academia

The Un:Fairer Sex: The Final Episode

We’ve come a long way, baby…

The concluding part of this PorterGirl series is almost upon us!

Head Porter might have got the girl but there is no fairy tale ending this time around for the boys and girls of Old College.

All’s fair in love, war and academia.

But will we end up with more questions than answers?

Find out on Tuesday 26th April 2016!

Hitting The Right Notes

DHP&HP meet

I duck down behind the balustrade, just as The Dean glances up. The distinct lack of offensive outburst suggests that I was quick enough. Organ Scholar hastily motions at us all to get down.

“You guys had better hide!” he hisses. Hide? In an Organ Loft? Pah.

Head Porter spots something likely in the farthest corner and points soundlessly, yet enthusiastically.

“Oh coolio! Is that a rack of dressing up clothes?” asks Professor Duke. Organ Scholar hushes him, before sneaking a peek over the side of the balcony.

“Aha! There you are!” the voice of The Dean booms from beneath and sends tremors through the great pipes of the organ. “I’m coming up!”

“Bugger!” curses Organ Scholar. “Get over there and hide in the chorister robes. They’re brand bloody new so be careful!”

We obey our young friend and stuff ourselves assiduously amidst the flowing garments that are evidently the newly acquired adornments of the failing Choir. They look rather gaudy – bright vermillion trimmed with eye-popping golden haberdashery – but the material is wonderfully soft and surprisingly heavy. The smell of unworn fabric nestles into my nostrils and I am careful not to dirty it. The same cannot be said for my companions, however, as I notice that the Professor has bunched up a robe to use as a cushion and Head Porter appears to be itching his nose on another. I consider maybe scolding them, but as these garments are the inclination of the hideous Master’s Wife, I say not a word. Besides, the heavy footsteps of an approaching Dean can be heard ascending the stone staircase and I dare hardly breath, let alone remonstrate with my wayward companions.

Organ Scholar reclines as casually as one can when approached by The Dean. The man makes even me nervous on occasion.

“Hello there, Organ Scholar” says The Dean, attempting his most charming smile (not for the faint-hearted, I tell you). “You are… er… all alone here this evening, I take it?”

“I am, Sir.”

I don’t have the best view of the situation from my uncomfortably crouched position – certainly not helped by what I can only assume is the Professor’s foot digging into my back – but if I didn’t know better, I would say The Dean was rattled. I know The Dean well and I can detect his urgent need to pace, although up here there just isn’t the room.

“Listen here – you haven’t seen our friends from the Porters’ Lodge around here, have you? Poking about the place?”

“No, Sir” Organ Scholar replies. An Oscar-winning performance. “I haven’t seen them at all.”

“And Professor Duke?”

“Ah, well – I saw him in Old Court earlier, actually. I think he was giving a lecture.”

“Oh? Really?” The Dean’s eyebrows shoot up to meet his hairline, an act of either delight or surprise. Maybe both. “I can’t believe he is actually doing as he is told. What was the lecture about?”

“Nuts, I think,” replies Organ Scholar, thoughtfully stroking his chin. “Which was quite appropriate as the only body in attendance was a rather fat squirrel.”

I crane my neck round to look at Professor Duke who is nodding and smiling to himself.

“I had fun with that lecture,” he whispers. “The squirrel was digging it. If you hold lectures outside in the cold wind and tell no one it’s going to take place, no one shows up, can you believe. But hey. It makes my job much easier all round and round.”

The Dean continues.

“Well that’s… a start, at least. Good. And… I say, are you sure we are alone here, Organ Scholar?” The Dean shudders, as if someone has just walked over his grave. “I almost feel like we are being… watched.”

“Oh, that’s probably just the mice,” Organ Scholar replies airily, glancing over at us with only the merest shred of panic. “Or… the Chapel is haunted, you know. So it’s probably just a ghost or something.”

“Pffft!” The Dean in unimpressed, clearly. “There are no ghosts at Old College.”

“Is that true?” whispers the Professor. “I might be doubting it.”

“Apparently so,” Head Porter mumbles in reply. “They say that the College isn’t haunted at all.”

“Well, I would dispute that,” I say. “The difficulty is telling the difference between the dead and the living.”

“Was there something I can help you with, Sir?” Organ Scholar asks, somewhat keen to send The Dean on his way, I imagine. “We could have a sing-song, if you like. Go on – what’s your favourite tune?”

The Dean seems to consider the question for the briefest of moments, before waving an arm dismissively.

“I have no time for that, young man. No. I was just checking on things, that’s all. Now – if you see the Porters getting up to mischief you are to tell me immediately, do you understand?”

“Porters by their very nature are mischievious. This could keep me rather busy.”

The Dean simply returns a stare that could curdle butter, before turning on his heels and strolling defiantly back down the staircase. Once we hear the familiar sound of the huge wooden Chapel doors snapping shut, we remove ourselves from the robes.

“Well done, chap!” says Head Porter, slapping Organ Scholar on the shoulder amiably. “You handled him well.”

“He was definitely humpty about something,” I say. “I can tell when The Dean has something on his mind.”

“It’s that wicked Master, I’m telling you,” agrees the Professor. “He’s spooked The Dean.”

“What was it he said to him?” asks Head Porter.

“He told him if The Dean didn’t look for the Music Professor, he wouldn’t look for The Bursar. That’s it.”

“Why, where is The Bursar?” I hold up a hand to silence Organ Scholar.

“Believe me. You don’t want to know.”

“Hey, what’s that?” Head Porter is pointing to a rumpled piece of paper laying barely feet from us. I go over to it and bend down.

“It must’ve fallen from The Dean’s pocket,” I say. “It looks like a note.”

Only one thing to do with a note, I say…

Secret Diary Of Terry – Part Three

You see, the biggest difference between human creatures and cats is that humans are never satisfied. This is what makes the feline breed a significantly superior species. Whilst you destroy yourselves chasing ambition and greed, we furry gods recline in our smug satisfaction; beautiful, wise and eternal.

Never more did I feel this anomaly of human nature than during my explorings of my new lair, the estimable Old College. It is true that cats view the world very differently from you hairless fellows, for you only see the things allowed by your limited faculties; you see only the things that are there. We can see the things that were, the things that could have been and the things that are yet to come. My investigations of the new lair revealed not only an abundance of excellent hunting and snoozing spots, but also an air thick with the echoes of triumph and disappointment, secrets and lies and ignorance wrapped up to appear as wisdom. It seemed to me that this was a place where humans come to be better. Not better humans, sadly, just better than other humans.

The scent of Onion Flower was faint throughout the lair and I began to think that perhaps she had not been here all that recently. The stench of Green Bacon permeated completely, giving the impression that he was everywhere at once. At the places where his niff was most potent, I added my own scent with the intention of exerting a bit of authority. He is a nice chap but he needs to learn his place. It was about this time I began to feel rather worried. I could detect a hint of another feline in this territory. The marking was not strong, as if she (for the scent of a lady cat is unmistakable) did not maintain regular patrols. A fine territory such as this would require vigorous attention, perhaps she was unwilling or unable? I thought to seek her out and inform her politely of my intention to install myself and Onion Flower at the earliest opportunity.

Seeing as the scent of lady cat was so very vague, I thought it best to place my own, much more potent markings about the place so that people might be aware of my arrival. No doubt they would want to find a fitting way to welcome me and it is only fair to give them the opportunity to make preparations. I buried little piles of my waste material around and about, taking great care to spread it as far and wide as possible. I would have hated for anyone to have missed out on my announcements.

My endeavours completed, I took to higher ground to better survey my new home. I scaled the ancient stone with surprising supinity. I had prepared myself for a little crumbling here and there as I made the walls and window ledges my playground, but not a movement beneath my little paws. The fierce underpinnings of pious pomposity must reach to the very tops of its towers. From up here, the lair looks very beautiful indeed. The courtyards are laid out in neat little squares of green, framed with the delight of bursts of pinks and purples. The cloisters echoed with the sounds of a thousand footsteps, the music of long forgotten laughter and somber laments of fallen tears. My new subjects scurried from place to place with such a sense of purpose that I could not help but think that they must have already noticed my little announcements. Oh yes, this lair would work out just wonderfully for Onion Flower and I.

Up here, the smell of lady cat was much more evident. I followed it to a dear little window that had been kindly left ajar for me and slipped through, testing the air with my whiskers as I went. Inside, the small but opulent quarters seemed smothered with a polish that tickled my nose quite rudely. Almost every surface, from floor to ceiling, was adorned with a heavy dark wood. There were shiny things scattered about but they did not smell of interest to me. In fact, all I could smell at this point was her.

Her thick, velvet fur.

Her claws like polished steel.

Her aura – masquerading as fear, but actually something else… something… vicious?