Another Thursday, another St Mary’s fanfiction short story entry from the competition. This weeks offering is by Alison Clements.
A lovely modern twist to a great St Mary’s story. It’s very tempting to speculate on just how much trouble Max, Markham and Peterson could have got up to at Woodstock. Dr Bairstow is on good form as well.
‘Sir!’ I must be firm. Since Matthew my body is no longer the temple of perfection it once was and I doubt it will withstand public scrutiny.’
Dr Bairstow sighed. ‘Not for the first time, Dr Maxwell, I believe you are over-estimating the assignment’s requirements. As I understand it, nudity was entirely optional. Besides, I hardly think the declothing incident participants were universally blessed with bodily perfection.’
‘But really’, I continued, ‘Woodstock? It’s barely history, and everyone knows they got naked and frolicked for days high on dubious chemicals, flower power and free love. What else could Thirsk possibly need to know?’
He looked at me over the top of his glasses. ‘You are there to gauge what proportion of the crowd were there due to the rumour that Bob Dylan might appear. Besides, we are deficient in both cashflow and goodwill with Thirsk and – perhaps with misguided optimism – I feel that this simple assignment should help to address both.’
‘Returning to the free love point, sir. Peterson and Markham are fine-looking specimens, but it’s way more than my job’s worth to court that sort of trouble from Helen and Hunter’. ‘Or Leon’, I added after a brief pause. ‘But mostly Helen. Don’t make me do this, sir.’
‘Let me repeat myself Dr Maxwell. Joining. In. Is. Not. Compulsory.’
I had still not given up on squirming out of this. ‘Does the 20th century really deserve to be exposed (and I mean that in both senses of the word) to Markham and Peterson in all their glory? Because if you think I’m going to be able to stop them getting naked then you are sadly overestimating my superpowers.’
‘I have every confidence in you Dr Maxwell, and if not then I suppose it will save Mrs Enderby some costume work. Although,’ he paused thoughtfully, ‘I know she was very much looking forward to making you a tie-dyed kaftan. Or perhaps a miniskirt?’
I looked at him. There was no hint of humour on his raptor-like features.
‘Just one more thing, sir.’ I had cunningly saved my best argument until last. ‘Surely our British accents will attract unwelcome attention as soon as we speak?’
His face adopted the sort of expression usually seen on a fox which has just discovered an unlatched henhouse. ‘I cannot account for any attention that your inimitable style might attract, of course. But the American borders did not close until well into this century. You will be seen as exotic, and perhaps a little eccentric …’
(‘Absolutely no ‘perhaps’ about it’, I thought …)
‘… but your accents will not in themselves attract undue attention. Stay out of the mud, and enjoy the music. I understand Joan Baez was at her divine best.’
I turned to leave, and passing an amused-looking Mrs Partridge I could have sworn I heard the faintest hum of Blowin’ in the Wind emanating from somewhere. But whether it came from Mrs Partridge or Dr Bairstow himself I couldn’t say.