The job has changed in the six years that I’ve been doing it, in terms of the college being much busier. I think financial pressure causes the colleges to need to make full use of the facilities. Out of term-time we have to maximise things like conference guests and banquets, which is important to us to maintain a good income for the college generally. Sometimes it’s a bit calmer out of term-time, but when you’ve got strangers coming in every other night during the holidays, obviously you have to acquaint them with the same situation over and over again, which can get a bit tedious. When the students are settled in during term everything runs itself really.
Luckily our students are all very pleasant; most of the time they’re quite good fun. That’s the part of the job I enjoy most, as opposed to the difficult people we get from time to time. Occasionally we have some very snotty-nosed people who seem to like ‘humiliating the servants’, as it were. That’s the hardest to deal with, they think you’re some sort of ‘flunkie’. You’ve just got to grit your teeth and bear it, really. We’ve lost quite a few staff because of that, it’s the main factor which causes people to leave, I think. We do get some pressure from that area and it has taken its toll on a number of us; unfortunately we’ve lost some good people because of that.
There have been funny times as well. One of my favourite stories involved a student of ours, very nice chap actually, still see him now and again. The main thing with students really is drunkenness, usually at the beginning of term we have a few wild nights before they settle down and start the work. We had this one chap who came in with his girlfriend and suddenly vanished from view. I heard these gurgles and groans so I went out and found his girlfriend collapsed on the edge of the lawn there, semi-conscious and gurgling away. I took my flashlight and saw this chap standing in the middle of the front quad lawn. He was pissing against one of the trees, so i crept up behind him and mentioned his name. He must have drenched his trousers! We’ve laughed about that ever since.
I work 8-hour shifts Monday to Friday, but I also write. I used to teach English in a state school and for private tuition, and then I was Finance Officer at the Job Centre before coming here. Now writing is a sort of hobby: I publish my work on the internet. At the moment I’m writing a critical examination of Colin Wilson for next May, a book of about two hundred pages in which I’m examining his New Existentialist philosophy, which is an argument against Sartre. Wilson’s argument is that we’ve meandered into a contemporary pessimism through following Sartre to the letter. I want to reassess that argument and see if it’s correct. I’m not trying to publish in the conventional way as there’s not really a market for my sort of work, so I use the PABD (Publish and Be Damned) network on the internet. It’s an author empowerment sort of service, which a lot of people are using now, as you’ve got total control over what you do, and you can distribute it yourself. In a way, it’s self-publishing, because the sort of thing I’m writing is not really commercial at all. You could say that my ambition is to carry on working in this field.ARCHIVE: 0th week MT 2005

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