Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

A Nocturnal Academe

Penned upon the 7th of May, 2012

Scene: Atop a stone wall of small historic interest. Arrive two students from opposing sides.
D: Hullo, Chuffers!
C: Oh, hullo, Duffers! What are you sneaking in for?
D: I’ve just been at Buffers’ party, over at All Voles.
C: Couldn’t get leave to go?
D: No, I suppose I could have if I wanted to, but I made a bet with old Juffers that I wouldn’t touch anything with hinges for the rest of term, so I have to get in and out of college this way.
C: Ah, I see! That does sound a jolly good wheeze, though, and it’ll be worth it when you collect your winnings.
D: The rottenest part is that he worked out that the buckles on my pumps count as little hinges, so I had to wear my bedroom slippers to the dashed party!
C: Poor form on Juffers, there – I mean, rags in classes are all right, but stopping you from dancing?
D: You said it. But what are you sneaking out for? Meetin’ anybody?
C: No I thought I’d go look up the midnight mass over at New Pangolins, you know. The new prof’s taking it – Father Partridge, the Arts Parson. Wouldn’t have to go over the wall, but I’m gated, worst luck.
D: I didn’t know that! What happened – get caught sneaking goslings into the buttery again?
C: Those were cygnets, and I really don’t see why they objected to them. I made sure they were all subfusc.
D: They did look smart in those little neckties.
C: No, this time it was for putting a chamberpot on a chimneystack.
D: They gated you for that? But that’s a classic rag!
C: It went a bit pear-shaped this time. You remember that pudding my Aunt Chlamydia gave me last Christmas?
D: Didn’t you donate that to the college raffle?
C: That’s right – but old Puffers won it, and he put it up as a prize at his father’s sports carnival.
D: His father, the Temperance teacher?
C: That’s the chap. I didn’t know school lunches could be irrational until he started campaigning to rationalise them, but we all go along to show support. Anyhow, Nuffers won the pudding in the punting triathlon, and he put it up as forfeit for the grown-up conkers tournament.
D: Trousers-on or -off grown-up conkers?
C: Off. And, well, I came out Grand Fighting Cock this year, so I ended up winning it back again.
D: You’d think that a pudding that’s been got rid of would have the decency to stay got rid of.
C: Hear hear. Well, I was batting the ghastly thing about my room, and I noticed, hallo, it’s almost exactly the size and shape of the chamber-pot. Probably been baked in one! So I picked it up and dropped it in… and then I couldn’t get it out.
D: Bally awkward.
C: Uncomfortable, I’ll tell you. So when Ruffers put a shilling on me topping a chimney, I thought “two birds with one stone” and all that.
D: So what went wrong?
C: Well, I got it up there, nice as you like, and there was a jolly to-do in the morning, because it turns out it was the Dean’s chimney, and he was having the Mayoress or somebody to tea. So the junior porter decided that the quickest way to get it down would be to shoot it off with his old hunting rifle. He loads his gun, lifts it up, there’s a fearsome crack, the pot shatters into a hundred pieces and the pudding falls right down the chimney.
D: You don’t say!
C: Would have been alright, but it hit a coal in the fireplace and the brandy caught alight. Apparently it shot out through the room just like a cannonball, and knocked somebody’s secretary into the window-box. They were looking extra-hard for the culprit after that, and Muffers mentioned I’d been trying to get rid of a pudding, and they gated me on the strength of it. Hardly fair, too – Muffers was talking about months ago, before the raffle and the carnival and the tournament – so it really shouldn’t have counted as evidence at all.
D: Dreadful luck! Well, don’t let me persuade you, but if you wanted to give the midnight mass a miss, Guffers, Quffers, Wensleydale and I are going to sneak into the library and check out some of the voluptuesques. You can come along, only you’ll have to find me a window without hinges.
C: Oh, right-o!
Exit both, pursued by bulldog.


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