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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929

2.—President of the Students' Soviet

2.—President of the Students' Soviet.

I Stood on my head, gyrated three times, turned my back to the door, and tapped upon it timidly with my heel. Stealthy feet sounded within and I followed in imagination their owner as he took down the bar, drew the bolt, unfastened the chain and turned key after key in the series of padlocks designed to hinder the careless from bursting in upon the sacred sessions of the Stud. Ass. Executive. Then the door opened half-an-inch and a cold eye peered interrogation at me.

"Three sheets of notepaper at eightpence. Please—" I timidly commenced. The eye gave way to an ear.

"Are you sitting on that notepaper, Bill?" came a voice.

"— and an interview with the President," I concluded.

"Crow!" yelled the voice. "Here's another nut after information."

"Fair dinkum?" I heard.

"I've only his say-so for it," said the ear.

"Perhaps he's from 'Form'." came from inside. "Let him down—I mean, in."

The guardian ear opened the door another five inches and I sidled through. Immediately I was seized and blindfolded. Hands went through my pockets.

"He's paid his levy all right," said a disgusted voice, "and there's no broken hatpegs on him. Put his money back."

I take it that this was done. In any case, the bandage was removed from my eyes and I was able to examine the scene before me.

Around a table upon which rested a dilapidated typewriter—Ford make, T model—sat a number of cowled and hooded figures, their expressionless eyes fixed on me. One, evidently the President, sat on a gas heater. Photos of great antiquity obscured the walls. Rubbish of all descriptions was stacked here and there. Near me stood a piano, with a mutilated kewpie resting on the keys. I was regarding with interest a small silver cup that somehow suggested chocolate sundaes when the voice of the leader of the gang recalled me to the business in hand.

"What's the interview for?" he inquired.

"The Spike," I answered.

"Oh. h—!" I heard him mutter, in perfect English. "What is that jolly rag after now?"

"Something about football would do," I ventured.

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"Hum." he commented. "That's a jolly lot more sense than it usually displays. Tell it there's no need to worry—things are going all right. That's all, isn't it?"

"Heaven forbid!" I ejaculated.

"I don't like you saying things like that in my hearing," said the President, reproachfully. 'I don't hold with any place where you can't stick up a pair of goal posts. It jolly well doesn't exist. Fair dinkum, don't you think so?"

May I venture to suggest," said I, "that the Cricket Association might hold a different opinion. I seem to remember a perfectly heavenly noise about a certain cricket tour during the long vacation."

"Well, what can a fellow do?" he protested. "To tell you the honest truth, it's the only way I can get into touch with the rural Police. There are some jolly fine fellows among them—a bit difficult to reason with. I must admit, but—"

"I never stop to reason with them." I informed him. "I often think they'd be broadened a bit if we sang some of our College songs to them." he remarked. "It's a pity our chaps can't sing."

"Haven't you ever listened to the Haeremai Club?" I asked, incredulously.

"Drunk and sober." he confessed, "and fair dinkum. I reckon those fellows don't know the difference between 'Aedem colimus' —er, how does it go, Bill?"

"Er—laboriosae, I think," said Bill, a little uncertainly.

"Yes, as I was saying." continued the President, "they can't distinguish between 'Aedem'—er, that good old College song, you know—and that whiskery old hymn tune 'Clementine.' Would you believe it, at the jolly old Undergranulated Supper the other night they got mixed—"

"No, no." I assured him. "That was at the Smoke Concert. You wouldn't bar a shandy or two, would you?"

"Eh?" he said. "Oh, yes, I see. No, really, fair dinkum, I like the students to be noisy at those functions. It gives me a chance to be consistent. I've got a little speech specially prepared for noisy functions and it sort of loses its kick when I have to alter it to fit a quiet show. Now, at Capping—"

He shook his head regretfully:

"You speak in mysteries," I confessed. "Tell me—what did you think of 'The Mystery of the Purloined Cup'?"

"Nothing," he snapped. "I happened to be occupied in Bond Street when that incident occurred."

"The culprit was a student. I believe?" suggested I. "Ridiculous nonsense," he exclaimed. "I have it on jolly good authority that he was a dignitary of the church."

"Same church as you?" I hinted, somewhat impertinently.

"Look here." said the President. "You must lay off that subject."

"Pardon," said I. "I merely heard you were converted."

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"That's a football expression," he evaded. "I can talk for hours about Rugby. Fair dinkum. Honest. I think every college student should play it."

"The women too?" I enquired.

"Why not?" he demanded. "They wouldn't come fluttering around me for grants for their Basketball Club then. We can't go on shovelling out grants for ever. Fair dinkum. Honestly now, it really beats me what these clubs want money for. I could understand it if it were football. Give me my way and I'd make even the Professors play football."

"Great, great!" I almost shouted, grabbing my notebook and pencil. "What Professors would you play in the forwards?"

He appeared to ponder this question, then in a moment his manner changed. I fancy he detected some hidden implication in my innocent question.

"Get out of this," he ordered roughly. "Quick and lively!"

I have a confused recollection of what followed, but I feel that if ever I play football again I'll hit the first man I see kicking the jolly old ball.