Town and Gown


Yes, this must be the house – they’d said double gates, large brass lion door knocker. 

“I’m here for the washing machine”

“Oh yes, of course, it’s just through here” She was small, busy, the sort of person who’d be fiercely loyal to her brilliant academic husband.


Down a long hall, past sounds of an elderly man talking in the front room, probably Dr. Jones giving a tutorial. 

            “I’ll leave you to it, then” 


The washing machine looked quite new – I’d worked on this model before.  I turned it on – the power light was fine, but nothing else at all.  I drained the water out, pulled it out from under the worktop, got the lid off.   The training they gave you was good – it made it pretty simple.


As I got stuck in, I got to thinking what had happened, how a month previously, the Bursar had called me in, and explained that Government cuts meant that the College could no longer justify a full-time electrician, and that after 18 years, I was going to be let go. And now, here I was, literally on my knees at the Senior Tutor’s house.


The second fuse I checked was blown.  I put a new one in, and turned the power on again.  Yes, that was it.


The sound of those earnest young voices in the front room, the sound of privilege, really started to piss me off.  Words like ‘Wittgenstein’, ‘existentialism’, phenomenology’ oozed under the door. I mean, what right did they have to think themselves so superior, when it was only chance that gave them an education, and me Arbury Comprehensive?


Mrs. Jones was back, “Can I get you a cup of tea?”

            “Yes, thanks.  Two sugars”  (Well, I was booked for an hour, so I thought I might as well make the most of it.)  Naturally, it came in a fine china cup and saucer, but still welcome for all that.  


The undergraduates were going now – several “Thank you, Sirs”, and “Same time next week, then”. 


Dr, Jones came into the kitchen. “How are you getting on?  Is it going to be difficult?”  This was my chance to make my feelings count.

            “Well, the filter’s blocked, and it’s caused the pump to seize.  It’s probably going to mean a new pump – ‘bout £100 plus labour, I’d guess.”  I showed him the filter, which looked pretty grim, because I hadn’t rinsed it out.

            “Oh yes, I see.” Brain the size of a planet, maybe – but not a clue about the real world. 


Well, at least it was going to make me feel better!


Chris Moller, 9th Oct04


Please give some feedback on this blog:

This is great, you should find a publisher!

I enjoyed this, and it has made me think anew about something. The style's good.

It's stylistically OK, but don't give up the day job!

It needs quite a bit of work, and I think you should probably stick to engineering!

It was a waste of my time to read this rubbish. Don't waste your time writing it!

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