Sunday, June 5, 2011

Offending everyone through narrative: 'I bet the book didn't expect that'

- Chris Stephens

Sadly, we’re now pretty much done with UEA. We’re in Europe for a couple of weeks before a final return to Norwich for about two days, just to move out of campus accommodation. In light of this melancholy conclusion, I thought I’d share an anecdote from end of semester: the time Robert Perry threw Samuel Glass’s book in the lake.

It was the due date of everyone’s final assessments and dissertations and, after submission, a congregation materialised outside the Arts building, some of the constituents of which had arranged a lakeside barbecue.

A few drinks later, Perry arrived, flanked by a pair of his cronies. They bore with them a drawer, the origins of which remain unknown to this day, upon which they planned to surf the lake.

Probably after a further few drinks, Perry spotted the fluorescent green Penguin Classics edition on the ground next to Sam.

‘Is that a book?’ he demanded.

‘It is,’ Sam replied levelly. ‘It’s Great Expectations.’

‘Did you bring a book to a barbecue?’

‘Not to read, I just bought it before we came.’

But Perry wouldn’t listen to sense. He had fire in his eyes. ‘That book is going in the lake,’ he declared.

Not easily cowed, Sam, still seated behind his book, met the eyes of his detractor, replying, ‘No it’s not.’

Like a massively overdeveloped, predatory child, Perry insisted, ‘Yes it is,’ holding Sam’s gaze as he advanced. But the ocular challenge was merely a ploy, under the guise of which Perry was able to get close enough to the book to snatch it away, like Gollum with the ring. Off he danced towards the water, clutching his prize. Sam and the rest of us followed him to the dock where there was a final confrontation.

‘You’re not going to throw that book in the lake, Rob,’ said Sam.

But he did just that, gleeful in his defiance.

‘You’re going to swim out and get that,’ said Sam.

‘Am I?’ Rob asked, probably weighing the emasculation of submitting to Sam against the adventure of complying with him. Perhaps realising the challenge constituted an opportunity ‘to divest himself of his shirt’ as David Stratton said of Zac Efron, Perry indicated that he would, indeed (with the aid of the drawer) retrieve the book, which was now natant, cover spread and pages splayed, about ten metres into the broad like a facedown corpse.

Minutes after bounding into the water like a golden retriever, Perry had hurled the sodden tome at the spectators onshore with great force. Once he himself had emerged triumphant from the water, however, he couldn’t help but throw it back in after being taunted by Sam about his proposed project, Rob Perry's: The Dark Side of Beauty.

Having undergone two such ordeals, the book was judged by Sam to now be irreparably damaged and not worth a second retrieval. By the end of the day, Jew that he is (racial slur racial slur), he had extorted from Perry a total of one pound and sixty pence in compensation, the remainder of the two pound value of the book and punitive damages made up in a further good memory and the below photograph of said memory (should also mention Sam comes from a family of lawyers):

 Come think of it, he is kind of Aryan ... Perhaps this is the new Nazi alternative to book burning.
(Picture stolen from Sam's Facebook without permission)

And that’s the story of the time Perry threw Sam’s book in the lake. And now, once a year on the 28th of May, young people everywhere commemorate Sam’s sacrifice by wearing masks of his likeness and drinking. Not really, though. That’s just what we happened to do when we went out on the 28th of May. Hilarity ensued.

Perry re-enacts his crime.

You can read more of Perry's hilarious exploits at his blog, Experimenting with Blogs, which are usually a bit shit. And picking holes in popular culture., and Sam's insightful blog is Appomattox.

No comments:

Post a Comment