I went to university quite a while ago.
I cannot speak for now, but back then things were still very old fashioned at Cambridge.
It felt odd to have porters, whose uniform was a dark suit, including waistcoat and a bowler
hat. They were like a secret police pretending to be postmen. My only interaction with them
was a friendly greeting whenever I picked up my post from my pigeonhole in their office. But
I suspect that if I had broken any of the many rules, it would have been the porter’s I would
have been answering to first.
Then there were the distant figures of so-called dons, usually seen striding around the
quads, their black robes billowing out behind them
This may seem familiar from the Harry Potter movies now, but when I was a teenager these
figures were more reminiscent of something out of a horror movie.
And to complete the cast were the bedders.
It seems incredible now, but a privilege of being an undergrad at Trinity was to have my
room regularly cleaned by the bedder.
Of course, looking back, I realise now that these ladies were presumably another layer of
security and protection for the naïve youngsters under the care of the college. They would
presumably report the presence of any worrying substances, items or activities they might
come across as they worked their way through each room on the corridor each day.
I rarely met mine, as I did in fact have to work quite hard, and go to lectures all day long,
unlike some of my peers studying other topics. I didn’t even know my bedder’s name.
But I must have had some good karma with them, because one day in my third year I did
break the rules.
A friend had a friend whose gerbils had had young, and they needed homes.
I was a vet student who had never been allowed a pet by her parents.
Inevitably I acquired two youngsters.
But luckily for me, the bedder never let on to the porters or anyone else that I had illegal pets
in my room.