I am on a barge being pulled along the mighty Yangtze River by fifty imperial swans.
Beside me sits Shǎn liàng (aka Shiny), purring as she kneads the damask cushions embroidered with the insignia of the UWL* in Taizhou.
Before me stand three adoring courtiers sent by the Son of Heaven (Sir Basil), holding bamboo fronds aloft to shade my sensitive western eyes from the unforgiving rays of the oriental sun.
Behind me, in a subordinate barge, is Darren from IT, wearing a worried expression and his best Iron Maiden T-shirt. But will I be able to plug in my laptop, he wails, at the celestial court?
I close my eyes.
A coolie wearing a paper hat offers me a cocktail glass of the finest rosewater. The ice-cubes clink, while along the banks of the river peasants bow low.
I recline, opening my pristine copy of Said’s Orientalism, searching in vain for the lost chapter on China, when young Billy Wells (year abroad, BA Runeology and Mandarin) strikes the heavenly gong.
Life is good, dear Reader. I am looking forward to the Autumn term.
*Re-branded this summer, dear Reader, as the University of the World of Laminate, to avoid any claims of general fraudulence.