When you find yourself in new climes, dear Reader, is essential to get to remember the names of those who will be your new colleagues.
‘But how?’, you wail. ‘My mental capacity is all used up on 1990s pop trivia’.
Dear Reader, let me lead by example.
As I write, I am striding purposefully alongside the CEO of the University’s Taizhou Branch, Jade (cf. Sade, not the Marquis de), who has kindly offered to take me on a tour of the campus.
I remember that her name is Jade because her badge tells me it is so.
What a beautiful morning it is here in Taizhou, dear Reader, as Jade pulls the ivy-covered, creaking gate of the Remembering Garden towards us.
High above us, a large bird circles.
I point it out to Jade.
‘Vulture’, she mutters, glancing at me.
Dear Reader, Jade is proving to be a sharp judge of character.
We proceed further until we arrive at the heart of the Remembering Garden – a vast bamboo folly, its crenellations decorated with horses’ heads.
Jade points towards its murky interior. ‘Here’, she says, ‘is the Ern’.
Dear Reader. I step inside the folly.
Before me I see a lurid blue bench, a wheelbarrow, and stretched out on it, a small, grumpy looking individual dressed in rags.
I stride forward, hand outstretched. ‘Delighted to meet you, my dear Ern’, I say, loudly and confidently.
The figure looks at me.
‘I am Lu-Seal’, she says. ‘Deputy Under-Gardener and Vice-Janitor. You have disturbed my tea-break’.
‘But who, then, is Ern?’, I say.
Jade appears silently at my side. She points next to Lu-Seal’s wheelbarrow. There, each on a little marble pedestal, stand four jars.
‘Ming?’, I say.
‘Urn’, says Jade.
Dear Reader. I approach the Urns.
‘Please meet your predecessors, Dr Lamb’, says Jade. ‘Pro-Vice-Chancellor 2010-2011, Pro-Vice-Chancellor 2011-2012, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor 2012-2013’.
‘How delightful to meet the Urns at last’, I say. ‘And this fourth jar, dear Jade?’
‘It is empty’, says Jade, ‘so far’.