Saturday, February 10, 2007


Lime trees, lamp-post, snow. It's all a bit C.S. Lewis, isn't it. My hair hides no horns, however, and there are perfectly ordinary human toes at the end of those boots.

It's nice to see Cambridge in snow. On my way to the office, I bumped into a gang of College gardeners. "I'm going to make a snowman!" I told them. "You're a bit late for that" they said, gesturing vaguely to the orchard. "The students have made loads already". "Ah" I said. "But mine will be better. It will be a fellows' snowman".

I didn't make a snowman. After seeing the twelve foot high giant snowmen built by teams of engineering undergraduates across Chapel Court and on the playing fields, I rather lost interest. I know when I'm beaten. Christina wrote later to say she'd watched an impromtu cricket match in her car-park: students using a pile of snow for stumps and a snowball as a ball.

These budding Collingwoods were rounded on by a member of College staff who shouted from the window, "No ball games!"
"It's not a ball" they countered. "It's snow!"

Snowballs are such strange weapons. One January day many years ago I was sitting upstairs at a table in the English Faculty library watching a bunch of happy undergraduates having a snowball fight across the wide-open wasteland of the Sidgwick site. As I watched, there was a pause in proceedings. The unmistakable form of Stephen Hawking in his buggy thing came into view, making his laborious way up icy Sidgwick Avenue, accompanied by his wife. And I swear, there was this moment where all these lads looked at Stephen Hawking, and then down at the snowballs in their hands. Oh, they were so tempted. I was horrified!

I nearly killed Stephen Hawking once. I turned the corner of Pembroke Street in my little red Renault and there he was, in the middle of the bloody road. I tell you, he's a terrible driver.

That might have ended my academic career, don't you think? Can you imagine the headlines?
The worst thing is, after I parked the car and stumbled into the department, rather shaken, I confessed my near-miss to a colleague.

"Oh" he said. "I wouldn't have worried. He did all his best work twenty years ago".


indigoGlyph said...

If not a faun in Narnia, then maybe a part in the opening chapters of Pullman's Northern Lights?

I'm such a fool. The original Narnia is Mercian - I walk through it every day - but did I remember to snap one of the forest-dwelling lamposts in this last snow? Did I, bugger.

Old Scrote said...

It's SO good to have you back and on top form, Pluvialis! Come back soon.

Steve Bodio said...

What Old Scrote said!

Heidi the Hick said...

Gosh I like your boots...don't you look ahhhhty!