Our handsome new biology lecturer was annoyed. So was I. He was annoyed because every few seconds another latecomer would bang noisily into the lecture theatre and interrupt his speech on physiology. I was annoyed because I was premenstrual.
“I would just like attention for future lectures,” he said, in his sultry Mexican accent. “I get quite distracted when the door is opening and closing all the time. So if you can’t be here before five minutes of when the lecture starts, I won’t allow you to come in.”
Seized with a random burst of indignation, I called out from my seat at the very back of the lecture theatre: “‘Scuse me! Quite a lot of people have to walk quite a long way across the campus to get here.”
I don’t know why I said that. I didn’t know where any of the students were coming from.
“Is that your case?” asked the handsome lecturer.
“No,” I admitted. I come from three miles away and always arrive early for my lectures. I didn’t let that fact dissuade me from continuing to speak for my fellow students, most of whom I wouldn’t recognise if I saw them in the street.
“I find it distracting as well,” I said, glaring hormonally at two more latecomers who were searching for seats, “but our last lecturer would wait 5 to 10 minutes after the hour to start the lecture, so that everybody would have a chance to get here.”
In fact, our previous lecturer always arrived late and dishevelled, with no plan of what he was going to say to us, and only got away with it because he is blessed with the gift of the gab.
“Unfortunately, we have a lot of material to get through,” said the handsome lecturer unhappily. “But I may take your suggestion.”
The following day, on my way into the Biosciences building, a duck sprang out of the shrubbery and almost collided with my head. Turning in surprise, I saw four more angry mallards wrestling among the foliage. It appears that I am not the only one being swayed by hormones lately.
The males, with their sunshine-yellow beaks, were pecking and shoving each other out of the way in a scramble to be the first to mate with the brown female trapped beneath them. Despite their fancy plumage, drakes are not the greatest proponents of courtship. They were so intent on their struggle that they completely ignored me when I walked up to them. I contemplated rescuing the female, but decided this would only prolong the inevitable for her: the drakes would chase her until she sank down exhausted in some other patch of greenery, or worse, in the water, where the pressure of their bodies might drown her. Here, she looked unhappy but not in physical danger. So instead, I observed and took some photos.
This caused me to lose track of time, and I arrived late for my lecture. I saw with some horror that the lecturer was standing at the back of the theatre, apparently waiting for me.
“Hello,” he said with a smile. “I’m taking your advice.”
He delivered the lecture several minutes late, and finished with minutes to spare. There were no interruptions.