Tuesday, 17 May 2011

College Mascot

Not Mine.
In an awesome act of boho chic, one of my University friends SAM (Surprisingly A Mother) has produced a Sprog. This was slightly surprising. Even more amazing (to me only) is that I'm not his GODPARENT. I've got so much to offer surely? Training in punctuality, advice on aggressive entertaining and, most useful of all, a mild fear of children. A couple of our friends did make the cut: their triumphal cufflink-shining as they prepare for the big Christening bash in December grates daily.

In an unrelated event, my University English group learned that our Director of Studies - the gentleman that interviewed us and then nurtured us through the shock of it all - is retiring.

At our college, an arcane law requiring fellows to leave in the year of their 67th birthday means that one of the best teachers I came across at Cambridge will be arbitrarily ousted months from now. True, the statute did prove a convenient way of getting rid of that insane Nazi bloke who used to pose naked in the windows of his rooms when male freshers walked past. But in Mr Goodling's case, it seems a total waste.

Anyway, the connection between these two facts is this. Sam and I decided to make a day trip to Cambridge to see Mr G and lament that he's leaving. Ever portable, Sprog came too.

Ambling into your university town months after leaving with your friend and her baby prompts a certain crisis of nostalgia. You know that it's not your town any more - Sam's baby proves we're not about to pop into a supervision - but it doesn't stop you spending half an hour at the Porter's Lodge making the Porters agree that the college isn't as much fun these days. Something they ultimately do, only because you've distracted them with a tiny baby.

Happily Sam had explained to Mr G about the new addition to our English group before we arrived. He had apparently asked so sternly on the phone 'And what is your news?' that she'd blurted out 'I've had a baby!' before hanging up, barely waiting for a response.

I felt fairly limited when my response to the same 'What is your news?' question ended with me gabbling nonsensically about Kate in the Countryside and my fledgling writing ambitions. I was back in first year again, hoping not to let him down.
I exaggerate.

Elegant as ever, he knew all the right baby questions to ask and pretended not to notice as Sprog mewled and puked with increasing regularity throughout the afternoon. And he enquired so delicately about our careers that I almost told him what I do for a job, despite how out-of-place it felt in the oak-panelled book-lined haven.

And as we caught the train back to London, clutching gifts of books (including The Lustful Turk - which Mr G owned in duplicate), soothed Sprog fell asleep straight away. I could see Sam thinking the same thing as I was: is it too late to ask Mr Goodling to be Godfather?


  1. In 19 years you'll be back to attend the graduation of the Sprog. And then you'll cry (even more)

    love you though x

  2. 'goodling' (nice pseudonym) got me absolutely twatted at matriculation dinner. what a lovely man he is. did you see vic?

  3. you come to Cambridge and you don't even tell me you're there?! WHAT is the POINT?!