I am outside the SCR.
Inside, dear Reader, I hear another bang. I place my ear to the door.
Dear Reader. I hear cries and whoops. There is some sort of party going on.
I push open the door.
There, kneeling before a stout figure in black robes with a filigree lace trim, is Professor Mise. I watch as a tricorn is placed on her head and she is lifted high on the shoulders of Rose Madder, Salty Bob, Fu, Janice, and Darren. Freya is waving a jeroboam of champagne, and there is another bang as the champagne cork flies through the air.
‘Long live our new pro-Vice-Chancellor!’, cries Salty. There are more whoops and tears, and triumphant, ululating singing.
I step into the room, dear Reader.
I clear my throat.
My staff stop carousing, dear Reader, apart from Lu-Seal, who continues to sing the last verse of ‘what shall we do with the drunken sailor’, holding her mop high in the air while performing the can-can.
Then, as if in slow motion, the figure in the lacy robes turns towards me.
‘Put ’im in the longboat until he’s sober’, trails off Lu-Seal.
I incline my head graciously, and advance, my arm outstretched.
‘Welcome’, I say. ‘Dear, dear Ser Basil. What a pleasure it is to see you here at last’.
Dear Basil and I look at each other for a long moment.
‘Give us the room’, he says, not taking his eyes off me.
‘Earl-ay in the morning’, whispers Lu-Seal, as she, Mise, Rose Madder, Fu, Salty, Freya, Janice and Darren shuffle outside, taking their jeroboam with them.