub on Emmerdale?
Yes, replied a Husband, but I don’t think the one we are going to
today is run by anyone called Chastity.
Husband 2, emboldened by the sarcasm of Numero Uno, and slightly
edgy in case he missed the first few minutes of the match, added:
Yes, you wouldn’t want to patronise that particular hostelry, as in
1993 there was a plane crash which destroyed its wine bar and
killed off trapped punters.
Warming to the theme of carnage, the other offered more dramatic
detail than was probably in the original series, which wasn’t too
Yes, in 2003 it was struck by lightning and a chimney fell down and
killed Tricia Dingle.
(These chaps seem to have retained a lot of televisual, nay, soap
operatic facts. Maybe it is because they have slouched around for
decades, watching everything and anything that pops up on the
Should we be going to a pub with the same name? asked Brassie
Don’t be superstitious, I interjected. There are thousands of pubs
called The Woolsack -I mean Woolpack.
Brassie was worried that her GPS might be confused. Her
navigational skills are somewhat challenged, revealing her lack
of an inner compass.
Cosmo, her husband, laughed. Well, even you can’t drive to The
Woolpack in the Berrima district of Australia.
Why are you mentioning that one? I asked.
Oh, the barmaid identified a serial axe murderer- a bushranger,
who drank there.
Cosmo! You are putting me off my lunch! implored Brassie, driving
a little erratically, even for her.
But it didn’t put me off mine. Afterwards I kept thinking about
sheep terminology and Shakespearean quotations, such as wooly
breeders and eanlings and tainted wethers of the flock. Good old
Merchant of Venice- maybe my favourite play.
When the guys were watching the matches-plural!-I looked up
some sheep terminology, just to have something useful to do.
I discovered and immediately liked the graphic New Zealand
expression, Rattle your dags! which basically is a rude way of
inviting someone to be less dilatory.
(Dags are the bits of unmentionable which attach themselves to
the fluffy hindquarters of sheep.) Probably the New Zealand rugby
team are familiar with this exhortation.
Brassie was less enthusiastic.
And, having over-eaten at The Woolpack, I could imagine being
described as callipyge: apparently this refers to a natural genetic
mutation which produces over-developed hindquarters.
Alternatively, or additionally, maybe I was falling into the category
of a riggwelter. This is a sheep that has fallen on its back with its
feet stuck in the air, demonstrating an inability to right itself
owing to its heavy fleece.
I knew that I shouldn’t have shared a muffin the other day and
now I have consumed a bowl of handcut chips. So, if I don’t want
to resemble a bulging woolsack, perhaps I should desist from
stuffing myself any further.