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That's me on your wall!

The Certificate, rather wrinkly now (like its owner)
Just occasionally a coincidence happens that really takes you by surprise. Many years ago, while I was doing my MA at Lancaster University, I went round for a coffee to the room of someone I had lived virtually next door to in Rochdale, but hadn't seen since I was 15.

It was typical university halls accommodation, livened up a little by a few posters on the wall. One of these posters made me nearly drop my cup of coffee. 'You do realize,' I said, 'you've got my picture on your wall.' He didn't believe me initially, but he had.

A year or so before, while a Cambridge undergraduate, I had taken part in a rag stunt that involved raiding a whole series of lectures. We descended on them, held the lecturer up with water pistols, announced we were the British Board of Lecture Censors and collected a 'registration fee' from the students. We then left a rating certificate on the blackboard. The lecturers were surprisingly nice about this, and several took the certificates home as souvenirs - but some left them behind, and my friend at Lancaster, who had been at on one of the Cambridge lectures we hit, snaffled the certificate at the end of lecture.

What he hadn't noticed is that there was a section in the bottom left hand corner referring to 'Our sponsor, Mrs Ethel Trappit.' When the arty type who put the certificate together had wanted a picture of 'our sponsor' he had, for some reason, used a shot of me looking very gormless with a bottle of Newcastle Brown in hand. When I saw the prototype of the certificate I had objected, as I hadn't been consulted and didn't particularly want to be Mrs Ethel Trappit - so the word 'censored' was put across my photo, but I was still on there. I later saw the funny side, and appeared in the lecture censoring jaunts as Mrs Trappit, thanks to some clothes provided by a member of the Newnham College Rowing Club (don't ask).

And so there I was, hanging on the wall in Lancaster of someone who had no idea that this was a picture of a one-time neighbour.


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