Porter’s Prophecy

One of the Porter Prophets at Pembroke College

Pembroke Porter A.

‘The favorite part of my job is to see 1st years on their first day: they look so nervous, askin’ all sorts of questions… and then ya see ’em grow. After three years they’ve become bright, confident young people who know what they are going to doing with their lives. “

Pembroke Porter B.

“My favorite part of being a porter is to see the students change. Over the years their are a few that you get to know…It’s interesting but within the first week you can already tell which are going to be successful  Just within watching them for a week, some think that’s playtime now that mum and dad aren’t checkin in on ya…but that’s not why you are here is it? You are here to progress.

You are here to progress.”

Porter’s Prophecy

I enter the lodge head down, the porter looks up…frowns.

No need to say, I’m totally nude but for a towel anyway.

I can hear him rant,  ‘Prior, proper, preparation

prevents poor performance,’ but I can’t help but wonder,

beyond this blunder, Can he foretell or spell out my time

here, in Cambridgeshire?

‘Porter Prophet, Prophesy!

Oh please, on one of your rings of keys

you can appease, abate, my curiosity of late

to see what I’ll undertake and what’s at stake

these next eight weeks…

You have hundreds of keys, thousands, galore!

Can’t one unlock a crystal ball? That’s all

I ask – from your aged eye, can you spy

what is in store for me?’

He leans in close. Was I too verbose?

Looks like he’ll beat me

with brass knuckles

and chuckle as I buckle. But wait–

He strokes his white whiskers…

‘I see…I see, a crown. Yes. A King.

A Pembroke King you shall be,

from module one to module three.

In college shall feel like royalty.

You have flown from afar.

and some customs you’ll find bazaar

on your cultural radar.

Baked beans for breakfast,

punting, here, is done on a punt

not on a football green–

in fact, football is soccer,

and don’t make a scene

getting run over on the wrong side of the road;

or a common mocker-ry

of the great English tradition of afternoon tea:

thou shalt remember: ‘Jam after cream.’

I see you spinning fast with a Scottish lass

twirlin’ fast in a keeley dance.

Are you wet from the sweat or the rain?

Unclear… and yet, I see,  I see

you will come to call Cambridge ‘Home.’

Yes, returning from highland heights,  and castle sights,

both fog, and bog, and green fields with a lonely lamb

back home to the gentle river cam.’

He grows silent, my towel’s still wet and damp

Is that it!? A cultural summer camp?!?!

So I implore, ‘But Mister, what more’s in store?’

Again he strokes his white whiskers–‘I see…I see–

Music will litter the streets with their beggin’ beats

and a home strung songs will carry you along

past Great St. Mary’s and the Market Square’s berries

and fruit stands. Oh how long can you stand

the spinoffs of ‘keep calm and carry on.’

On to your classes; don’t mind the masses

of tourists; every day you will hear a ‘tchau mi amici,’

‘Je t’aime,’ ‘felicitations amigo’  or ‘mutter mit arbieter,’

if not a  Chinese kid asking, ‘Take my photo please’

Remember, thou shalt honour your PKP parents,

don’t peg grinning Greg and carful Carlos

with his mutton chops – they call all the shots.

with the PA too, they know their job,

but Beware! Beware the mob!

Woe! Woe be unto you,

if you get stuck in that stretching queue,

at the CUS cafe, almost e-ver-y day

before and after lunch you want to punch the guy

that took your last grilled panini of the day–

probably from BYU anyway,

or Hong Kongo, or Cal-i-for-nia-ah.

Remember remember this hidden treasure/greatest pleasure

will endure as the cure for your thirst,

and I dirst not speak too loud for it’s frailty,

the secret is: Commensality

I think, That’s a fancy word but I have never heard

that term before or what it’s used for.

The Porter Prophet foretells and dispels my doubts:

‘It means to converse over a meal,

like: breakfast or supper, or upper-class

formal halls: with suits,

and bowties, and gowns and wine

you’ll think you’ve reached cloud nine to dine

and find new fast friends

that last long beyond the programme ends.

What’s more, I see I see…

Thou shalt respect those dastardly dons

even when their reading lists go on, and on.

Love words. love books, love the 24 hour libraries too.

Read ’em, learn ’em, love em through,

Thou shalt not forget that corpus clock

that ticks and tocks, hiccups, and locks

and eats every minute away of every day

Don’t let it rob a moment of  your 56 days

Love the classes and the grasses,

even if you cant walk on them.

Keep these words in faith without a lie,

and I can clearly prophesy:

that your heart will flicker hot with fire

whenever you remember Cambridgeshire


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