In a doomed attempt to add a thin veneer of whitewash to the Stygian darkness of my soul, I am once again staying in a theological college while I visit Cambridge. To boost my efforts, I did spend a chunk of yesterday evening in the Divinity School and may well taken in evensong later today.
OK, I’ll admit that any benefit to my soul (assuming it exists and is capable of redemption) is purely coincidental. The college was the cheapest option for staying in the city and my other two visits to buildings with a religious bent are purely to enjoy the music contained within.
I have just returned from breakfast in the college refectory. I found myself sharing a table with an older couple (i.e. even older than me) who enquired whether I was a student here. Presumably, I have the look of one with a calling, a proto-vicar if you will. My initial thought on being asked this question was that it was entirely natural. I look just like a student and could easily be confused with those in their late teens and early twenties that make up so much of the corpus of the university. After an embarrassingly long delay, it struck me that a theological college is likely to be dominated by mature (even ancient) students and as a man of 50 I really cannot pass for a student in anything but the very poorest of lights (basically, it would need to be pitch black!).
All rather telling! Clearly, I continue to believe that not only do I feel like a student on the inside – and am, incredibly, still fooling (most of) the rest of the world that I am an adult – but part of me still believes I look like one as well, despite the daily reminder from the looking glass that I am a long way from the fresh-faced youth whose visage once greeted me of a morn. My appearance might slightly belie my age, but not by 30 years! How has this illusion of passing for gilded youth persisted despite the all-too frequent reminders of the true state of affairs? Will a part of me still be labouring under this delusion if and when I hit 60, 70, 80…?
I feel I should offer a blanket apology to the young for continuing to act as if I were one of their number. I shall work harder to update my self-image to something a little more consistent with reality.