Thursday, November 17, 2005

We sail the ocean grue

The professors at my local university are renowned for their eccentricity. But in real life they're disappointingly ordinary. On a quest for eccentrics? Forget the Colleges. Go to the glorious University Library! An amazing building, constructed entirely from bricks. Modelled on the Great Library at Alexandria, but with a tower.

Every student graduating from the university is allowed to use this library for the rest of their lives. Some of them take this very seriously. Wolfman, for example. Natty tattered tweed, cycle-clips, and a pair of 19th century sideburns. He spends his days emitting gruff barks and copying chemistry papers in pencil onto 1980s-era concertina printer paper. Less appealing is the psychopath with advanced desk-territoriality. Others build walls of books to hide behind. Others look normal but really aren't. They're the ones working on schemes of world domination, or who are using alchemical texts to prove Newton created life from inanimate matter, etc. etc. Compared to this, actual professors are really tame.

But every so often a really good anecdote at High Table restores your faith. Recently I heard that a few years ago, a maths don at one of the richer and scarier colleges took to working late at night in his spacious, ground-floor college rooms. Strange noises of hammering and sawing; odd deliveries, all dutifully ignored by the College Porters, until the don disappeared.

He was rescued by coastguards a day later, some miles off the east coast of Britain in a woefully unseaworthy home-made boat. He wasn't happy they'd found him. "Fuck off!" he shouted to them. "Fuck off! I'm going to America".


Heidi the Hick said...

that's hilarious. My father-in-law left England with a violin on his back and a finger in the air. Wait til I tell him this one!!

fatrobot said...

as long they don't come to canada thats fine
america needs more crazy people

pluvialis said...

he's probably building an aeroplane in his college rooms right now...