The Master

Lego PorterGirl!

Nothing makes one feel immortal quite like being represented in Lego. A mysterious PorterGirl enthusiast – known to me only by the handle of found_street_art on Instagram – has taken the considerable time and effort to render the entire Old College cast in the form of the famous little blocks, with the intention of pitching it to Lego itself. I feel that our beloved Porters and friends are not yet the global sensation usually associated with such things, but nonetheless I am hugely flattered, not to mention delighted to now be in possession of these cheerful fellows. This came to be in a moving exchange outside Kings Cross Station – my preferred location for meeting random persons from the internet.

And I was not to be disappointed.

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Our Porters’ Lodge heroes are resplendent, I’m sure you will agree! Tea cups in hand, we have Deputy Head Porter, Head Porter (with his mobile phone, à la Sinister Dexter) and the extravagantly moustached Porter.

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The Dean, of course, is so important that he needs two figures. Here we find him in all his academic glory and also in his much-loved Zorro costume.

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Our favourite detectives are glorious in Lego form. DCI Thompson is scarily true to life and DS Kirby looks suitably ravishing and is no doubt on the verge of seducing Porter.

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The Master (and The Master’s Cat, no less) looks very dapper and Bursar Professor Sinistrov is ready with his poison.

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Even the periphery characters are not left out – Head of Housekeeping, Head of Maintenance, Professor K (departed) and Hawkins Head Porter all get the Lego treatment too!

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And here I have recreated the dramatic scene from The Vanishing Lord, where DCI Thompson arrests The Dean. As you can see, all involved seem absolutely delighted about the matter.

I am informed that plans for a Lego Porters’ Lodge are well underway and I look forward with great anticipation to trying out new storylines in 3 magnificent dimensions from here on in.

An Encounter With The Master

The rabble that increases steadily behind me from The Great Chapel at once becomes distant and dim when in close proximity to The Master. We are stopped dead in our tracks, faced as we are with his formidable countenance. His steady frame is not bowed by his many accumulated years and the striking elegance of his youth still clings with grim determination to a finely chiselled skull. Exuding a stately air of aristocratic menace, The Master offers us the thinest of smiles.

“My, my, my…” His voice is like molten glass. “Wherever there is a commotion there can be found my dear, darling Porters. Why do you suppose that is so?”

Head Porter glances across wildly but I can offer only a shrug. As the seconds pass it becomes painfully evident that he isn’t going to say anything at all, so it falls to me to tackle the response.

“We were offering our support to the College Choir, Sir,” I reply, dry-lipped. “It seems that your Wife has completed a Herculean task with the jolly chaps and they could be in with a good chance of winning.”

A rictus grin spreads across The Master’s face and he seems to enjoy the moment.

“I rather fear that Wastell may have bested us, however.”

“Haha, that’s dadblamery, don’t you know!” exclaims Professor Duke, somewhat unexpectedly. “I think we won, just because. After all, I can’t see us losing, and if I can’t see us losing, I don’t think we can lose. It’s that sort of thing which makes the world turn, see.”

The Master turns to the Professor and addresses him as if he had only just spotted him.

“Professor Duke! What a surprise. I must say, it delights my cold, dead heart to see a member of The Fellowship so keenly supporting College pursuits.”

Wait – what was that about his heart?

“Cold, dead heart? That’s cool, I have one, too,” the Professor is charm personified and he might just get us out of this unscathed. “But, yes, this is a truth: The Professor loves to support the College in every way possible. Why wouldn’t I, of course? After all, I do work here a bit, bits, and little bits. I’ll even be down on the river soon, cheering on the rowing beasts. Yo.”

“Aha yes – The Dean did mention that you were rather proficient on the River.”

There is an ominous silence that is more uncomfortable than the itchy robes of Hawkins College Choir.

“Anyway!” says Head Porter, suddenly. His voice is a good octave higher than usual. “We’ve seen them do their bit so we must get back to the Lodge and get on with… everything.”

“Actually, Head Porter, I was hoping we might converse briefly. Or… at length.” The Master barely noticeably flexes a fist. “Whichever suits the need.”

Head Porter casts me a look that says please don’t leave me. But he soon regroups his senses and nods in deference, touching the brim of his hat respectfully.

“As you say, Sir.”

The Professor whispers to me –

“We should definitely not abandon our post, double-see.”

“I think you two would be wise to return to your daily activities, whatever they may be.” He must have the hearing of a bat. “No doubt I shall be seeing you both again before so very long.”

I deem it prudent to take the path of least resistance and the Professor seems to agree with me. I give Head Porter what I hope is a sympathetic look before we turn on our heels and head back to Old College.

The excitement of the Choir Competition briefly gave me something of a second wind, but now the effects of all-night shenanigans are taking hold quite firmly. But it is a pleasant afternoon and Professor Duke is in a conversational humour so I try to remain as perky as possible.

“Awesome river skills, huh? That’s a thing. I think I should be proud about that, you know. But what did he mean?”

“I’m not sure, Professor,” I reply, stifling a little yawn. “Maybe he meant that time we saw him and The Dean on the riverbank when we were punting. But why would The Dean talk to him about that, of all things?”

“Well, he was probably so impressed with my punting skills…he couldn’t keep quiet. That’s the thing,” the Professor declares.

“Maybe… hey, it was me that was punting!”

“Was it? I’ve forgotten all about that.”

My sleep-deprived brain struggles to convince me one way or the other as I grope through the murky fug for the memory.

“Now, here’s a thing that scares me,” the Professor’s mind flits enthusiastically to his next thought. “This whole dadblamery between Head Porter and The Master’s Wife. What is it all about? And what a wonder she decided to show many interests in Mr. Head Porter at the exact same time Headmistress arrived on the scene! Dadblamery, I tell you.”

“Head Porter is a fine fellow but he does seem an odd choice for a lady such as The Master’s Wife,” I reply.

“It’s sorta funny he couldn’t find a lady, at first. Now, he’s getting overrun. That’s how it always seems to happen. I think they may crush him like a toad hopping on weak pea gravel.”

“A beautiful analogy, Professor.”

“Why, many thanks. It’s just unfair. But then, females are always unfair. It’s just the way things are. That’s why they’re called the unfairer sex. Oh dadblameit.”

There’s something wrong with that statement somewhere, but I am too exhausted to care. All I can think about right now is finding somewhere quiet to grab forty winks.

The Choir Competition Continues

The moment we have all been waiting for is almost upon us. Well – that is perhaps a rather grand promulgation for what is, essentially, the culmination of a somewhat juvenile practical joke. Hershel – the architect of this connivance – is no doubt watching from the wings with interest. As the Hawkins College Choir emerge from the nave, Head Porter, Professor Duke and I strain to see if any evidence of our stratagem can be observed.

I am somewhat ashamed to say that I am delighted to see that they look rather like I feel – heavily sleep deprived. No doubt the Porter kept them up all night, searching for the non-existent performance enhancing drugs, which, ironically, they look like they could do with right now. And there is definitely a hint of the itching powder in action – agitation and irritation seems to swarm about them like a plague. There are a couple of fat ones at the back that appear unaffected but you can’t have everything, I suppose.

Under ordinary circumstances, I would find the enjoyment of human suffering abhorrent; but these are not ordinary circumstances and I am enjoying myself immensely. Hawkins College – quite apart from being our natural enemy – are unbelievably smug and, let’s be frank, there are worse things than being tired and itchy.

“They look as rough as a bunch of badgers arses,” Head Porter poetically observes.

“What beautiful imagery, Head Porter,” I say. “Tell me – have you thought of becoming a wordsmith?”

“They look worst than ever thought possible by anybody anywhere,” says the Professor. “I bet they have lots of croaks when they look like that, you know. Imagine. We will probably rank higher than Hawkins, for sure.”

“That’s a point, who is judging this thing anyway?” asks Head Porter.

“Actually, I don’t really know,” I reply. “But the University Dean is in attendance, so I’m betting it’s him.”

I nod up towards the gallery where a corpulent elderly gentleman appears to be snoozing gently. However, his cheeks are so stoutly plump that they have almost devoured his eyes entirely so it is impossible to tell for sure. To all intents and purposes, the University Dean is most likely the most powerful man in the University and therefore The City itself. There is a rumoured upper echelon of shadowy figures that dictate from on high and instruct him, but this is unsubstantiated tittle-tattle at best. Where academics are concerned, I am prepared to believe anything.

“Many too bads Mr. Dean isn’t here,” muses Professor Duke. “Then again, though, his ear is dead to music—much like that fellow up there, I’d say.”

The Dean has very little time for the creative arts and famously only owns one solitary record. I, for one, am rather pleased he isn’t here. With all the warrior nun gossip and the dishevelled state of Hawkins Choir would no doubt raise his suspicions. And the state of the choir is rapidly becoming more dishevelled. A couple of the poor buggers – with darkened eyes and sunken cheeks – are frantically clawing at themselves as the itching powder takes hold upon their flesh. It is quite a disconcerting sight, in fact, particularly for those unaware of the cause. There is a shrill cry from somewhere within the gallery –

“Witchcraft! It’s witchcraft I tell you!”

“What do you mean, witchcraft?” comes a plaintive response. “Don’t be daft!”

“I say they are possessed!” Another voice adds to the hysteria and a fevered muttering ripples across The Great Chapel.

As the wretched Hawkins Choir thrash wildly about the chancel, a typically ridiculous response erupts throughout the audience. There are squeals and accusations of all sorts being thrown into the chattering throng and even mentions of sabotage. That, at least, is true.

“I think we should be making a move, chaps,” I suggest to my bewildered companions. “What with all the nun-talk and now this, it’s probably better we make ourselves scarce.”

“If you insist,” says the Professor. “This ugliness could turn into an epic fight, but let’s leave just because.”

Under the cover of panic and confusion, we quietly slip from our pew and out into the lobby of The Great Chapel. This turns out to be the cause of some surprise – in fact, two surprises. The first surprise is that there is someone stood apparently waiting for us. The second surprise is that it is none other than The Master.