Tucked away at the bottom of his supervisor’s Hillary term review was a short description of his teaching that term. His supervisor had described him as ‘relaxed.’ Considering the sort of tension he experienced when teaching was so intense that only metaphors involving foot-pounds of torque would capture the sense of it, reading that someone saw that performance as ‘relaxed’ was a genuine shock.

Teaching was always a performance, exhausting and painful, but necessary. He did not think that he was that good an actor. Or maybe he was just that good a lair.

[Probably from Oxford Nior, but maybe from something else I read recently. Not sure, my memory isn’t what it once was.}


“Il est avoyer quex chose ydyot poit faire.”


As he listened to the Warden address the fellows, the words of Sir John Port drifted to mind:
“Every idiot is a fool, not having discretion. But not every fool is an idiot.”*


* This, and the title, come to Oxford Noir, by way of Sir J. H. Baker, ed. The Notebook of Sir John Port, Selden Society vol. 102 (London: Selden Society, 1986), 131.