Monday, May 23, 2005


Gutted like a kipper

Feeling pretty run down today: my team lost the Awaji final on a shoot-out (the Man USA of western Japan), and my active weekend has left me with a tired body, a full complement of mosquito bites to all recognisable body parts, and a stinking cold. As I was riding the Keihan line home and contemplating the unfairness of life, the following incident came back to me.

Define "gutted."

The first semester at Newcastle University was what you'd call a transitive period. Most of the first year students were tasting freedom and independence for the first time and were having to make a lot of adjustments. One thing that took a great deal of getting used to was the awful weather in Newcastle from October onwards. As a result, Dr James Knowles was delivering his lecture on Volpone and sadistic humour to a pretty wheezy student body in the Herschel building that morning.

About halfway through the lecture, one girl at the back succumbed to a fit of coughing so raucous that it completely drowned out Dr Knowles's tepid commentary. The stalwart academic paused pointedly and the wretched girl, mortified at the unwanted attention she was drawing to herself, stood up briskly and descended the steps from the back of the lecture theatre towards the exit aisle. As she reached the bottom step, she stumbled and pitched forward, limbs flailing, into the row of seats in front.

In the middle of a lecture on sadistic humour.

We all laughed at her.

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