Letter to: My Porters

It's time to show some appreciation for these all-seeing guardians of our colleges

To the unsung heroes of Oxford’s colleges,

I can’t begin to fathom the things that you must have seen over the years you’ve spent scrupulously monitoring the goings-on in our colleges. Your efforts to try and maintain some level of law and order are admirable, especially in the face of our best attempts to cause havoc after a particularly heavy Park End Wednesday or Bridge Thursday.

When you first saw the flock of fresh-faced freshers en route to the Sheldonian, decked out in their newly purchased sub fusc and still full of that nervous excitement, you must have thought maybe this year, maybe this year they won’t turn out to be little demons. Your hopes were quickly dashed.

You and our beloved scouts are tied neck-and-neck for who has seen us at our lowest. From stumbling head first into the lodge, to trying to avoid redecorating the perfectly kept quad with a hastily eaten Hassan’s lamb doner, you’ve always been forgiving and understanding – for this we can’t thank you enough.

Your watchful and all-seeing eye protects us all from the heinous crime of tourist tailgating. You’ve also rescued swathes of us in Freshers’ week, when we locked ourselves out of our rooms. And the look of deepest sympathy you give us when you find us in the library at 3:30am, broken in mind and spirit, is enough to give anyone hope of brighter days to come.

Even in my darkest hour, when I timidly asked for cleaning equipment after a mortifyingly messy Wednesday night, you didn’t hesitate to arm me with carpet stain remover and a mop – all without so much as a hint of judgement.

A series of apologies are also in order. For the feeling of dread that consumes you as we pass through the lodge, buoyed by a hearty pre-drinking session in the college bar and prepped for the awaiting chaos. Not to forget our nocturnal escapades on the way back. When we try to open our room doors with our Bod card, or think it’s a smart idea to try and climb onto the roof, you are the voice of reason that tells us it’s probably best to go to bed.

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That you’ve born witness to so much, yet still greet us all with unfaltering good humour and charm is beggars belief. Maybe your early morning fire alarm tests, which are just long enough to have me running down the stairs in pyjamas, provide you with some amusement as recompense for the trouble we cause you.

The CCTV around college may occasionally seem a tad Orwellian, but the thought you are at its control room reassures us we are in safe hands.

Yours gratefully (and apologetically),

Rob