02 June 2012


Years ago, some weeks before the last jubilee, I was living in halls when one of my fellow students asked me for help with an essay; I can't remember the topic, but people regularly came to me for advice on essays, whether they were on history, French cinema, Spanish literature, developmental economics, physiotherapy and the mechanics of the human elbow, or whatever.

My own work done for the evening, I ambled down to Sophie's room -- let's call her Sophie, for convenience -- to help her with her work. I knocked, and she answered, and I entered. And stared.

She'd been doing laundry, you see, and was drying it in her room. And not just any laundry, mind. Underwear, of which she appeared to have vast quantities.

She'd drawn lines of twine about her room and hung her laundry from these lines, such that her room was decorated with a multitude of thongs, myriad colourful triangles swaying in the slight breeze her window let in.

To this day I have never seen more pants.

We sat down to work, but after about the fifth time I frowned, restraining an obvious joke about whether she was expecting the Queen to visit, Sophie realised what was bothering me, started to laugh, and suggested we go down to the common room.

Even now, I can't look at bunting without thinking of Sophie's room and shaking my head. This jubilee weekend is proving quite a challenge.

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