In character: an interview with Patricia Stephenson

Illustration: Gabrielle Wolf
Illustration: Gabrielle Wolf
Illustration: Gabrielle Wolf

You may recognize Patricia’s name from her very popular posts on the Overhead in St Andrews Facebook page, where she has been posting colourful letters to her beloved grandson, Christopher, since December 2012. The Saint caught up with her to learn more about her past writing experience, internet fame and thoughts on world domination.

The Saint: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Patricia Stephenson: My mother was brought to bear of me in 1920 in Cockermouth. A precocious child with a proclivity for disobedience, Mother transferred me from my Anglican village school to a more Wackfordian institution following several poisoning incidents. I was, however, very happy at Our Lady Christina Magdalena’s Convent Enclosure for Girls (I have always preferred girls to boys). Later, before the war, I moved to Bournemouth, where I worked at Farnes Stepping Button Factory. After WWII, well, it all gets a bit hazy in my old age. I vaguely recall some business in the Cold War, microdots and the smell of pirozhki mingled with cordite.

TS: What is your connection to St Andrews?

PS: Tenuous.

TS: Can you share anything about your grandson, Christopher?

PS: I know that I have a grandson and that his name is Christopher and that he went to St Andrews to study. Or maybe somewhere else. I’m not really sure – he doesn’t reply to my letters. My daughter-in-law has poured poison in his ear and turned him against me.

TS: How do you feel about your popularity on the page? Was it unexpected?

PS: I’ve always been popular but mostly because I have actively cultivated a reputation for sexual looseness. Unfortunately, the appeal tends to wear off over time and as gravity takes its toll.

TS: Your posts are obviously very popular, but also sometimes quite shocking. Is your aim to entertain your readership?

PS: My aim is to get a firm grasp around the neck of my ungrateful grandson.

TS: Do you have any previous writing experience?

PS: I once wrote books for children when I worked for the newly formed Ministry of Education in Bournemouth during the war. I wrote a little pamphlet called ‘Birthday Songs for Unhappy Children:’

‘Tis your name-day, squalling one

And you shall have a dish

And on that little dishy-wish

I have placed a fish

A fishy fish for you today

The only one this year

Famine came and daddy’s dead

But have some fishy cheer.

It wasn’t published. My editor said that dispiriting songs on the nature of death and nihilistic exegesis defeated the purpose of wartime propaganda, so I spat in his cucumber sandwiches.

TS: Students often comment on your posts asking if you’re really a fellow student’s grandmother. Do you have anything to say to them?

PS: On the internet, nobody can tell whether you’re a sweet old lady or a hive mind of carnivorous spiders in an underground bunker using social media to experiment on humans and learn more of their psychological weaknesses in preparation for seizure of control of all free nation-states and the enslavement of their citizens for the greater glory of the Arach Empire, long may it reign.

TS: When can we look forward to another post?

PS: When the poor sod who graduated far too long ago and still writes this nonsense finishes his current contract and ends up back on the dole. Probably. Don’t ask me, I’m not a psychic, just a hive mind of spiders in the guise of an old woman.


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