In Oxford, £300 will buy around 180 coffees from the Missing Bean, 60 entries to a club night at Cellar, or full sub-fusc.
This is the fee that Freddy must pay the Judas College decanal team or face “suspension or the possibility of expulsion”. For Freddy, who had spent years with his spotty nose to exam papers, this wasn’t an option. But neither was paying the fi ne – unless he was content to go without food for the rest of term. And he had grown to enjoy, and even need, food. He had pleaded with the Dean to make an exception, implored him to consider fi nancial circumstances before issuing penalties. But it fell on deaf ears: “£300, Frederick – that’s the price you have to pay for your behaviour.”
Only four of the protestors – including Freddy – had been fi ned; most had managed to escape like rats through the kitchens. The other three – an Etonian, a Paulina and the son of a Russian oligarch – all paid off their fines and slipped back into their existence. But this wasn’t quite so easy for Freddy.
After a week of struggling to come up with way to raise the money – a bake sale! Tutoring! Selling my body! – he had resigned himself to rustication and a life of poverty until his early death.
Enjoying his last few days amidst the Dreaming Spires, Freddy decided to do a library crawl, looking at his old haunts. The SSL, where he had fi rst met Bernadette, the Gladstone Link toilets, where they had make-up sex, and on to the Vere Harmsworth, setting of many a sun-drenched existential crisis.
Running his hands along the spines of the various presidential autobiographies – feeling the shaft of Nixon’s smooth cock of a tome – he spotted an unattended desk on which was a MacBook Air, a stack of Philip Roth novels and a dark, leather wallet.
Freddy edged closer and looked around furtively. Nobody else was on this floor. He picked up the wallet and looked inside. £20, £20, £20, £20, £20, £20, £10, £10, £10, £10. In total, £160! My salvation!
Freddy removes the cash from the wallet and stuff s it into his pocket. He looks at the driving license inside the wallet and sees that it belongs to his friend Nick, the fi nalist. Guilt creeps over him and he pauses for a moment,
unsure of how to proceed.
His pause is a moment too long. He feels a hand on his shoulder and hears a voice, whispering, close to his ear: “Take it. I’ve been embezzling it from my JCR anyway…”
Freddy’s story will be continued in Trinity term.