Alarmed at The City Lit
I knew what to do when the fire alarm sounded at the City Lit last night: scarper. I've been in plenty of evacuations in 30 years of teaching, much of it during the IRA years in London. The worst place for 'prank' alarms was Richmond College in Twickenham, a vast site with a couple of thousand students. The most memorable include Debenhams in Oxford Street, Crystal Palace Swimming Pool and a hotel on the Costa del Sol in December down a smoke-filled stairwell. Nothing to do with the IRA, that one.
Quite apart from the delay while fellow students disentangled themselves from chairs with trays that swing over your knees, I was halted when the lecturer calling me back. The slowness of the progress down the stairs would have put the Spanish pensioners to shame. However, we were all out and back in again in fifteen minutes, so at least we didn't lose much tuition time.
On the bright side, I collected next year's amazing prospectus. The prices must be the cheapest in London.
The final clip was a very graphic and unpleasant episode from Polanski's Salo, only released uncensored in 2008. The lecturer, John Wisby, gave fair notice that the film content was pretty shocking and said students might want to wait in the corridor. So I was surprised when two of them complained at the end. What did they expect?' Maybe it was delayed shock from the earlier evacuation.