The beginning of the new academic year is imminent and this, in itself, should be enough of a headache for any Deputy Head Porter. As it happens, this is merely the least of my worries. Our failed attempt to steal back the Lord Layton portrait from Hawkins College revealed the somewhat uncomfortable information that our own, dear Head Porter is somehow involved in the disappearance of the painting.
After a shaky start, I have become very fond of Head Porter and shunned the warnings of others about his involvement in various nefarious deeds at Old College. I reasoned that his involvement with The Vicious Circle and the events from so long ago was outside of his control, as a humble College servant simply enslaved to the will of The Fellowship. And he saved my life. And now this.
Aside from the still-missing Lord Layton, The Dean has given me another good cause for concern. The business with the new Bursar has obviously caused some ructions among The Fellowship. The Master has shoe-horned an old chum of his into the role, much to the displeasure of The Dean. As we all know by now, when The Dean is displeased he expresses himself quite effectively. The upshot of this is that The Dean has been offered, no doubt purely coincidentally, a new role as The Master of Wastell College. But as one now well educated in the workings of University life, there are no coincidences. No, in place of coincidence are dark, Machiavellian machinations designed to achieve the aims of those who hold the most power. By any means necessary.
It is a clever move by The Master, playing up to the swollen ego and general megalomania of The Dean. With the prospect of becoming The Master of the richest and most powerful College in The City, one would think that The Dean had truly found his place in the highest echelons of academic society. But he does not seem as enamored by the prospect as I might have thought. Despite his arrogance and questionable people skills, he is an incredibly intelligent man and if I can see the reasons behind this appointment, he must realise them in glorious technicolour. Someone wants him out of the way.
Against my better nature, I begged him to reconsider. I cannot imagine Old College without The Dean and, besides, if he became The Master of Wastell College, he wouldn’t be The Dean any more. And that would be just far too confusing for all concerned. Unusually for him, The Dean seems ambivalent about the matter. Right now, he is beyond furious about the Lord Layton and is after Head Porter’s blood. Quite literally, I fear.
Sometimes I wonder what the devil I am doing here at Old College. This time last year I had been in post for around a week and it was clear then that I was not a welcome addition. The year before that, I was the happiest I had ever been, walking my beat in a place that seems so far away now as to be unreachable. But, surely, if you want something enough, if you stretch far enough… maybe my fingertips could just brush against it once again and I could claw back the life, career and prospects I once had.
For what am I now? Complicit in allowing the escape of a murderer, let alone the implications of casually casting a blind eye over the crimes committed in my midst. Head Porter has betrayed the College and The Dean seems to be looking elsewhere. To be quite frank, it is only the new range of giant cookies so wonderfully sourced by Head Of Catering that is keeping me within the walls of this anachronistic institution.
Then again, I have made history as the first female Deputy Head Porter in the six hundred year history of Old College and I am easily swayed by free food, so maybe I should just count my blessings and get on with it. Getting on with it is something I have done very well in the past and is exactly what I shall do now. I have arranged to meet both The Dean and Head Porter in the Armingford Room so that my superior might be confronted about his involvement in the plot to steal the Lord Layton.
Onwards, Deputy Head Porter. Onwards.