An English In Kentucky


















Thursday March 27th  2014  Tim Candler


     The word "SPURS" in white paint on the brickwork of Butcher's Lane Bridge, had to my mind been placed there by a person who intended to lend courage and support to the driver of a diesel electric heading toward Kent.  And though it might not be something people give much consideration to, there were two possible ways to write the word "SPURS" on side of Butcher's Lane Bridge. You could get yourself a ladder, place it on the railway line, then climb up it and set to work with a paint brush. Or you could stand on the top of Butcher's Lane Bridge, lean over the parapet and then proceed with the lettering. The word "SPURS," from the perspective of those viewing it from the railway line was written upside down, which suggested that of the options available to accomplish his task, the author had leaned over the bridge's parapet. And here a charitable mind might have concluded that the author had erred on the side of haste, rather than possessed by some form of interesting mental anomaly. Worth noting too, there was at least one tribesman who had no idea that "SPURS" referred to Tottenham Hotspur, which was a London football team that had been founded as recently as 1882.  And you have to think that maybe The Headmaster's affinity was with the Butcher's Lane Bridge, rather than Three Oaks and Guestling Halt, because when he saw the word "SPURS" on the side of Butcher's Lane Bridge, there were some cruel words spoken by The Headmaster, some of them a little mysterious. It was as though "SPURS" had touched a very raw spot in The Headmaster. He made a few comments about "Youth," about  "Teddy Boys," and about "Barbarians." He might even have had a word or two to say about "Attila the Hun." And he then suggested it might be time for the English Speaking Peoples to give consideration to National Service, what some call The Draft, and he went on to say that it was certainly time to revisit the idea of something like an all out invasion of somewhere like Europe, as the only solution to someone writing "SPURS" upside down on the Butcher's Lane Bridge. The more astute tribesmen could tell that the French Master was made a little liverish by the Headmaster's speech, because he looked as though he might have needed a cigarette and maybe a stiff drink.  But the titular head of our tribe heartily agreed with everything the Headmaster said and added a a remark or two of his own, about hanging being too good an end for anyone who might write "SPURS" on the brickwork of a bridge, or anywhere else for that matter. And while the titular head of our tribe offered his contribution to the discussion, he was looking at Chaka Zulu, in a very deliberate manner.  So, given the events in Bo-Peep Tunnel earlier that day, it was somewhat discouraging for the tribe, and particularly for Chaka Zulu, to hear The Headmaster  give the titular head a, "Bang On."

    You may be wondering how anyone who might have needed a handkerchief  following some event or other that may have occurred in Bo-Peep tunnel, would be in a position to make any contribution to a Headmaster's discourse on the future of the English Speaking Peoples.  And you might have been wondering, after all the fuss the titular head of our clan had made during the course of the past hour or so, why there was no rushing him off to hospital, or at the very least handing him over to womenfolk. So you perhaps need to understand two things. The Headmaster had no patience with any sort moaning or groaning over something as trivial as a physical discomfort, unless it produced a flow of  blood that might require a tourniquet. Nor was he able to eat eggs. Somewhere in his past he'd spent time in North Africa where he'd assisted the resupplying of General Wavell's retreat from Benghazi, and in the course of the resupply he had been personally shelled by Field Marshal Rommel. During the shelling The Headmaster dove for shelter under a crate of eggs, and when Field Marshal Rommel decided to call a halt to shelling The Headmaster, The Headmaster was not only covered in broken eggs, he was also covered in the blood and brains of some 'damned fine chaps.' And the other thing you should know, one of the traditions The Headmaster believed useful, was that at the beginning of term, the titular head of our tribe would sit up front, in the left side passenger seat of  the Silver Dawn, for a ride with The Headmaster from the Three Oaks and Guestling Halt to the tribe's homeland. A truly sniveling and wholly obvious act on the part of The Headmaster.  And while our titular head was something less than a 'damned fine chap,' and despite having been dropped once or twice as an infant, before his skull had had its chance to toughen up so it might protect his few remaining brain cells, our titular head was nonetheless aware of The Headmaster's tradition, and he saw the ride to our homeland in a Silver Dawn as his chance to expand upon his own warped version of events in Bo-Peep Tunnel. The French Master of course bussed with the tribe, which meant that for a good ten minutes our titular head had total command of  propaganda, and this left Chaka Zulu at a huge disadvantage in any war of words. Over time, of course, a tribesman acquires a little experience of these sorts of things, but if he was something like eleven years old and still held fast to a few irrational opinions, he might pause a while to adjust a shoelace while his tribe clambered aboard a Bedford SB. A kind of craven and transparent activity you might think, but sometimes for no good reason a tribesman finds himself attempting to arrange matters so that he might be forced to sit next to a French Master in charge of a fifteen minute bus ride, that could sometimes extend to twenty five minutes following errors of navigation or agricultural activity or some other impasse with more regular users of Butcher's Lane.



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