a n n i v e r s a r y

[ 17:35 wednesday – st john’s college, cambridge ]

sitting on the step of “d” staircase, second court, powerbook on my lap. from time to time a student clipclops across the unlit echoey quadrangle. most are alone and most are carrying a rustling polythene bag, conveying the evening’s groceries back to their rooms. this is a large simple court from the sixteenth century with red-brick ranges rising three storeys, triangular gables capping the upper row of windows. in the middle of the northern range is a tower. on top of this was once an observatory, from which the planet pluto was discovered. or perhaps it was neptune or uranus, one of those icy remote bodies anyway. the observatory was dismantled when it was found the tower was subsiding under its weight. i lived in the tower one summer.

the college bell chimes the quarter. a gaggle of youths lurches past joking and laughing. the stars are clear overhead, a few wisps of cloud.

yesterday was the first anniversary of michael’s death. on the underground, arriving back from berlin, i looked over someone’s shoulder at a magazine and after a while realised the face i was staring at was michael’s. not the face i knew but a face of fifty years earlier with black slicked-back hair and smooth skin and less laughter. the photo was one of four. another was the queen mother, another was john thaw, an actor famous for playing a television detective, i cannot remember who the final one was. the title at the top of the page was “those we have lost in 2002”, the magazine was “the week”. how strange, i thought, that they have chosen michael, a man whose name was not familiar to many and whose face was known by hardly anyone. nonetheless i felt like pointing to the little picture and shouting to the carriage: look, look here, this was a great man.

i came up here to cambridge today to speak with ray jobling, the senior tutor, and catherine twilley, the development officer. it’s always a pleasure to visit and catch up. plus i hope to get a small article about trampoline in the alumni newsletter.

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