I Told You Nuns Were Bad

“The time has come for the katana,” whispers the Professor, reaching within the folds of his nun’s habit.

“No!” I hiss back. “Let’s trying being nuns first. If that fails, we’ll move on to the swords.”

Not a phrase I use often.

“Rats and a Heifer! If you insist, I suppose. Still, I’m quite in the mood to be done nunning. I’d much prefer a sword fight, the sudden.”

The fast approaching footsteps echo sharply on the stone floor, sending little gasps of sound bouncing all the way up to the elegantly arched ceilings. Professor Duke and I adopt the very best nun poses we can muster and await our new friend, benign smiles masking a fair amount of uncertainty.

The door to the vestry creeps open and a bowler hatted head pokes itself cautiously through the gap. It can only be a Porter.

“Goodness, he’s uglier than he has a right to be,” remarks the Professor.

“Hmm! His face looks like a ferret licking a wasp.” Time to channel my inner nun. I turn to face the Porter and smile my sweetest smile. “Good morning to you, child. We are Sisters from the Sisters Of The Nighttime Order. You might not have heard of us as we are quite secret – but I can assure you that we are well known to people of certain standing within the University.”

The Porter seems to relax just slightly and comes through the door to join us. He looks us up and down and it is clear he is still wary. I can’t say I blame him.

“Yes… I am sure I have heard of you, in fact,” the Porter replies, nodding adamantly. “I have the ear of many of the higher ranking persons of the collegiate, you know. But the thing is, we have had a report of a nun waving about a Samurai sword in Great Court. You two ladies wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

The Professor shoots a crafty wink in my direction. It appears that he has this covered.

“Oh, it couldn’t be us, we’re too weak for that sort of thing. I’m sure it was an epic nun warrior. A beast, even.”

Not quite the eloquent explanation guaranteed to ensure our escape I was expecting, but still. The Porter doesn’t seem entirely convinced, either. He tilts his head and scratches his chin, narrowing his eyes as rusty gears in his brain creak into life.

“Now then… I don’t think you two are nuns,” he says slowly but with surprising authority. “In fact, you aren’t even women, are you?”


“I don’t know what your game is, fellas, but you can explain it all to the police…”

The Porter fumbles in his pocket for his phone and I turn to the Professor. I don’t mind admitting I am feeling somewhat concerned about current events.

“Professor, I think we should just knock him out and make a run for it.” Another phrase I don’t use often, but admittedly probably more frequently than the previous one. 

“Oh goody,” he replies, nodding. “Let me fetch him out!”

I have no say in the matter as Professor Duke launches himself at the unsuspecting Porter, landing an impressive fist on his cheek. The Porter looks perplexed for the briefest of moments, before tumbling awkwardly to the floor. There is a mournful groan from the resulting pile upon the ground and he reaches a tentative hand to his face.

“Must go now!” exclaims the Professor. “Run and double-run!”

Leaping over the prone Porter, we hitch up our habits and make a dash for it, out of the vestry, through the chapel and out the huge wooden doors. I stop briefly to lock them behind us – I have no idea way, it seems unusually cruel, don’t you think? – before discarding the chapel keys into a conveniently placed  bush.

We exit the grounds of Hawkins College through the little side gate that leads out onto Prince’s Street and sprint along the elderly cobbles towards our very own Old College. We have completed the marvellous plan with quite some aplomb but I rather regret the vicious assault on the Porter. Of course, returning to Old College presents problems of its own. No doubt The Dean, Headmistress and The Master’s Wife will be soon recovering from their unexpected slumbers and wanting explanations.

Except The Dean. He will probably be wanting some form of retribution. And likely blood.

It’s A Knockout

Now, as much as I would dearly love to see The Master’s Wife put firmly in her place by Headmistress, I fear she may be put there rather too firmly and even the students do not routinely brawl in College grounds. Something must be done.

The atmosphere is but butter to a knife as the stand-off between Head Porter’s admirers intensifies. The Master’s Wife dabs daintily at her bloodied nose with one of the sheer scarves that could laughingly be called her outfit. I am an open-minded woman but even I cannot accept that two scarves suffice as attire for a public event. She was pushing it at three, quite frankly.

“You stupid woman,” wails The Master’s Wife “Have you any idea how much this nose cost?!”

“Listen, I think we all need to calm down a bit,” I say, stepping between the bellicose pair. The Dean leans over to whisper in my ear.

“Actually, Deputy Head Porter, maybe we should let this one play out,” he murmurs. “Headmistress has got a cracking right hook. This might be interesting.”

“Check this out,” Professor Duke steps in, brandishing three large glasses filled with something very unlikely looking. “Let’s all have a drink to calm the nerves. And if you all still feel like rioting after this, then I’ll join in. Just because.”

“Great idea!” The Dean claps his hands and reaches for one of the glasses, draining the contents with great enthusiasm.

The Professor forces the remaining glasses into the hands of the warring women and smiles encouragingly.

“You won’t regret this, I’m sure. This Professor’s favorite drink, it is.”

Headmistress snatches up her drink and downs it in one. Head Porter glances at her, somewhat impressed. He has been notably reticent in these current events which – considering they revolve entirely around him – seems like very poor form to me. But it is plain to see that the wretched fellow is absolutely terrified and I cannot say I blame him, especially given the bone-crunching prowess of his lady love.

The violent proceedings are momentarily adjourned whilst the protagonists imbibe but I cannot help but worry about what might happen next. Emboldened by alcohol, surely matters can only get worse. Probably fairly quickly, in my experience. I turn to the Professor.

“Now what?” I ask.

“Oh, it gets great from here.”

I am unconvinced but within a second or two, things have taken a rather unexpected turn. And when I say things, I mean The Dean, Headmistress and The Master’s Wife. The latter hits the floor first, no doubt already diminished by her battered nose. Headmistress is the next to succumb but falls rather elegantly into the arms of Head Porter, who crumples gently with her to the floor. All eyes are now on The Dean.

“What in buggery is going on?!” he fumes, looking about himself, increasingly confused. “It looks like…” he begins to splutter and grasps at his throat. “Bugger! Poisoned..! By crikey..!”

“Poisoned by me, actually” the Professor replies. “But the effect is much the same.”

The Dean at last capitulates to the effects of the Professor’s drink and falls onto the rug like an angry sack of potatoes. Only Professor Duke, Organ Scholar, Head Porter and myself remain upright.

“Now… what the bloody hell just happened there?” Organ Scholar looks at his own drink warily.

“Well, here’s the thing,” replies the Professor, admiring his handiwork with a contented grin. “I only wanted to poison Mr. Dean, because he had to get out of the way and such. But then the ladies started fighting and I thought, ‘Why not poison them, too?’ It was great fun, and we have things to do.”

“I admire your dedication to the cause, Professor,” I say, experimentally prodding the prone Dean with my foot. “But what are we going to do with these chaps?”

“Let’s lock them up here in my rooms. They’ll be out for a bit, bits, and little bits yet.” The Professor’s reply does little to reassure me.

Well, the witching hour is long since passed and we have three unconscious persons scattered about Professor Duke’s floor, one of whom is bleeding messily from the nose. Somehow I feel this does not bode well for what is yet to come, but hey ho. In for a penny, and all that.

Cat Fight

Time was when many of the parties I attended featured a bout of fisticuffs of some description. People may say that this is a sign of a mis-spent youth; I beg to differ. Partying and fighting is a very apt way to spend one’s youth, as such things are most calumnious when carried into proper adulthood.  One needs to get that sort of thing out of the way early on. However, something tells me an imminent return to such times is upon us.

Professor Duke opens the door to reveal the mystery person who has been taking liberties with his doorbell. It is none other than The Master’s Wife, who at least seems to be entering into the spirit of things; she is wearing a costume. I say ‘wearing’ – this is a generous term for the adornment of three sheer scarves draped artfully across her body and the type of shoes my mother warned me about. Whatever she has come as is clearly a character that is very short on clothing.

“Good evening, daaarrrrlings!”

“Bloody hell,” Organ Scholar gasps. “Who invited her? And what… what is she… I mean… is that a costume?”

“Avert your eyes, Organ Scholar,” I reply, taking a large mouthful of unusual beverage. “This is no sight for a young gentleman.”

“Oh, just you, dadblameit,” sighs the Professor. “I thought it might’ve been a ghoul or something rather terrifyingly interesting. The Professor would tell you to come in, but you weren’t invited, see. And you aren’t really wearing anything of note, double-see.”

“But the dear Head Porter is here, isn’t that right?” She replies, her perfect frozen features managing a hint of a smirk. “And I cannot believe he would want to be at such an event unaccompanied by a lady.”

“Well maybe he’s got…a lady!” Professor Duke flaps his habit viciously in an attempt to scare her off. “But here’s the thing, I don’t think you’re a lady. Ladies don’t wear nothing, they wear something. Plus, we’re stock filled with ladies. Too many ladies. Ladies coming out of the rat holes—as they say.”

“Oh, but surely, my dear sweet Professor, this eclectic ensemble proves that I am very much all woman…”

She leans in close to him, her breath on his neck as the Professor very nearly cartwheels backwards in an attempt to avoid her advances. It’s no good. She is determined to come in.

Across the room, Head Porter’s face has adopted a similar shade to that of his milkman costume. His conversational companions have not yet noted the new arrival and he appears to be plotting an escape route. But she has him in her sights. And it seems that there can be no escape from The Master’s Wife.

She stalks across the room towards where Head Porter cowers like a hunted animal, flanked by Headmistress and The Dean. How she can even walk in those shoes is something of a mystery but that is the least of my worries as I place my drink on the sideboard and hurry after her. I motion to the Professor to join me, which he does, albeit reluctantly.

To my great surprise, Head Mistress doesn’t bat an eyelid at the half-naked harridan but instead scrutinises the Professor and I with great interest. A flicker of recognition creeps with a smile across her face.

“Now, aren’t you two the waiters from the French restaurant?” She asks, with a wink.

“We could be, I’m not sure, though,” replies the Professor. “This Professor usually gets mistaken for lots of people, just because. Plus, I hear being a Professor, and a Deputy Head Porter, pays way better than waiting tables, don’t you know.”

Headmistress throws back her head and releases a laugh so filthy you could grow cress in it. She is an intelligent woman and I rather wondered if she had clocked our ruse when she saw us on the River. The game, as they say, seems to be very much up.

“Oh, I think it is dreadfully sweet of you,” she says. “Looking out for your friend like that. But I assure you, Head Porter needs no protecting from me. My intentions are mostly honourable.”

“Actually,” I say “It was more of case of protecting you from…”

“This chitter-chatter is boring me dreadfully,” The Master’s Wife snaps suddenly. “And men dressed as nuns are frightfully offensive to me…”

“Hey!” I am most put out by this remark. But she is in no mood to discuss the matter and, ignoring me, turns to Headmistress.

“I thank you for keeping my Head Porter warm for me but surely you can see that he now has no further need of your company.”

Headmistress narrows her eyes and shoots The Master’s Wife quite the most fearsome and diabolical look I have ever witnessed. Which is quite something when you consider how well I know The Dean. And speak of the devil, he joins the fray with aplomb.

“Madame, The Master’s Wife you may very well be but I can tell you we don’t like this sort of thing at our parties,” The Dean declares. “Do you not think it most unseemly to continue with this carry-on?”

Now, ignoring me is one thing. People do it all the time. But ignoring The Dean can only ever end badly. The Master’s Wife remains engaged only with Headmistress.

“I shall ask you again to step aside, lady, if that is what you are.”

“I think not,” retorts Headmistress, chin jutting defiantly. “Who even are you? Ridiculous creature.”

The Master’s Wife does not take too kindly to this rebuff and shrieks, launching her fuchsia talons towards the truculent face of Headmistress. The whole thing happens in such a flash that I have barely time to move but Headmistress is quicker. Deftly catching the arm of her assailant, she twists the wrist backwards with her left hand whilst maintaining momentum with her right, which lands as a furiously balled fist right onto the dainty nose of The Master’s Wife.

The room fills with horrified gasps as an explosion of crimson erupts in spectacular fashion, great thick globules finding their way to the floor.

“My rug is now suitably ruined, the sudden,” mutters the Professor, sadly. “I knew I should’ve tackled her the moment she pushed past me. Maybe I would’ve broken one of her bones. Cool.”

“Now, now ladies,” splutters The Dean, evidently taken aback by this sudden and unexpected violence. “Let’s not make a scene.”

“Quite right,” replies Headmistress. “I say we take this outside. Right now.”