Perran has one day in between getting back from Cornwall and Bristol and heading on towards Swansea for a weekend with his friend Lou, now an undergraduate there. Half term homework is being mopped up and a great deal of mellow tootling is happening on the sax. Finally, a tube of Pringles, a box of Carenza’s cookies and a bottle of his father’s elderflower wine are loaded into his rucksack.
As he helps me lay the table for tea, I see him smiling to himself.
“That tutor who gave the introductory talk at Bristol…”
I know what he means – we had been sitting stiff and awestruck with hundreds of other candidates and their chauffeurs/parents, all dwarfed by the lofty imitation mediaeval hall. Along with the others, we were craning our necks and goggling at the fan vaulting, arcades and traceries, all dramatically uplit in red and purple. I opened my bottle of coke and it made a slight hiss. Dozens of people turned to stare at me.
Eventually, the tutor stood up and addressed us,
“I don’t know what’s come over them with the lighting today – it looks like a Gothic brothel in here.”
As one, the audience slumped into relaxation – however scary the architecture, the staff were clearly friendly.