This is the story of a non-event. It’s just a funny thing that happened to me one day when I was a student.
It happened when I was studying for my Master’s degree and my friend E and I had gone to see our supervisor. He was a Professor and the Head of Department. Although he was and is a very decent man, he had a reputation for being rather dragon-like and we were both slightly scared of him. I think this was mainly due to the knowledge that he wouldn’t have any qualms about telling you exactly what he thought of you or your work (within reason) and there was no chance of wriggling out of anything if he thought your work wasn’t up to scratch. He was quite a hard taskmaster, but rightly so, and he had a definite air of authority and superior intelligence about him which could be slightly unnerving at times.
We had an appointment with him so he could check on how our essays were going (at least I think that’s why we were there, I can’t really remember). We turned up at the appointed time and knocked on the door. There was no answer. We knocked again, a bit louder, but there was still no answer. We assumed he wasn’t in and decided to wait to see if he came back, but after a while we began to think that perhaps he wasn’t going to show up.
As this was so uncharacteristic of him, we decided that we should try and really make sure that he wasn’t in before we gave up and went away, because we would have been in trouble if he thought we’d not bothered or remembered to turn up to see him. I don’t think there can have been anyone in the department’s office, otherwise we would have just checked in there. So, we (I can’t remember which one of us it was, it may well have been me) decided that we would have to look through the keyhole of the door to the Professor’s office. I duly bent down to look through the keyhole and
boomed the Professor as he opened the door. My friend and I literally jumped with surprise at his sudden appearance and immediately began laughing hysterically for about five minutes. The Professor, although amused, was obviously not particularly impressed, because he let us know that he thought we were behaving like undergraduates, which somehow amused us even more. I remember having to lean against the corridor wall because I was in pain from laughing so much. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life, which is ridiculous because it wasn’t even that funny – I think it was the shock!
The memory of this episode is aided by a stick-figure cartoon E drew and stuck on my door shortly after it took place. I still have it, and I wanted to scan it and add it to this post but I can’t find it today, despite being sure that I’ve seen it quite recently.
I don’t think the event described above sounds funny to anyone else apart from E and I (and maybe the Professor, although I doubt he remembers it now) but it’s one of many amusing and happy memories I have from my postgraduate year that I hope will stay with me and continue to make me laugh for a long time to come.