In the run up to the release of the brand spanking new PorterGirl novel – First Lady Of The Keys – I thought it was high time we got to know the incumbents of Old College somewhat more intimately, and who better to begin with than the mighty Dean of College?
Handsome, intimidatingly brilliant and somewhat unhinged, The Dean of College is a force of nature. Little is known about The Dean’s personal life, if he indeed has one, as he takes his role very seriously indeed. Answerable only to The Master (and often, not even him), his primary objective in College is to ensure everything is done in the correct way, which is of course his way. The Dean’s area of academic excellence lies in law and he is unusual among The Fellowship in that he actually had a highly successful career out in the real world before taking the mantle of Dean at Old College. He has travelled widely and has a worldliness that is noticeably absent in many of his learned colleagues. Often unintentionally hilarious, his bombastic mindset is both terrifying and awesome to behold. He carries himself with the kind of justified arrogance one cannot help but admire and he is truly the power behind the throne at Old College. His influence reaches to the very top of The University itself and he is a man to be crossed at one’s peril.
Despite dedicating himself to a totalitarian rule of Old College, The Dean still finds time to indulge in (and often instigate) the exploits and investigations that arise from the Porters’ Lodge. His great sense of adventure means he has no qualms about covering up murders, nor even embarking upon a sham affair with Deputy Head Porter. He has limited tolerance for foolishness and insists that whiskey is the only proper beverage to be consumed after elevenses.
The Dean has always been my very favourite character of Old College. He is enormous fun to write as he really can do or say pretty much anything and get away with it. One of the original cast, he is based quite heavily on the real Dean from my time as an actual Deputy Head Porter. DHP’s admiration for The Dean comes from my own open-mouthed veneration for the larger-than-life, stentorian gentleman that would strut about College as if he owned the place. His literary namesake is quite obviously an exaggerated parody; the original possesses a very dry sense of humour (which, by his own admission, was subject to failure on occasion) and a consummate professionalism that the Old College version lacks. I am incredibly tempted to introduce you to the real Dean, but he is even more fearsome than the Old College version and if he isn’t amused, vengeance would be swift and definite. I fear nothing and no one – except the Dean of College.
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**Main photo – Old College night off! L-R The Headmistress, Head Porter, Organ Scholar, Deputy Head Porter, The Dean.**