(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Tenth Anniversary Edition.
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
I was late arriving at the office having had to speak with Sister Maria about Mima doing bawwet what sort of clothing she’d need and shoes etc., apparently they only use leotards and simple dance shoes for the first term or two—they’d let me know any other. As they used an external teacher, that was where the cost was but seeing as Meems asks for so little compared to the others, I paid up with a relative smile. We’d have to go shopping at the weekend for the required colour leotard and the shoes—until then she’d have to do it in her school one and bare feet.
I explained to Diane about the joys of ballet classes and she sniggered and recounted how she’d always wanted to be a ballerina, all she lacked was talent. I knew the feeling, my spirit was willing but the bodily bit was neither suitable nor capable. I can’t even do line dancing as my sense of right and left as well as a temporary inability to distinguish between arms and legs, means my coordination is away on holiday—on a different planet—yet I can ride a bike and at moderate speed, though roller skating was beyond my capabilities, couldn’t move and balance at the same time.
“How’s the lecture going?” she asked producing a cuppa.
“Nearly ready—how I got talked into this, I’ll never know.”
“Yes you do, you agreed to help the university raise money to award some free places to Syrian refugee students.”
“Only because Daddy nearly twisted my arm off. Have we sold any tickets?”
“About six hundred, why?”
“Oh poo, now I can’t go sick on the night, I’ll have to do it.”
“Yes you will and the good news is the various copyright holders have agreed you can use their images to illustrate your lecture—as it’s for charity.”
“What all of them?”
“Uh-huh,” she replied nodding and smirking. “Here they are,” she handed me a memory stick. I’d need to scan through them to remind myself of exactly what we had on there so I could coordinate it with the text I was using.
“What are you wearing?” she asked as I sipped my tea and plugged in the memory stick to view the contents.
“Clothes I expect, why?”
She roared with laughter, “I just had a vision of the naked professor,” she blushed as I glared at her.
“It would put people off their dinners, especially if they were having pork.”
“Oink oink,” she said and disappeared out of the door just before my shoe hit it. I then had to get up and collect it—I never seem to learn, do I?
Back to my lecture and I scanned through the images on the stick and noted in my text where each one should come. The death of his daughter, Annie, of whom we had picture, really hurt him and several biographers have said he devoted part of his description about death to his own pain at the loss of his daughter, describing it as wedges being driven into the face.
By the time I’d read through the whole of it again—yes I was going to read most of it—it was lunch time. I put the text and the stick in my computer bag and Diane and I went off for something to eat. When we returned, someone had forced the office door and both my lecture notes and the memory stick were missing—what the hell was going on?
University security were summoned and they called in the local police. Sadly, the CCTV cameras weren’t actually in operation—because most of the time, Diane or I am here—so we were attacked by someone who knew our movements. We all checked Diane’s office and found a tiny camera wedged in a plant pot which showed not only her office but also who was going through my door, or in this case out of it.
“What is this lecture, you’re doing, Professor?” asked the detective inspector.
“One on Darwin, it’s for a fund to enable free places for two or three Syrian refugees at this university.”
“I see, could that motivate some nasty minded individual?”
“I wouldn’t have thought so in a university, still if we discover there is someone, then the university will deal with them and if you are able to identify them, they could face prosecution as well as our own internal disciplinary service. We have no time or place for racists or bigots.”
“Quite right, too, Professor—we’ve had to deal with in the force as well, small mindedness and open prejudice at times.” I kept quiet about my own experiences, one or two of which cost them rather a lot of money—but charities did benefit from it in the long run, so as they say, every cloud has a silver lining—in this case of a sterling variety.
Diane handed me another memory stick, “The back up—don’t lose this one.”
“I’ll guard it with your life,” I said quickly and it took her a moment to see the joke in my quip at which point she poked out her tongue—a real sophisticate is my secretary.
I quickly ran off another set of lecture notes from my laptop, which had been untouched as far as we knew, but I’d get Trish to check when I got home. I do have another these days so I’d use that if necessary.
By the time the police had finished it was time for me to go and collect the girls and then have a bite to eat and change to return to deliver this lecture. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling too much like eating very much but David had done me a tuna jacket potato and light salad, so I could hardly refuse. By the time I’d showered and changed, Trish had checked out my laptop and declared it was free of interference—or words to that effect.
I wore a light blue Laura Ashley suit for my talk and checked through the memory stick with one of the technicians to make sure it was compatible with the computer running the projector—the latter is suspended close to the ceiling of the main lecture hall—it holds nearly a thousand people and it was looking ominously full. Oh well more money for a good cause, I just hope I can deliver the goods—we’ll find out in a very short time.
Tom introduced me: “I’d like to introduce our speaker, Professor of the faculty of science at this university, a biologist, ecologist and expert on evolution and Darwin and my daughter. I give you, Cathy Watts.”
He said that without a hint of an accent, so how come we can hardly understand him at times if he can speak perfect English? I was still cogitating on this when the applause reminded me I had other things to think about. Here goes...
“Thank you, Vice Chancellor, Professor, Daddy; good evening to everyone else. I claim no expertise in the case of Charles Darwin but I hope I’ve been able to use that of other people, who are experts, to make a reasonable fist of this...” I launched into my talk and the projector linked in very well. What astonished me was that once I began, the notes were entirely superfluous and I was remembering the names of his colleagues and family members as well as his opponents without so much as a glance at my notes.
I seemed to be able to talk much more authoritively than I had expected and threw in lots of material which hadn’t been in my notes nor had I been aware I’d even retained. I was even able to recall verbatim what Sedgwick had said in his letter to Darwin after the publication of The Origin, which had I had time to think about would have completely thrown me as my memory, apart from my Lady Macbeth days, has never been that brilliant. Normally it isn’t a problem because when I’m teaching I know my material inside out and I have notes to fall back on should I need them, but this was something that I hadn’t put in my notes, along with a whole pile of more detail which was also not in them.
The end result was that I entertained or educated them for nearly two hours, half an hour longer than I intended or expected and thankfully, they seemed to enjoy it and even stayed to ask some questions, one of which was prefixed with, “And you’re not an expert on Darwin?” I blushed and shrugged.
Afterwards as the thing ended Tom was very pleased with my performance as was Diane and several people came up to speak with me or shake hands—like they do after these things. I saw Diane and waved to her, she gave me a thumbs up in reply.
A couple of minutes later, I heard Diane shout as someone shook my hand wearing what was a plastic or rubber glove, which felt wet. “No god—huh, well here’s where you get to find out, you infidel.” I then realised to my horror the glove was coated in some sort of skin permeable poison, and worse she held firmly on to my hand.
Then the weirdest thing happened, my hand got incredibly hot and I mean hot—like fire hot—and I smelt burning plastic. My assailant shrieked and collapsed unconscious on the ground, yet my hand looked and felt normal. Just what was going on?
For those who can use BBC iplayer the following documentary may be of interest.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.