Eccentric Cambridge

02-03-2014 Sunday

Some people go to church on Sunday, we go to Cambridge to see an aunt I didn’t know I had. Maybe it’s because Mum is a Protestant and Dad is an atheist. I don’t know what that makes me, a pro-atheist? Luckily my aunt turned out to be very friendly. She said I could call her Auntie D. That is, as you’ve probably guessed, short for Didymus. She kind of reminded me of the female version of Mr Bent. She was definitely older than Dad and a lot wiser and friendlier. All the time we spent together I kept thinking how it was possible that this lovely lady was Dad’s sister. They looked (and still look) nothing alike. Wish I had her instead of Dad. Two Mums doesn’t sound so bad.
Cambridge is a wonderful town and you should really visit it if you haven’t. When I grow old I might want to move there. Compared to London it is quiet, homely and small, though with all the colleges there and students, it can get crowded. Auntie D. said to mind the three B’s: bikes, buses and bollards. (dear classmates, notice how buses is spelled with only one s, just saying). The students here are not allowed to drive cars, because it would be hell on earth if those thousands of students were to drive to college in a car. There is just no room for so many cars, there’s hardly enough room for all those students. That is why everybody cycles around here. Except for Auntie D. Auntie D. has got a bad hip and needs a cane to walk. She does have a tricycle, but she says that thing is not meant for people to ride on. ‘twould be the death of me,’ she said in a rather posh voice. Mind you, Auntie D. is far from posh. She is one of the most down to earth grown-ups I have ever met in my short little life.
First thing we did when we arrived was eat. Auntie D. had made some lovely lentil soup with lots of garlic in it. Also, she had baked her own bread to go with it. Then she showed us her house and I was happy to see she had so many books and a lovely white cat (not Ivor) that was asleep on top of some of the books. There were pictures of her friends and relatives on every wall. The kitchen was stuffed with kitchen-aids, cuttlery, pots, pans, spices, herbs, cans, jars, teas, cups, plates, mugs, and so, and so on. There was more stuff than the cupboards and shelves could hold and hide. This woman does not need a house; she needs a kitchen the size of a house.
Then she took us on a Cambridge tour. This woman is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to knowing things about Cambridge. She has stories to tell about almost all the buildings and the famous people who lived in this town. It was too much for me to remember everything, but I had taken my camera with me, so I took some pictures and she gave me her email address. Plus, Mum bought a book for me called Eccentric Cambridge. Auntie D. advised me to get it and she said that I could email her if I wanted to know anything, especially if it was about ghost stories, because they were her favourite as well.
Exactly how eccentric is Cambridge? Very eccentric. Students pull a lot of pranks in Cambridge. You would have thought they’d be busy studying all day, but it seems they have enough time to come up with crazy pranks. They once put an entire car on top of one of the colleges and I believe they suspended one from a bridge, as well. Henry VIII’s sceptre has been replaced by numerous other objects: like an umbrella and the leg of a chair. They are tons of ghost stories and this was the famous Hobson’s hometown. Hobson is the guy from the saying Hobson’s Choice. Which means, no choice at all; either take it or leave it. They also named the smelliest passage in the whole of England after him, which is Hobson’s Passage. Poor Hobson; he was so rich and influential but is mostly remembered in non-flattering ways. There is however, also Hobson’s Conduit, which I found to be rather … dull.
There is absolutely, positively more to say on Cambridge and Auntie D., but I guess it will have to wait till another time. After we arrived home I was still wondering what happened to Dad that made him the sourpuss he is today and I think it will keep me up all night. His sister is such a wonderful lady. I will ask her in an email what happened to Dad. She’ll probably know. That is it for now. I’m putting up some pictures on Facebook a.s.a.p. See me tomorrow.


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