Thursday, September 11, 2008


The new academic year has begun at the university.

It always comes as a shock after the quiet of the summer months; one becomes used to the peace, the silence, always being able to find a space in the car park and not having to queue with a horde of loud-mouthed, bespotted and hormonally-driven adolescents for one’s sandwich and coffee.

Now that the term has begun, it is almost impossible to park one’s car if one arrives on campus any later than 8.30am, and in making one’s way from one building to another one must thread one’s way through vast crowds of gormless-looking youth. No offence intended to any students that might be reading this; Melancholicus was once himself a student (in fact the greater part of his adult life thus far has been spent in study) and he is merely voicing his discontent at the rude shattering of the summer calm. Of course he knows that you’re not all gormless. At least for the most part.

But please do try to attend your lectures regularly, and be punctual, for goodness’ sake. I am tired of having to distribute the same handout and announce the same particulars three lectures running because there is ALWAYS someone who missed it the first (or second) time around.

Once the students return to the campus, so do the inevitable student events; the round of balls and parties and plays and games and frivolous debates and all that sort of thing, which are advertised by typically objectionable posters and flyers stuck up on walls, pillars and noticeboards all over the house. Some form of sexual imagery or innuendo is invariably included in these advertisements; it is as though those who advertise these events feel they MUST include some gratuitous sexuality so as not to appear staid or stuffy. Melancholicus is at a loss to understand why the female cohort of the student body is not mortally affronted by the content of some of these posters, as the attitude to women evinced therein is the attitude of the playboy, the pimp and the pornographer. Speaking of pornography, the annual ‘porn debate’ is likewise in the offing. I say annual, because the students have a porn debate every year. Melancholicus has never attended any such debate, since the arguments (if one can call them such) propounded both pro and contra at such a thing are sure to proceed from mere opinion and personal view rather than being grounded in any coherent philosophy of being—and, consequently, not worth listening to. Then there are the socialists, ever active on campus and, most cult-like, preying on the lonely, the vulnerable, and those who otherwise slip through the cracks. These have pasted up a flyer inviting all comers to the inevitable public meeting so beloved of left-wing activists, proclaiming “Why You Should Be A Socialist”, replete with a beefy and somewhat intimidating young woman in dark glasses raising her fist in the air in the classic image of incipient socialist violence.

Now that the Arts Café has completed its renovations and re-opened afresh (with vastly inflated prices, whereat Melancholicus shall no longer buy his coffee there) throngs of students once again sit out in the courtyard till all hours, laughing raucously and for the most part talking nonsense. How does Melancholicus know they’re talking nonsense? Because his second-floor office looks down on the courtyard and the noise rises up and filters in through his window. Roll on November, with its long hours of darkness and its pluvial weather, which will help to keep the students indoors, for he has enough of listening to their indecencies. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

And roll on exam time, too! Melancholicus loves the exams. Not out of malice—he has sat enough exams himself for one lifetime—but the proximity of the exams renders the students quiet and studious and otherwise inoffensive. December is always a quiet month. ’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

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