Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Ceremony of The Key

"and finally..."
says the Examinations Officer

(whom we all admire for his efficiency
and meticulous attention to detail)

"...I must give you the Special Key
which was given to me by my predecessor
and has been passed down
from one Examinations Officer to the next."

The new Examinations Officer appreciates
the significance of the moment
and asks respectfully

"What is special about The Key?"

The retiring Examinations Officer pauses for effect

"It opens any door in the Department!"

The new Examinations Officer is impressed.
The retiring Examinations Officer looks at his bunch of keys...

"Oh bother!
They all look the same.

I will have to go and try them out
to work out which is which."

MrsM realises that he has already handed over
The Mantle of Infallibility.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Population Explosion

There have been so many new babies
in the Department this year
that my budget for celebration flowers
has been joyfully stretched to the limit.

We know the date and wait for news.
The email arrives:
"I have a beautiful baby daughter..."

They stare solemnly out of the photo,
little French twins, petit pois.

She is swaddled and sleeping.
Her parents looked shocked with sleeplessness.

He is a placid baby
and smiles slowly,
showing two pearly teeth,
when I bounce him on my knee.

I shut the door and make her sit down.
She leans back in the chair beside my desk
and relaxes while I hold the baby.

He leaves the office with Post-It notes
on his jumper
and on his nose
and on his little chubby fingers.

She is very shy...
but she blows me a kiss...
much to the surprise of her father and mother.

He is clutching a miniature Woolly Mammoth.
Not difficult to guess whose son he is.

She is proud of her baby brother
but the lure of the swivel chair
is too distracting to maintain the image
of a responsible two year old Big Sister for long.

Will this little boy,
hiding behind his father's legs,
be good with computers too?

She is younger than me
but is already a grandmother.
I look at the photo of her tiny grand-daughter
and wonder what the future holds for me.

Somewhere in Edinburgh
the newest little Geographer is asleep
on the edge of the world that awaits him.

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Thursday, 15 July 2010


Here they are:

the Head of Department,
the Examinations Officer and the Admissions Tutor,
the enthusiastic academic and the expert on woolly mammoths,
the youngest academic and the tiny American academic,
the Professor who shall remain nameless,
the academic who is going to be 41 quite soon,
and a score of other colleagues in their academic finery.

The sun shone, the champagne flowed,
the cameras flashed to capture the memories
and the parents of the graduands smiled and smiled.

And now...
let the summer begin.

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