UCU Strike Poems 4 -Things I Learned at University, by Kate Bingham

Things I Learned at University

How to bike on cobblestones and where to signal right.
How to walk through doors held by Old Etonians
and not scowl. How to make myself invisible in seminars
by staring at the table. How to tell Victorian Gothic from Medieval.
How to eat a Mars bar in the Bodleian. When to agree
with everything in theory. How to cultivate a taste for sherry.

Where to bike on the pavement after dark. How to sabotage a hunt.
When to sunbathe topless in the Deer Park. When to punt.
How to hitch a lift and when to walk and where to run.
When not to address my tutors formally. How to laugh at Latin puns
and when to keep quiet and preserve my integrity.
How to celebrate an essay crisis. When to sleep through fire alarms.

How to bike no-handed, how to slip a condom on with one.
When to smoke a joint and when to swig champagne.
When to pool a tip and how to pull a pint. A bit of history.
When to listen to friends and whether to take them seriously.
At the same time how to scorn tradition and enjoy it.
How to live like a king, quite happily, in debt.

Kate Bingham, from Cohabitation (Seren, 1998)


The university that I work for is currently in conflict with the union that I belong to, the UCU, over Universities UK’s (UUK) proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

This has resulted in lecturers like me taking strike action.

You can read more about the reasons some of us have for taking this action here and here.

For the next few days of strike action I am going to be posting poems on my blog whose subject matter is the world of work and/or education.

On this sixth day of strike action we read Things I Learned at University, by Kate Bingham.


You can follow the #USSStrike hashtag on Twitter here and the #UCUStrike hashtag here.

If you can take the time to retweet or share this poem via social media I would be so grateful.


The views posted in this blog are mine alone and do not represent those of my employer.

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