Charlatans! Imposters! Vagrants! Just who are these people outside of my college library? Standing there all innocent like, their conversation on occasion interrupted by a chorus of nervous laughter and a glimpse of anticipative malcontent. No longer can I imitate Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks on my smoking breaks, and no longer can I pace and gesticulate with impunity, whilst attempting to mentally digest whatever obscure tome is currently holding my affection (completely unrelated to the work that I should be doing, of course… a smart man’s procrastination). Outside of the library, I am no longer free, and it is because of them! These Vagrants! These Imposters! These Charlatans! Like merchant bankers to a conservative fundraising gig, this flock of unfamiliar faces has occupied my usually hallowed sanctuary, but who are they, and what are they doing here?
Unable to reclaim my space of pontification, I stand, and I listen. And what do I hear? I hear a conversation of utter banality, that like a ship in high wind transports me to a state of abject tedium, little more than post holiday pleasantries (so, how was your Easter?) and the last scraps of gossip from Hilary (Alice? No way!), interspersed by the occasional panic about the amount of work they shoulda woulda coulda done, if only it had not been for x or y wretchedly uninteresting occurrence, that now so recklessly weighs upon current circumstance. Alas. It is Trinity term. And those people who perhaps don’t fit in in their college, or for some other reason(s) tend to hang out with those from other colleges instead of their own. These people are back. And they’re a noisy bunch to say the least.
Perhaps after abandoning their college they feel a social debt is to be repaid, but their utterly banal conversation continues in the library, where the angry eyes of their fellow students fall upon them. We all see people we know in the college library. That’s great. That’s at least a little bit of what having a college is all about. But there is a time, a restriction, a rule – a natural law whose punishment should weigh heavily over all of us – that your voice must be the lowest of low whisper, and that your conversation should last at the absolute maximum five minutes. That does not mean after ten minutes of sitting down and slowly realising you can’t be arsed working after all, re-engaging in your morosely dull conversation that now traps, not just you and your interlopers in its malicious orbit, but those innocent souls who simply want to read their books in peace. It means sitting down, and shutting up. Please.