Sunday Serial – An Extraordinary Imbroglio (1) *


Standards probe at Dog Road Institute

Reports are coming in of an extraordinary imbroglio in Arrapamatta involving the well-known academic, Arnold Egbert Stringer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Correct English for his monumental tome, Ramifications of the Intensely Abrupt: a Treatise on the Pronoun Problem, together with helpful Charts, Diagrams and Exhortations to the Linguistically Underprivileged. As Chairman of the Academic Board of the Dog Road Institute, Professor Stringer is leading the fight against the ‘vulgarisation’, as he sees it, of the courses offered by the Institute.

‘Wallet-taking and dog-napping, though no doubt worthy occupation for the Common Man, are hardly to be ranked with true intellectual pursuits such as the study of the semiotic antecedents of the iterative pronoun’, said Professor Stringer in an exclusive interview with The Daily Roar last month. The Professor has been ‘prodigiously alarmed’, to use his own words, by a further initiative of the Dog Road Institute to throw open all classes to all persons, regardless of background, and to encourage staff such as cleaners to take part in courses of their choosing free of charge. In a letter to the Governors of the Dog Road Institute, leaked to this paper, the Professor writes:

It is inordinately difficult to maintain proper order and the mandatory respect for my subject when Mrs Landbody, the cleaner, no doubt a fine woman in her way, but totally lacking in erudition or respect for the English language, is admitted to the class. My concern is exacerbated by the fact that she appears to feel she can continue her cleaning duties while listening to my perorations. I find myself unable to frame and deliver my thoughts with the required exactitude with this woman swirling a grubby mop round my feet, and, whilst I am writing on the blackboard, upending my chair on the desk and dumping thereon the waste paper bin, in which she has deposited my lecture notes.

As will be well-known to readers of our business section, rumours have been circulating for some time that Sir Harry Biggarby, Chairman of the Board of Governors, and the influential buinessman Rort K. Bugbear are forming a consortium to buy the Dog Road Institute, with the aim of making it either a tollet-racing track or a home for inebriated clergymen, or possibly a combination of the two. The Professor’s concerns are not likely to rate with either of these hard-headed businessmen. But the redoubtable A. E. Stringer can muster a powerful body of admirers and supporters. A whole generation of Arrapamatta’s best and brightest have passed through his classes, with Sir Lucretius Baboon, the eminent surgeon, counting it among his greatest academic achievements that he almost passed the Professor’s course on Antecedal Pronouns. ‘I’m damned if I won’t tackle it again one of these days!’ he chuckles. ‘Best intellectual workout a chap can have, a few sessions with the Prof!’

In the light of this determined campaign by the Professor to maintain the standards of the Institute, a sensational revelation can now be made to our readers. Early last week, a letter was received by the Board of Governors, which we now reveal to you as a Daily Roar exclusive.

to be continued next week…….


*  With thanks to Denis Kodaly for assistance with translation. This piece first appeared in Visible Ink 2007.

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