Learning at Oxford, LIFE, and Gloucestershire universities
‘You are what you learn.’ This is the theme of Hairy College Codger, the working title of my light-hearted autobiographical story. It features the hindsight of a man who did a second degree fifty years after gaining his first. Its narrative is a collection of standalone, but linked, short stories. These include: learning to swim from a one-legged teacher; hours of detention in American Immigration, suspected of being Saddam Hussein; competing in the Munich Olympics when terrorists struck; and struggling to survive in a foreign land. The book suggests that learning is a fascinating – and varied — lifelong, and life-prolonging, process:
“In the 1980s, my boss expected me to join him eating cheese and pate lunches most working days. After several attempts to persuade him to adopt less stodgy, more heart-healthy food, I tried the fashionable phrase: ‘You are what you eat.’ My boss’s reply: ‘Oh yes, and I only eat wonderful things.’
I latched on to that ‘logic’ — which for me meant that I was becoming like my food — stodgy and fat. So lunchtime became an hour’s walk, punctuated by eating one light, healthy sandwich.”
Much later, with my memory roaming free for autobiographical stories, I remembered that lunchtime dialogue, and adapted it for the book’s theme.