The Fellow of the UL Tower

We all know that the UL is probably haunted; but is this something to be scared of? Mystery columnist Melbury thinks that we have nothing to fear. Are you convinced?

‏‏‎ ‎ Melbury

"It is my lot to give to you the unadulterated truth, dear reader, and that is what follows"

Have you ever looked closely at our beloved UL tower? Besides it being designed by the phonebox fellow, a fact that it’s in no way shy about, I have come to understand that its most interesting feature is the great secret that wanders within. The mathematicians and scientists say it hides storage and administrative supplies, because they are sensible. The ASNCs say ’tis a dragon found there, because of course they do. A source close to Melbury, Camdotack Dotyoukay, claims that it is used to house the Tower collection, because it is the most infernal spin doctor to be found on these fens. No, my dear readers – I bring revelation in tow, for what truly dwells within the UL tower, is a person.

“A person? Boring. He should have written about the dragon”, says the critic in my head. And I can almost see what that nefarious character is getting at, for as you will know (unless you’re a fresher or an engineer), it is not entirely uncommon to see people inside the University Library. But it is my lot to give to you the unadulterated truth, dear reader, and that is what follows.

"It is my lot to give to you the unadulterated truth"

Lately, a first-year Valencian found her way into the UL amidst its closure, in search of books and a quiet place to study. She worked so intently that afternoon that she quite forgot the hour – after what seemed an instant, she looked up to find dusk was falling, and her illicit passageway into the building was now impassably locked. She was stuck for the night.

The UL is hardly the most comforting place to find oneself in for the evening, so our adventurer could’ve been forgiven for panicking. But she remained perfectly calm. The situation was not ideal, but prelims loomed, and her imprisonment could be made into an opportunity. She made her way to the South Wing, hoping to take advantage of the volumes she couldn’t find online. Duly she did so, working hard until in the early hours, when at last her avid schedule of revision caught up to her mind, and she was dragged into sleep.

But our adventurer did not wake up in the South Wing where she studied. As her heavy eyes lifted, she looked around, terrified by unfamiliar surroundings – in front of her were five tall, slim windows through which the eerie moonlight shone on her new desk. Where on earth was she?

“Don’t worry”, came a voice from behind. “You find yourself in the Tower, and I am its Fellow.”

"Her fortitude held, though – and how very admirably!"

As I’m sure you can imagine, our adventurer was a little disturbed by this surprise. Her fortitude held, though – and how very admirably! I would have screamed my cowardly little head off, but the only symptom shown by our protagonist was speechlessness. Detecting this, the Fellow went on:

“I’m sorry to have startled you. I’m rather startled myself! I only ever see the staff in the Tower, and even then, rarely – how did you get in here? Well, never mind that. It has been a quiet few months, so I shan’t banish your society if you’re willing to provide it.”

"In front of her were five tall, slim windows through which the eerie moonlight shone on her new desk"

Though the scene so far appeared sinister, our adventurer turned to look at the Fellow and was pleasantly surprised. She found no villain, but an antique fellow, frame almost hidden behind his great beard, with the most benevolent countenance she could imagine.

“So why is it, young fresher”, said the Fellow, sitting down slowly, relying heavily on his stick, “that you remain in the library at such a dreadful hour?”

The adventurer gave her account: a miserable year, with miserable exams yet to come. But worst of all was an ailment many of us know intimately:

“The pressure is too much! Everyone seems to be on top of things, and I can hardly keep up. My college alone has Pitt and Fleming to its name, never mind the rest of the Uni – how can I live up to that?”, said our dear imposter. But this, despite its severity, turned the Fellow’s constant soft smile into a kindly chuckle, which flowed into kindly advice.


Mountain View

”The Boots Meal Deal is the highlight of my time at Cambridge”

“I remember, in days when my Tower was under construction, a humble young Warwickshire lad, frantically pouring over Ovid. Just as clearly, I can still see the first son of an Earl, back when this library received but seven-hundred volumes a year, confounded by the Principia. Your melancholy has been shared by millions, and overcome by almost as many.”

“But some people overcome it better than others! A few people, even just from my four years, will gone on to be truly great – to be remembered.”, our adventurer replied. The wise Tower Fellow chuckled again.

“Quite so! But the same could be said of parliament, and I’ve never seen such rowdy buggers. You may not top your tripos, my dear, but many with a far lesser spirit as yourself have managed the average at least. That you can squarely achieve, even if you break in to no more libraries.”

They chatted for some hours more, but this, dear reader, will have to do for a short account of he who truly dwells within the UL Tower. Be sure to wave to him next time you pass – it has been a terribly quiet year for him. I find it a comfort to think that he is there, with his soft, benevolent smile, keeping watch of things. I daresay he’s wishing you all well for this upcoming exam season. In that wish, I will certainly be joining him.