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Saturday March 29th  2014  Tim Candler

 

     I imagine there are those who might wish to think that as the tribe approached and then de-bussed at their homeland there'd be a cheer and maybe a song and dance or two. But it would be a grave error on my part to reward such thinking. A better understanding of those moments is to put it in the perspective of wariness, a sort of concern for the homeland, and there'd be prowling about to make certain that nothing had been altered or changed during the tribes two weeks of exile. When change, alterations, or something like a new goal post did happen, it led to inquests and general uneasiness, and some floundering about for an explanation. And of course the lack of any kind of prior-consultation with the tribe, regarding alterations, changes and additions, added a burden that required us to dismiss such things as acts of madness.  An over reaction you might think, but it's the nature of tribal bonding, and very necessary for a tribe to know its place in the tapestry, otherwise a tribe can easily become nomadic, wondering around, aimlessly pillaging village after village, without ever achieving a sense of centeredness or loyalty to something like a Queen, or a flag on a pole, or some other inheritable title. However, at the beginning of that winter season, the Incident at Bo-Peep tunnel had caused something of a distraction amongst the tribe, and Chaka was the center of that distraction, which made it important for him to set a proper example, and not be seen sniveling around a French Master or any other paid professional.  And there was a sort of horrible smugness in the face of the titular head, which I guess could have been attributed to his recent intimacy with a Silver Dawn, an experience that can radically alter an enfeeble mind's perception of it's own place in the world. But a more ominous omen for the tribe, was a sort of glare from The Headmaster, cast in Chaka's direction. And too a stare into the eyes of the six or seven year old who looked to be about five years old, revealed his sense of regret and misery for having caused so much trouble. As well in that little tribesman's expression there was a determination never again to blubber in a window seat of railway passenger carriage. Which was a sure sign of one who deserved the support and respect, and the loyalty of his tribe.  And Chaka Zulu who could well have suffered from a few genetic anomalies himself, might have sent a  noble  "good chap" in his direction, designed to absolve all sense of responsibility the young tribesman might have had for poor behavior from the tribe's titular head.

     Worth noting here, that in 1960 something, the English Speaking Peoples who inhabited the south east of England regarded heated sleeping quarters as a frivolity that led to things like Caligula and the decline of the Roman empire. More than one blanket on a bed was certain to result in some kind of infectious outbreak that had been known to cause a school matron to enter a state of anxiety, from which she might never again emerge. The expert opinion in the south east of England had also declared that the better classroom learning environment was around forty nine degrees Fahrenheit, unless a Welshman was Master in charge of teaching the English language, in which case seventy or eighty degrees Fahrenheit was the recommended classroom temperature. As the tribe walked passed the ornamental fishpond into their headquarters, the classrooms to their right, the playing field and a suggestion of sleet behind them, it was difficult for the tribe not to notice a confab around the the blaze of an electric heater in the administrative office, between The French Master, The Headmaster, the titular head of our tribe, and The Assistant Headmaster, who was also Master in charge of teaching the English language. And worth noting too, that one of the things about the Welsh, is that despite the English Speaking People having extended considerable resource and angst in ridding the British Isles of the Welsh language, it was pretty well given that in the matter of speaking the English language, the Welsh who troubled to learn it, would quickly outshine the English Speaking Peoples in that area of verbal communication that might require more than two or three English nouns, an occasional English verb and a number of English adjectives. The Welshman who taught English, had a voice that climbed mountains, did pirouettes with words that could turn a cold heart to thoughts of amber lakes in far away places where the sun never would set and where there was butter for the bread instead margarine, and you'd have your own Marmite Jar, instead of trying to be polite to someone who did have their own Marmite Jar. In the tribal dining hall, after a Latin Grace, supper was a rattle of plates, the odd stare in The Headmaster's direction, and a hushed tone between forkfuls of baked beans on toast and a rasher of bacon, washed down by tea with milk. The dessert, hot custard on a steam pudding which contained a couple of raisons, or Spotted Dick as it was affectionately called, was followed by clearing away of all cutlery and plates. Then after the tribe was dismissed to their respective bathing and sleeping quarters, the hero of Charring Cross and Ore was directed to proceed alone to The Headmaster's study.
  

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