Sunday, 16 June 2013

Boat Party!!

A perfect evening: warm, still and cloudless

Three hundred and fifty Geographers,
staff and students, ready to party.

And twenty enormous, surly bouncers.

Setting off from Tower Bridge
we sail upstream to Westminster
and then downstream to the Dome.

The Shard looks spectacular...
 it was a case study for a recent PhD...

There are blue framed shades, black lace dresses,
cream wedding shoes on a trial run, tweed flat caps.

The finalists tell me their plans for the future:
postgraduate studies, job applications, careers.

The second years tell me about their summers:
jobs, travel, dissertation research.

The first years tell me about their memories:
freshers week, Spain, halls, tutorials.

I thank the GeogSoc committee:
Sam, Martha, Hannah, Will, Becca, Izzy and Abi,
their hard work and imagination
has made so many happy memories this year.

There is dancing.

A sunset to remember for a lifetime
 Every shade of red, orange and gold

 Here I am with the lovely Natalie:
PhD student, rugby fanatic and dear friend.

I catch a late train home from Waterloo
and I am looked after all the way by students
who make sure I get home safely.

And that was the loveliest thing of all.

Friday, 24 May 2013

what a time it was

Is it really over two years ago
that I wrote to you from Nerja?
I looked back at the photos today,
amazed to find that time had passed so quickly.

The first year students I accompanied
have become good friends now
who drop by my office to tell me their news.

They will be sitting their last exam today,
celebrating, sleeping, going to job interviews
and then packing up to leave.

It will be hard to let them go.
Very hard.

“No matter how much time passes,
no matter what takes place in the interim,
there are some things we can never assign to oblivion,
memories we can never rub away.” 

Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Confessions of a Proof Reader

The exam author had intended to ask students to discuss

"the purification and privatisation
of public space
through urban regeneration".

Unfortunately, the exam paper was missing a crucial l.

I'm feeling frail.

Friday, 22 March 2013

a world before our world

The Lady Professor spends her life
working with the fossil bones of animals
and using them to reconstruct past climates:
wolves roaming the Somerset hills,
hippos swimming where Trafalgar Square is now,
woolly rhinoceros grazing in Staffordshire.

After she has been to the exhibition of Ice Age Art
at the British Museum
she shows me a replica carving,
small enough to hold in the palm of your hand,
and we wonder at it together.

It is an adult woolly mammoth
carved by someone who saw them wild,
who knew what colour they were,
how they moved, what they smelt like,
recognised the sounds of their calls.

We cannot know why the statue was carved
or much about the person who carved it
but it is the briefest glimpse, a pinpoint beam of light,
into a world before our world.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

the world comes to me

The Young Academic and the relatively Young Professor
have been in the Falkland Islands
acting as official academic observers
for the referendum which took place last week.

My tiny role in this diplomatic mission
was to assist in the purchase
of high specification technical clothing
and in return they agreed to send me pictures
of aforementioned clothing in situ.

So here are two pictures of penguins
for the next edition of the Goretex catalogue.

Read about their role in the referendum here:
Geopolitics & Security

Thursday, 31 January 2013

that was the night that was

On the last night
 it is time to go out and relax,

a drink in an Irish bar,
a game of pool

then off to the clubs,
raucous and full of life

where there is dancing
until late, late, late

followed by a quiet stroll home
through palm-lined streets.

5am and all's well.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Brilliance of Professors

Christmas Lunch - December 2011

I think that this is one of the pictures
that I would put in my desert island photo album...
I know that whenever I looked at it
I would still hear the faint sound of laughter
and it would be impossible to feel lonely.