Last week I was invited to the swankiest academic dinner offered to me since I graduated from my first place of higher education. And, for the first time since then, it seemed to be free-of-charge. Naturally, I filled out the faxback form straight away and, er, faxed it back. Having achieved fuck-all since I left, it seemed pretty unlikely that they would be sending me two stiffies, one from the college I dropped out of and scraped back into and the other from the faculty that I turned my back on. But I had recently bumped into and chatted with the guest of honour in another context and figured that this encounter had had something to do with my getting on the guest list. I’d be more specific about the bash, but there were security warnings on the invites (which probably means that every Fellow of the Royal Society, the local police force, all staff at the relevant college and departments and all of al-Qaeda’s UK agents already have maps of the venues’ ventilation systems).

Then, yesterday evening, I also received the first written apology I have ever had from my alma mater since I graduated. Apparently they had omitted to tell me that the whole do was fifty quid a head and, although it would be nice if I could make a donation, they couldn’t really ask me for the money now, after such an unfortunate misunderstanding. That was an expensive mistake for them to have made, and some poor functionary had probably had an almighty bollocking for it. I reflected on the cost and embarrassment it was going to cause them and on how ungracious it would seem if I didn’t make some kind of financial gesture.

Then I thought about my miserable years there, the inept lecturing, the absence of any syllabus, the braying ninnies and faux-poor Lefty arsewipes surrounding me, the snobbery, the waste, the having to crack the ice in the toilet bowl in winter because I was housed on “comprehensive kids row” and thought: “Bugger that. Mine’s a large glass of your best port. Any chance of another bit of pheasant for my doggie bag?”