04 May 2017
Death In Oxford
A question of aggression.
By Chin Chin
It was high noon as the man from the University strode in through the swinging door of Jake’s bar. Jake stood there, his left-hand loose by his side as, with his right, he slipped off the safety catch of the shot gun which always lay hidden behind the counter. This man looked like trouble and with Christchurch, with its sinister reputation, just round the corner, it was well to be prepared. Who knew what the stranger carried on his hip under that gown, rippling so gently in the breeze. Was this the day on which one of them would die?
The other drinkers froze, ready to dive for cover as the academic footfalls resounded on the wooden boards. Would it be blood, or just a crème de menthe? Look for the body language. Watch the eyes. That was the way to tell.
The mortarboard was off now and the man had reached the bar. Jake’s hand was on the trigger but it was for the customer to place the order. How would he react to the challenge in Jake’s eyes? By staring straight back or by glancing away?
The customer averted his eyes. It was only the slightest of movements and the casual observer might have thought that he was just making sure that he did not trip over the bar stool but, to Jake, it could only be one thing – racism. Jake pulled out the shot gun and gave the customer both barrels; he was dead before he had time to reach under his gown.
My word, it had been a close-run thing. Jake, only being a townsman, was not a regular reader of the Oxford University equality and diversity unit newsletter and it was only the press which had alerted him to their verdict that failing to look someone in the eye was a form of racist micro-aggression. Not that Jake was actually black or brown, but he was descended from Saxon stock who had undoubtedly been subjugated by the Norman establishment. There was no way that anyone coming into his bar would be allowed to micro-aggress him. The magistrates would understand that. He kicked the corpse into a corner and threw the mortarboard on top of it.
Jake would have been less happy had he realised the seriousness of what he himself had done. Destroying a member of an endangered species is an appalling cultural crime and there was no doubt that members of the University were becoming scarcer by the day. For a start, there were those who could not meet your eyes. Previously it had been assumed that they were modest or diffident or perhaps came from a culture where not looking directly into a stranger’s eyes was good manners. The equality and diversity unit had scuppered that nonsense. Now they were revealed as micro-aggressors, as were those who asked questions about genetic roots, told jokes or did anything else of which the University disapproved. As the unit pointed out, suffering micro-aggression could lead to mental health issues so it was no surprise that the oppressed had turned on their tormentors, purifying the ancient spires with the disinfectants of bullets and cold steel. Not since the days of Zuleika Dobson had the membership of the University fallen so suddenly.
So why had an agency of Oxford University embraced a policy which will eliminate a large number of its students? Was it because they believed this stuff about micro-aggression? No, obviously not, even academics are not as half-witted as that. Was it then that Oxford undergraduates do not cut the mustard and need to be replaced with better ones? That is more likely, and there is certainly evidence on which such an approach could be based, but, if it is the policy, then it is likely to fail. Why would students from other universities subject themselves to this patronising regime? No, it cannot be that. What else then? As any reader of detective fiction will tell you, if you want to solve the case, follow the money. That is it then. Get rid of the students and the resources of the University can be lavished on the dons. That is a prospect rosy enough to provide the rationale for any number of quality and diversity units.
For Jake, though, it is all much simpler. He was brought up in a city riven with conflict between town and gown and has had to earn his living while watching the snowflake generation of students indulging their susceptibilities. This is the opportunity he has been waiting for. Another member of the University walks into the bar. Jake watches him come. Surely he will glance away, if only for a moment. Just for a second, he prays. Just for a second. Please, God, please, make my day, please…
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