A hearty full-English has revived Head Porter and I considerably. The healing powers of bacon have never let me down yet. The task that lays ahead fails to fill me with much joy, though. Head Porter, being Head Porter, has graciously delegated the ‘missing key’ task to my good self. For the forseeable future I will be elbow deep in keys, keys, keys. Again. To strengthen my resolve, I make myself the finest cup of tea I can muster and start stock-piling biscuits. It is the only way I will ever get through this.
By mid-morning I start to think that I am actually going to die of old age before this task is completed. For the briefest of moments I rather feel that being murdered by The Fellowship might be a blessed relief. I am considering taking a break to replenish my tea and biscuit stock, when Junior Bursar creeps into The Lodge. I don’t notice him until he is right behind me – I swear he must have been a ninja in a previous life.
“Good morning, Sir” I greet him, trying not to look startled. “You are very… stealthy… this morning.”
Junior Bursar laughs
“Prehaps it is less that I am stealthy and more that you are unperceptive, Deputy Head Porter?” Hmm. He might have a point, here. My mind does tend to meander somewhat when faced with all these keys. “Anyway, what are you up to? Are you busy?”
“I’m just auditing the keys, you know, making sure they’re all present and correct.”
“That is quite a lengthly endeavour,” replies Junior Bursar, sounding surprisingly sympathetic.
“It is rather, Sir, yes.”
“And pretty dull too, I suspect?”
“I won’t lie to you Sir, I’ve had more fun at the dentist.”
“My dentist is quite amusing, actually” says Junior Bursar conversationally “He has all these little anecdotes about a young hygenist who used to work for him. Quite unbelievable, some of them.”
“Really Sir?” I reply, not quite sure where this is going “You must give me his number. I’d like an anecdotal dentist.”
“You like parties, don’t you Deputy Head Porter?”
“I do, Sir” I reply cautiously. Junior Bursar does have this knack of suddenly springing conversations you have no desire to partake in, without you even knowing. Until it is too late, of course. He is also smiling, which is never a good sign.
“I thought as much. You know that I am retiring very soon, don’t you Deputy Head Porter?”
“I do, Sir. A sad thing indeed.”
“Indeed. Well, I would like you to help with the arrangements for my retirement party!”
This is the last thing I was expecting, to be honest. Events of this nature are ordinarily handled by Head Of Catering and his department. Porters don’t generally do parties. Except, apparently now they do. Junior Bursar seems quite adamant on the matter.
I do not feel that I can say no, in fact, I know that I cannot say no. You don’t say no to Junior Bursar. So my agreement is met with an even broader smile. I do worry that the man’s face might crack open with all this unusual activity.
“Marvellous, Deputy Head Porter!” He exclaims. “Perhaps you would join me in my rooms to go over a few initial details?”
“What, now?” I ask.
“Head Porter was very clear that the key audit was a matter of priority, Sir.”
“Why? They’re not going anywhere, are they?” They might! “Leave this until later, Deputy Head Porter. I want to discuss my party. This is a matter that must be attended to immediately!.”
And so, helplessly, I trot after Junior Bursar, who is inexplicably determined to employ me as a party planner. Still. It’s got to be more fun than messing about with keys.