Unheard Oxford: Neal Marjoram, member of the Pembroke maintenance team

Another view on the dreaming spires. This week, Sophie Dowle talks to Neal Marjoram about fixing boilers and keeping students content

Neil at work

Usually two or three of these lights go at the same time, so I’ve got a couple of them to do today. It’s shame it’s today that they’ve gone, because it’s raining.

I like the sort of variety you get working here. You never know what you’re going to get that day. A lot of it is routine. We get a lot of heating problems. On an average day I get in to Pembroke early in the morning and begin my day by checking the system and seeing what’s been reported overnight. I spend my morning responding to them. A problem to do with heating is nearly always among them. They are priority so I make sure to get them done. The boilers normally need the pressure dropped on them, or you need a new part. Sometimes I have to call someone in to look at things like that.

I mostly work at the GAB (Sir Geoffrey Arthur Building; Pembroke’s off site accommodation), and I prefer it down there. I just know it a lot better. When someone describes a fault I know what they mean or I know what it’s going to be, whereas up in college I don’t know the set up so well.

This time of year we start to get some stranger requests. Everyone’s got their exams coming up so little things get more annoying and more highlighted. For instance, last week I had people complaining about banging and squeaking doors. It’s little annoying things. It’s not a big deal, but when your exams are coming up it becomes more of a big deal. You do get more of that at certain times of the year, which is understandable.

It’s the routine, small things that are important. They’re part and parcel of the job. The most important thing is to keep the students happy. If they’re happy then it’s a lot easier, and college runs a lot more smoothly.