The University Of Life

They failed me at The University of Life;
they did it by degrees. There were dean
and proctor, and they hauled me out,
a lecture on the fictions of existence
burning my bushy ears. I went quietly.

I learned the hard way, with my hands up.
Each afternoon I trailed my satchel
wistfully through the high, sacerdotal
oaken doors. I combed the reference books
back into an outsize academic quiff.

They scrolled me up like a parchment,
stuck my swollen head through the local
portcullis. It was armorial. I wedged
the rest of my time there, hearing feet
people the pavement, passing over.

It was unfair, frankly. While the extras
milled on the set of Harder Knocks,
I was shoved clucking into the kiss
of a minster spinster, wiping warm dust
from my chapped and half-charred lips.

I could have built bridges, motorways,
thronged the concourse with some abstruse
curses to pester my pupils with. I wouldn't
have got where I am today without being
failed by the fellows. Pass the port.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday