The View from the Lodge by Alan James

These are the reminiscences of a Cambridge College Porter, all the more remarkable for being true, with only some of the names and places changed in the tradition of discretion.

Through Eric, we capture a hilarious glimpse of a college's life from its true custodians, the porters. Cambridge porters exist at the fluid boundaries between the worlds of the tourists, the students and Fellows. Their life is therefore full of the unexpected and often bizarre as they manfully guard the continued existence of their college.

Consequently, it takes a special kind of person to become a porter. You might be dealing with a ticking parcel on one occasion and a famous Hollywood actress the next. In Eric's case, his unique qualities also included a predisposition to being absent minded and accident prone.

We see how Eric learnt to adopt a philosophical and good humoured approach to his affliction - if mishaps such as exploding coffins were going to happen, and in his case they usually did, then this was simply due to fate.

The one positive outcome from Eric's constant calamities and the unique nature of his fellow porters was that it often led to the most amusing situations.

The occasionally surreal anecdotes within this book describe events that actually occurred - proving that truth is often stranger than fiction. Read on!

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Book extract:


On looking out of the Lodge window onto the street outside, the porters would often see a young man walking by who was definitely a little odd. He wore a long black coat and always had a fish on his head...a real one! Nobody knew why he chose that particular headgear but you can imagine that he wasn’t too popular with those who had to sit next to him in lectures especially in early summer when he would emit the most pungent fishy smells.

Godesone Hall had its very own odd ball....possibly an eccentric in the making, or perhaps not. He was a dumpy little fellow who took to wearing spectacles that had pipe cleaners protruding from the frame. This was strange enough in itself, but when his father arrived at the college to take him home at the end of term, he too was a dumpy little fellow with pipe cleaners protruding from his spectacles. This affliction seemed to be hereditary but fortunately wasn’t contagious.

Some years earlier, there was a woman who used to walk around Cambridge with a plastic bucket on her head. She wore a yellow bucket in summer and a blue bucket in winter. No one ever saw her face because it was always covered by a bucket. At one time there was a University professor known to many as “Snippy.” He acquired this nickname because he had a “thing” about holly bushes. Whenever he came across one, he couldn’t resist the urge to produce a pair of scissors from his pocket and snip a piece off. Many a time as a gardener working close to Clare College’s Memorial Court, Eric would observe Snippy strolling along Burrell’s Walk and hear the familiar “snip” as yet another piece of holly fell victim to his scissors. Eric was once told that an undergraduate was taking a walk through the Fellows’ garden at Trinity College when he heard the intermittent sound of snipping. Since it was early on a summer’s evening and the gardeners would have long departed, he decided to investigate. On reaching the boundary of the lawn, he got down on his hands and knees so that he could crawl through the undergrowth in pursuit of the snipping. After a while, as the sound got louder, he came across Snippy crawling in the opposite direction whilst clutching a pair of scissors. When they virtually bumped into each other, they exchanged greetings, and crawled past one another as though creeping around in the undergrowth was as natural as walking along a street. 


Publishing information

ISBN: 9780956264985
Title: View from the Lodge, A
Format: Paperback
Published: 21/12/2011
Author: James, Alan
Availability: in print/stock
Price: £9.99
Publisher Milton Contact Limited
Distributor Milton Contact Limited
Primary Publisher BIC: BM - Memoirs
Supplementary Publisher BIC: WH - Humour
Publisher BIC Qualifiers: 1DBKEAC - Cambridgeshire/3JJP - c 1945 to c 2000 (Post-war period)/
Dimensions: 234mm x 156mm
Spine: 14mm
Pages: 224
Weight: 398g
Rights: Worldwide : Exclusive
Nielsen BookData BIC subject: BM - Memoirs
Nielsen BookData BIC subject 2: WH - Humour
Nielsen BookData BIC qualifiers: 1DBKEAC - Cambridgeshire/3JJP - c 1945 to c 2000 (Post-war period)/
Additional Format: Perfect Bound