The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, September, 1922
(1) Auditor of the Basket-ball Club.
Abstracted and bespectacled he arose from behind a mass of papers. He appeared to have been wallowing in figures—columns of figures on innumerable account-sheets, piles of figures on vouchers and cash-books, pages of figures in ledgers and receipt-books, figures scribbled on the blotting-pad, on the morning paper, on the back of envelopes, everywhere; and even very attractive figures in the pictures on the Avails. One was of the Garden of Eden, in which he was, I suppose, the adder.
He was ruminating on these figures all the while he spoke to me—a dry nervous old man wizened with cares and stooping in a methodical kind of way, under his load of responsibilities.
"The books," he whisered confidentially, "have been causing me a deal of anxiety. Not that they are badly kept—not at all; the big girlish handwriting, if not very neat, is certainly extremely legible. But they raise many very difficult questions which I have to clear up before I can grant my certificate. For instance, there's the value of the assets. The chief item is four gym. skirts and three yellow scarves (rather tattered) which the Treasurer values at 3s. 11 ½d. She says that is the sale price at Kirk's. I think, however, I should put them down at 4s. 5d., because the sale finished the day before the Club's financial year.
"Then the Treasurer spent 4d. on postage stamps and failed to get a receipt for it. How can I be expected to certify that the money was really expended? And, if I refuse to certify, can I permit her to pay 4d. into the bank account, and call the matter square? You will appreciate the difficulties that beset the matter. Now in the leading case of Brook v. Mason," he turned towards his book-shelves,"the judges decided by two to one—"
But I am a law student, and dislike authorities. Before he turned round again I had glided from the room.
(2) Secretary of the Students' Association.
We met with a bump, but luckily I'm a footballer and escaped serious damage. It was on the Gym. pathway; the Great Man was in a violent hurry. But when I asked him if he could spare a moment, he said, "Oh, yes! I'm only training," and informed me that he hoped some day to be a great cross-country runner, and ran everywhere on principle. I murmured something about more worlds to conquer, and those who fought and ran away; but the G.M. had got his wind back, and I bowed before the storm.
"Yes, running grows upon one. When I was a child, I used to run wild. Now I run up against the Prof. Board, I run away from Garrow's class-tests, I run after the girls, I run short of cash and page 26 into debt, I run amuck at Stud. Ass. meetings, but I can't run a Capping Procession. However, I might learn to later on.
"If the authorities had known a good man when they saw one, they would have trained me with Tracy and Skipper R. for the Irish Olympiad. They should have seen at once that I could run the whole bally show. As it is I have to confine my energies to Executive meetings.. When there's any chance of talking there, my especially V, is equal to anything, for no one else has a hope of having a
"For example, there's 'The Spike'—has the impudence to let other people talk, and to publish it without my saying whether I agree with it. Naturally I sat on the Editor—until I found he was a member of the Executive and could vote against me.
"Again there was the trouble about the Capping Procession. Why on earth the Prof. Board should want to do anything, I don't know. Can't I do everything for them? Can't I talk to and at and about everybody as well as they can? As a matter of fact I'm even better at that than I am at running. That's why they elected me to the Exec."
It was about here that my third fountain pen ran dry. I struggled—but vainly—against the swirling torrent of words, and woke up three hours later in the gorse bushes beside the path.
(3) The Secretary of the Professorial Cricket Club.
A jovial face, a pair of pince-nez, and a benevolent waistcoat; a voice that "piped and whistled in his sound,"as no doubt it should do, being a good Scotch voice and fitted for shrilling the pibroch of its clan. He informed me that the club had just been founded, but was enabled to buy materials through a grant from the Students' Association. It had been resolved that members might play on Sundays—except during: the cricket season. Moreover they would not play on Sunday rooming, because Mr. Parr and Mr. Potter went to church, and might not be able to watch over them.
Although the Club was a young one there was every prospect of its putting a capable side in the field. He himself filled the dual position of secretary and wicketkeep. It was thought impossible that he should he missed by even so erratic a bowler as Prof. P. W. R, and when Prof. R. bowled la hallo, as Prof. B.—W. would say. "s'Élance avec une vÉlocitÉ terrible." Under these circumstances he paid great attention to his diet, and refrained from strenuous practice at the nets.
The chief slogger was Prof. B.—W., who usually opened with Prof. B. The latter had been appointed point since he always adopted the proper standpoint. They had a fine left-hand bowler in Prof. B. E. M. whose delivery was most dramatic. It was per-haps rendered more so by Prof. K. dropping worms on the pitch while the opposition batted. So that the batsmen might not notice anything, the latter fielded at silly mid-on. Prof, C. generally fielded in the country; his favourite study was the stone-wall game.
They had placed Prof. G. at short-slip, because he was always trying to catch somebody. At first he had demurred to playing page 27 when the wind was blowing, pleading that the right to fresh air had been abolished in New Zealand since 1894 and in his class-room since he first commenced to lecture; but he was finally persuaded to come and argue interpretations of the rules with anyone who eared to listen. He combined very well with the demon bowler of his side, Prof. A., whose googlies would have puzzled Justinian himself and kept the opposition in a state of continual blockade. The team was completed by Prof. E. M., who was a shacking bat but a livewire in the field, and Prof. F. P. W. whose easy nonchalance in glancing and cutting evoked the applause of all beholders.
Prof. S. scored with commendable accuracy. Prof. H., who would act as umpire, was instructed to have an optical illusion whenever there was an appeal for run out or leg before. Mr. J. S. Brook would report everything.
I thanked him for his valuable information, and expressed the hope that "The Spike" would be able to record many deeds of derring-do by members of the team. I again thanked him, and withdrew.
(4) The Women's Vice-President.
"If it takes a Professor and four mathematics students thirty days to make a model of an icosahedron projected into the fourth dimension, how many x's will a y's student incur in arranging the Sydney Footballers' Dance?…"
The lady was soliloquising. Far be it from me to interrupt the tender dreams of youth, and for a moment I paused irresolute. At the same moment—it must have been a Bolshevist germ from the Russian Relief clothing—something caught in my throat, and I coughed. Immediately the soliloquy ceased, and a seraphic smile of sunshine seemed to Light upon the room.
"Oh, there you are then!" said the seraph, "I've been expecting you. You're from 'The Spike,' aren't you. Fine invigorating little mag.—reminds me of 'The Girls' Own Paper.' Well, I suppose I have to tell you all about myself.
"The chief passion of my life has always been mathematics. When I was very, very small," she sighed, "I knew all those pretty songs about five little nigger-boys and ten little dicky-birds. I was so fond of the counting in them. I used to go to all the football matches and add up all the 'Varsity scores; I knew all about Balaam's ass because he was in the Book of Numbers and I did low cheques and things for the figures on them. I still like checks," she added wittily.
"As T grew older I found the craze got gradually worse. I would buy a dozen speckled oranges, and work out the latitude and longitude of every speck. I tried to plot the graph of a saveloy revolving in the air…"
I had intended to ask some questions about making Carnival costumes and how one might stop out late from the Women's Hostel, but unfortunately it was four o'clock and I was led to understand that the seraphic smile then bestowed itself on Mrs. Brook's tea-room.