Thursday, 8 July 2010

Some Sage Advice For Students

This week's sentence was taken from 'Barchester Towers', by Anthony Trollope.

The sentence was:
'There was nothing poetic in the nature of Mrs Quiverful.'

Some Sage Advice For Students

It is an immutable law of the educational universe that all colleges possess a Mrs Quiverful. She will usually be found tucked away in some dusty room at the end of a little-used corridor, lying in wait like a vast, baggy spider in tweed skirt and cardigan for the unwary student to get just a little bit too curious.
Indeed it is in just such a room at the end of just such a corridor that we find the subject of our own cautionary tale.

There was nothing poetic in the nature of Mrs Quiverful. That at any rate had been the confirmed opinion of all who survived the sequential sensations of initial amusement, increasingly concerned confusion, sudden alarmed realisation and final crushing despair that comprised her creative poetry classes. How she had managed to obtain her professorship in the first place was a topic of much fevered debate among the traumatised few who made it through the academic year.

Yet there she was, and there, it seemed forever, she would stay. Over the decades Mrs Quiverful’s classes produced a string of highly successful accountants, bankers, insurance brokers, politicians and the like, whose generous donations to the college ensured her sinecure.
That there was nary a poet, nor indeed a single person with a scintilla of creativity, conscience or compassion among her old students went regrettably unnoticed. As did the fact that those particular professions adopted by Mrs Quiverful's creative poetry graduates held in common the peculiar requirement that a successful practitioner possess no poetic soul.

Yet such creatures are not born soulless. It is a truth self-evident that no sane person would ever aspire to a career in say politics, banking or insurance. None but the deranged and psychopathic would choose to work in marketing or HR.
No, these people are born as normal as you or me, but at some point in their formative years have fallen victim to a Mrs Quiverful and have had their souls torn screaming from their bodies and sucked straight down to Hell.

It is Mrs Quiverful who is responsible for the plague on the world that is the suffering caused by the Soulless Professions. For this is where we get the condemned: those pitiless proto-dæmons who stalk the earth spreading misery and despair among the living before taking up their pitchforks to torment poor sinners in the afterlife.
This is where bankers come from. This is where Big Oil comes from. This is where we get the agrichemical industry, personal injury lawyers, political lobbyists, waterboarders, Republicans, junk food, arms dealers and daytime TV.
This is Hell on earth.

So, dear student, be wary of that seemingly simple course of lectures, of that dusty and obscure corridor, of that nice, tweedy old lady with the twinkle in her eye. Be ever watchful for Mrs Quiverful.
Should you doubt me, simply look into the eyes of an insurance salesman and witness the horror within.
Then turn and run.
Run as fast as you can.

6 comments:

Vanda said...

"It is a truth self-evident that no sane person would ever aspire to a career in say politics, banking or insurance. None but the deranged and psychopathic would choose to work in marketing or HR."

You're such an idealist!

dive said...

One has to dream, Vanda.

Besides, I seriously doubt any of those people are sane. I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck in a lift with one.

MmeBenaut said...

Fascinating! I like the bit about the success of a poet being dependent upon his having no soul (to paraphrase just a bit). You are indeed an idealist Dive and that's why we love you.

dive said...

Hee hee, Mme. I had my own Mrs Quiverful back at college and she almost set me on a path to a successful career in advertising. Luckily I realised that I would have to lose my soul along with any sense of decency or honour and managed a desperate career U-turn at the last moment.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

How could I POSSIBLY have missed this piece of genius over the summer?? You are brilliant, my dear, and you must know that. I love the academic voice you put on as smoothly as Ms. Quiverful would put on a girdle.

dive said...

Oh, my, Katherine; the image of Mrs. Quiverful in naught but a girdle will haunt my nightmares for ever.
You are too kind about this story. It's a terrible piece of writing but it does seem to capture my thoughts on bankers pretty well.