I was so excited to be returning to university after the pandemic lockdown, and very much looking forward to seeing my 4th year friends. Of course, we all ‘saw’ GK on a regular basis now that he was famous. Usually this was on television, but I had recently seen him in my local pharmacy, purchasing an ’embarrassing’ item. I hadn’t approached him to renew our acquaintance: I worried that he would get the impression that I would sell my story of our encounter to the press.
I was about five minutes late to the welcome lecture in a brand new building on campus. To reach my designated classroom, I had to pass through the main auditorium. Here Boris Johnson was speaking to a bunch of eager undergraduates. If only I had not dithered when visiting NP in Nile Mile Burn and the Js in Biggar. Then I would have arrived on time and would have been able to take a seat next to my friends in our designated classroom, rather than squeeze into a spot between strangers in the fourth row.
I recognised several faces in the audience, but at least half in the huge class were unfamiliar. I eventually realised that those unknown to me were the ‘real’ fourth years, i.e. those who had just returned from their year abroad in France. My year group was joining theirs to make up for missing a year of study due to the pandemic.
I was jolted from my thoughts when I heard the very young lecturer mention my name. He was congratulating me on keeping everyone in my year in contact with one another for almost 40 years.