Monday, 26 May 2014

Deferred Anticipation

Jonathan Swift, by Charles Jervas (died 1739)....
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This apropos nothing...

I had an English teacher by the name of Fitch, DM Fitch if I recall. He was the absolute spitting image of Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels. I kid you not. It was bloody eerie. Although clearly he didn't wear the wig to work.

I'm sure he kept one at home so he could pay literary 'games'.

He was 'fussy', almost camp. A little owlish occasionally.

Like most of the masters at school, he was easily distracted. The feared and gargantuan figure of Thomas Edward Carrington ('TEC' to those who suffered alongside me) loomed over all, but if you caught even the monstrous TEC at the right moment, you could get him talking about The War so a double history lesson would pass peaceably and in relative enjoyment.

The War was always a winner. And so it proved one day with DM Fitch. And I'll never forget it.

DM, channelling his forebear JS, tended to pudgy. And so, he assured us, it was as a youth. But there Was A War On, and so the chocolate ration was limited. I can't remember to how much, a precious ounce or two per week.

His mother would return with the shopping and DM's craved square of mellifluous sweetness. It was then he would proceed to grate it into fine slivers of chocolate, curled like little brown toenails and collected into a piece of tinfoil. I am quite sure his memory failed him at this point in his anecdote, because any available tinfoil was being used to boil down into Spitfires, so it may well have been a piece of greaseproof he had embellished with the years.

He would then fold the gratings and place them carefully under the leg of his chair. And proceed to sit upon said chair to read a chapter, never less but always a full chapter, of the book he was devouring. He was obviously a bookworm as a child, evidently looking even then Swiftian and destined to become an English Master replete with tweed and leather elbows, a failed marriage to a gorgeous woman widely considered to be galaxies beyond him and now host to a Particularly Nasty Break-time Gin Habit.

Christ, if he's still alive I'm SO in court, aren't I?

Anyway. He would read his chapter and then - and only then - remove the compressed wodge of chocolate from beneath the chair leg where it had been squeezed, not unlike a diamond formed of carbon by volcanic forces, into a square of chocolate. And he would proceed to demolish it with Bunteresque greed.

"This, boys," he explained to us - utterly mystified - oiks, "is Deferred Anticipation".
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Dave Edwards said...

Well, he was wrong. It's 'deferred gratification'.

Dave Edwards said...

Or did I miss the point?

Alexander McNabb said...

No, you no missee pointee. And yes, it is consistent with deferred gratification.

Which either makes him wrong or my memory. Or maybe he was just being different.

We'll never know which, will we?

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