Brownlegg at Large: Christmas 2000 

15 December 2000 tbs.pm/3073

Brownlegg says: The world was a simpler place when I was a schoolboy. Spencer-Wells, the butler, told me a ripping yarn about school from his “Boy’s Own Book Of Broadcasting” which he received as a Christmas present. It’s a story of wheezes, jests and franchise renewal called “Trouble at Dunbroadcasting Hall”…are you sitting comfortably? No? Splendid.

The school bell rang for Morning Assembly at Big House. The prefects of the Infernal Television Authority took their place in the procession behind the Headmaster, Lord Dull of Ditchwater, and sat down in the first row, with all the oiks and ticks behind. After a few rousing choruses of the school song “Life Is A Beautiful Book”, Lord Dull stood at the lectern to make his announcements.

“Good Morning Boys” Lord Dull said. “Good Morning, Sir” came the slightly polyphonus reply.

“It has come to my attention that some of the prefects – and they know who they are – are going over the time allowed for advertisements in each clock hour. This must stop immediately. If anyone does this in future, they will be given detention and their franchise suspended. I want to see the following boys in my study after assembly: Reconfusion-London Minor, Grandman, Thomas, Gradient, Watts-Williams and Horlicks. This is in connection with a number of incidents reported to me by Mr. Fraser. Be there in a trice. Wear tight trousers. That is all. Dismiss”.

A frisson ran through the assembly, barking and wagging its tail. The boys filed out, got in a horse-drawn trice and, with a hubbub of chatter in the air, and elsewhere, drove to the headmaster’s study with the Big Four followed closely by the two everyone called The Taffy Twins. “Oh, no”, said Sid Grandman, “I hope he doesn’t find out that I haven’t been saying my nightly prayers, or playing the National Anthem. Sheffield sausage manufacturers have already cancelled their sessions with me after hours”. Huw Thomas’s reply was sharp, witty and cosmopolitan, “Well Sid, old chap, it could only improve the evenings spent with you!”

At this point, Spencer-Wells, I suggest you write in a part for Gloria, if you want to continue your career. As I was saying to Gloria last week, I said, Glo, please, an ill-wind could do you good, you don’t know unless you try it, which is true then as it was now, I find.

At this point, the door burst open to reveal the formidable figure of Dr. Charles Dull, alias Lord Dull of Ditchwater. He blinked myopically through his horn-rimmed glasses at the assembled boys, and said in a booming voice, “Well, if it isn’t the same little band of malevolent miscreants I see every morning of the week. Except weekends for some of you, and weekdays for others, something I intend to put a stop to. Stop fidgeting.

“Who’s first? Don’t bother answering, I will see Reconfusion-London Minor right now. The rest of you wait quietly out there”. The unfortunate boy followed him inside, and the door closed behind with a clang.

“Right Reconfusion-Minor. When you stole a 12/- postal order from Huw Thomas of Form ABC, you didn’t have any conception of what I had planned. You’ve now to got share EVERYTHING YOU GET FROM NOW ON! And your family name is now Thomas-Reconfusion-Minor, unless your folks think of something better. Now get out of my sight! And send Thomas in next!”

Nervously Thomas entered the Head’s study. Lord Dull told him of his decision – and Thomas seemed pleased, going as far as to say “Capital idea, Sir!”

“Poor Sid Grandman was told he had to give up half his desk to a new boy coming from Yorkshire, and half his study. Little Lew Gradient had to move his desk from the front of big school to the middle.

But these were minor issues compared to the fight between the Taffy Twins!

Spencer-Wells, I’ve still not spotted a role for Gloria here. Plus, you appear to be insulting people, though I can’t work out who. If I do, I’ll cut your ration of horsemeat by a further 6d a week and then you’ll be sorry.

“Now, you two…I know your father well, Thomas Watts-Williams, and also yours, Horlicks. Fighting in the playground is no way to resolve your problems. We’ve tried moving you around, but you always seem to occupy the same place, on principle. So one of you has to go at the end of term.”

“But, sir”, interjected Watts-Williams, “Horlicks started it – he said that I don’t talk enough Welsh”

Horlicks replied, “Sir, he doesn’t, and I always do, y dydd, yr wythnos” (today and every week). Lord Dull then totally lost his temper, and literally spat out his decision, which made a mess that the boys would be cleaning up for years to come.

“Watts-Williams, I have no choice but to expel you, with effect from July. I will write to your parents. I don’t know for certain which one of you is right, but I feel, given the opportunity, Horlicks would show the most potential for being correct. Dismiss”

Outside, Watts-Williams decided to run away from school before Easter, saying to Horlicks, “I’ve had enough – you can have it all now”. Horlicks panicked, saying “well, what am I to do with all the unfinished school projects?”

“That’s your problem, isn’t it?” said Watts-Williams, determined to be as awkward as before…

To be continued… if the Captain is sober enough to write anymore. Gloria Gaumont is currently appearing in J Awful Rank’s “A Picture of Dorian from Birds of a Feather” at your nearest Odeon.

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