I sit quietly melting at my desk in the Porters’ Lodge. There is a little salty dampness above my top lip and I can feel a trickle of hot sweat sliding slowly down my back. I cannot remember how many times I have heard people complain that it is just too hot today.
I realise I am rather perpetuating the English stereotype of complaining about the weather, but if you have ever lived with English weather you will no doubt understand. Having just experienced a weekend that alternated at random intervals between bright sunshine and violent downpours, we are now in a thick and muggy heat wave. You can never, ever plan anything around the English weather. English weather will do just as it pleases.
Contrary to proclamations to the opposite, it seems that there are a lot of people out enjoying the climate. With no further educational endeavours until October, Old College has been taken over by The General Public. I am well versed in the dealings of The General Public and if experience has taught me anything it is that the public are rarely general. In fact, so intricately varied are their individual needs that whoever first coined the phrase should be had up for misrepresentation.
The grounds are crawling with enthralled tourists, all sporting the expressions of wonder and amazement I once proudly wore myself, not so very long ago. It is making me feel a little uneasy, to be honest. I am not happy at all about having all these strange people wandering around my College. Alright, the usual occupants can be fairly strange themselves but that’s an entirely different kind of strange.
As well as being a tourist attraction, Old College appears to have become something of a destination for global conferences. There are several organisations holding extravagant events over the coming months and Head Of Catering is on the verge of a nervous breakdown already. However, I am reliably informed that the Catering Department really excels itself during this period and I can be looking forward to some reliably sumptuous leftovers for the foreseeable future.
Along with tourists and professionals, Maintenance has welcomed a jovial team of painters and decorators to their merry band. Somehow renovations and holding events do not seem to go hand in hand. Maybe it’s just me. Head Of Maintenance has been strutting his stuff around College, obviously in his element. It seems to me that once the academics are out of the way, the real work gets done.
Speaking of academics, Old College has been notably depleted in that department. There has been some fervent activity from the depths of The Fellowship in the search for a new Bursar. It would appear that several candidates have been assembled and will undergo a harsh interviewing process (conducted, naturally, by The Master and The Dean) in the very near future. It is certainly a pivotal role within The Fellowship but quite frankly I shall be satisfied completely as long as they don’t kill anyone. It’s not a lot to ask.
I have discovered that Head Porter has recently been seeing quite a bit of his daughter. He does not seem any the more cheerful for it and has been in an absolutely foul mood these last few days. It is quite clear that this particular part of Head Porter’s life is none of my business but I wouldn’t mind having a few words with the young lady to see quite what the problem is. I hate seeing him like this.
As yet another bus-load of tourists pour in through the main gates, like great camera-wielding ants, I glance up at the elderly wooden clock on the wall. Lunchtime, and the respite it shall bring, is a mere ten minutes away. I shall sweat it out.
The door to The Lodge flies open and through it explodes Porter, his moustache in disarray.
“Ma’am,” he wheezes “You’d better come quickly…”