An English In Kentucky


















Sunday March 30th  2014  Tim Candler


     Over time, a person whatever their circumstance of origin, will find themselves taken by a loneliness. It's a confluence of emotions which in the course of life upon earth will have to be confronted thousands and thousands of times. And there are some who might suggest that through varieties of what you might call acceptance, there is a  means to reduce these thousands and thousands of lonely moments. Indeed entire libraries have been devoted to the subject. Cathedrals, Mosques, Courthouses and a wide range of other truly pretentious structures erected to accepting one variety or another of acceptance, give it stature and permanence. And over time, in the course of shuffling through varieties of acceptance, a person might find themselves cleaving  toward something like a Hovercraft, or Hastings Arcade, or The Shropshire Union Canal, or Grand Larceny, or any other act of high achievement, including a Steam Locomotive, and maybe an idea such as a nuclear fusion reactor which might one day reproduce the stable plasma equilibrium of the sun, down here on earth, and thereby source the energy needed to watch television commercials and a whole kaleidoscope of other fulfillment centers, so that entirely mechanical devices might one day do the work of actually getting out of bed in the morning, so that you and I can become something like Cabbage. And I guess too, in the attempt to cleave to an acceptance, a lonely moment or two might indeed produce an idea that each and every form of  acceptance, while it once might have played it's role in our survival against enormous odds,  is in more recent times little more than a starry array of  primarily pointless activities, and tempting to think that it's as though somehow we might all of us be living in Kent.  But perhaps we might agree that the seedbed of each and every variety of acceptance, is the moment a child stands lonely to knock on something like the door of a Headmaster's study. Not an easy moment, and there's an entire population of the planet, except those who may have had the good fortune to be mislaid when newborns, who can attest to the complexities of every such moment.  But, if a tribesman begins to dismiss anything as acceptance it becomes problematic and a tribesman might just as well lay down the spear, rescue the twins from the Hyena, and commence blubbering in the window seat of a  railway carriage. Very, very important for mental health and physical agility that tribesmen are well informed by entirely unsupportable objects like belief and values, rather than be permitted to wallow in some lily livered mud-hole like the word 'acceptance.' And I guess too this insistence is an attempt amongst us people to find a more noble understanding of causality than something like fear, or starvation, or the Saber Toothed Tiger.

     Nor was the knock on the door to a Headmaster's study a novelty for Chaka. He'd had experience enough of these sort of things to anticipate something roughly along the lines of "bad business in Bo-Peep tunnel?" from The Headmaster.  Followed by a pregnancy during which Chaka might have his opportunity to broaden the scope of the headmaster's understanding of the incident, by giving birth to something like, "It was a rum business, sir."  But all school masters are prone to inconsistency, so it's just a sad fact that while waiting to enter a headmaster's study, a tribesmen can never adequately prepare for a Headmaster's opening remark. The most risky strategy is wordlessness, which if not accompanied by a suitable facial expression,  becomes what the professionals call, "dumb insolence." And at least in early 1960 something, wordlessness accompanied by improper facial expression could lead to extended periods of detention. And if you are wondering why, it was because a Headmaster considered  "dumb insolence" the most incorrigible variety of acceptance, and under no circumstances was it to be tolerated. It lead to communism, the demise of the English Speaking Peoples, which meant the end of civilization, which meant there'd just be a bunch of savages wandering around killing each other for no properly organized reason. And, as a tribesman's heart rate quickens there's a remarkable clarity of vision that produces a compression in time that permits his mind to fill with memories of a universe abundant with incorrect answers to a headmaster's opening remark.  "Running away from school unnerves white women, discourages parents and is not good for the school dog." Which might seem like a peculiar opening line from a Headmaster, but when put in the context of the distance between Kitale railway station and a boarding school in the foothills of The Masaba, and there's a Headmaster who might have missed breakfast and lunch to collect someone who might have been locked up by railway officials in the Kitale railway station ticket office, and when these things are put in a proper conjunction with the class of English Colonial, it all adds up to a truly difficult opening remark from a Headmaster for someone who might have been something like eight or nine at the time  And I can tell you, 'Stalag 17,' a William Holden flick about brave men behind barbed wire, was not the correct answer to the offense of 'unnerving white women, discouraging parents and upsetting the school dog.'  Nor were attempts at tortuous explanations with imaginative and happy endings of any use at all. They merely served as a pretext for the fulsomeness of "You're a bloody little fool."  So trust me, best plan when waiting for the word "Enter," is always some form of blank slate accompanied by a good posture, so as to give a mind its opportunity to demonstrate Cat-like agility.



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