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“Bouncers!” cries Senior Tutor excitedly.
“Bouncers?” comes my meek reply.
“Yes, Deputy Head Porter, I want you to have all the Porters train as bouncers. And I want you and Head Porter to lead by example and be the first to qualify as doorme… door… people?” Senior Tutor looks to me for assurance. “Door people. Can you arrange that?”
My reply to Senior Tutor is, of course “Certainly, Sir. I will attend to it immediately.”
The reply inside my head is somewhat different. I’m not sure I could verbalise it. It would be a type of unrestrained laughter that clearly demonstrates my feelings that this is the most hilarious thing I have ever heard in my life.
Whilst spending the rest of the day researching the world of professional bouncer-ing, I begin to think that it might not be such a bad idea. The required license is quite sought-after and expensive to obtain. You no doubt think, as I do, that getting training and a recognised qualification will cheer the chaps up no end. I also know The Porters and it dawns on me that it will just give them a whole new other thing to moan about.
With my proposal and costings for the training and licenses in hand, I head towards Junior Bursar’s office, to plead with him to pay for it. I haven’t got much of a pitch worked out, to be honest. I glumly wonder how I am going to sell the idea of training (mainly) elderly, grumpy old buggers to work as ‘professional security’, as the training company so proudly (and frequently) boasts. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Eeyore-like temperament of The Porters and they do a good job. But The A-Team they certainly are not.
Junior Bursar is in a jolly mood as I sit down in the chair he indicates by his desk. The surface between us is covered completely in a comical-looking pile of paperwork, which partially blocks my view of him. There are little yellow post-it notes on almost every surface. I even spot one on my chair leg. There are books and books and books everywhere, much like the other Fellows. But there is a difference between Junior Bursar’s books and everyone else’s books. At least three quarters of Junior Bursar’s books appear to be in the midst of being read. They are off their shelves and propped open in ingenious ways all around the room. Perhaps if he read fewer books he would have time to clear up some of this paperwork. But anyway.
“This looks like a very interesting idea,” Junior Bursar seems mildly delighted by the proposal. “I imagine that The Porters would be extremely pleased to gain a qualification. Make them feel more like the rest of College.”
I put to one side the spectacularly pompous terminology and muse on the idea. I don’t think The Porters will be especially pleased to be ‘more like the rest of College’.
“And the other good thing,” Junior Bursar continues, really getting a feel for the idea now, “Is that they can do a bit of moonlighting on their nights off, if they want. They can earn themselves a bit of extra money!”
The Porters working the doors of the City’s pubs and clubs? I feel this to be even more unlikely. But, then again, you never know with these chaps.
I lean slightly to the left in order to get a clear view of Junior Bursar.
“Do you want me to go ahead and book the courses, Sir?” I ask. Junior Bursar doesn’t look up from the proposal before him. He throws a cursory glance in the direction of the costs.
“Yes, absolutely, I think you should make the arrangements as soon as possible. Keep me updated!”
Well, this is an interesting turn of events. As far as I can tell, The Porters have never had any formal training at Old College before. This will be breaking new ground. And you know how Old College feels about breaking new ground. On the upside, in a few weeks time I will be a fully qualified and licensed ‘security professional’. In the case of The Fellowship deciding that I am the worst Deputy Head Porter of all time, this could come in very handy for finding alternative employment.