Though Are the Wonders of This Brief Life 21 The Spawn of the Swinging Sixties Chapter Fourteen A Cambridge Lamentation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

From Though Are the Wonders of This Brief Life Book Two.


A Cambridge Lamentation centres on my brief stay at Coverton College, a teacher training college contained within the University of Cambridge, with its campus at Hills Road just outside the city centre. First published at FaithWriters in August 2007 in “definitive” form, it is a fusion of two previously published works. These are Shreds of Nothingness, as first published at Blogster, but now consisting of A Cambridge Narrative 1, A Cambridge Narrative 2 and In Such a State as This; and Final Flight from Hills Road, formerly A Cantabrian Lament. Unless I'm mistaken, Final Flight from Hills Road was forged from the same source material as In Such a State as This before being subjected to a similar editing process, and published in rudimentary form at Blogster as A Cantabrian Lament on the 10th of June 2006. In December 2007, a final “definitive” version of A Cambridge Lamentation was published at FaithWriters.

A Cambridge Narrative 1

In Such a State as This was adapted either from a page of diary notes, or an unfinished and unsent letter, written just before Christmas 1986 at Coverton. I created it by extracting selected sentences from the original script, and then joining them together, before subjecting the result to thorough editing and versification. It conveys the (possibly) pathological restlessness, romantic and otherwise, to which I was subject in the mid 1980s, and which resulted in my quitting Coverton after a single term. However, quite why I was so determined to put a final flight from Hills Road into practice remains a quandary to me more than two decades later. After all, I had every reason to relish my time there, given that I'd been made to feel most welcome and appreciated, not just by my tutors and fellow students, but others, including a student director, renowned throughout the university for the high quality of his theatrical productions, who singled me out to feature in a play he intended putting on during the Lent Term. He did so after seeing me interpret the leading role of Tom in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie soon after the end of the Michaelmas Term. Furthermore, the then president of the world famous Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club had gone out of his way to ask myself and a friend to appear in a Footlights production he was preparing as part of his year-long presidency. I threw it all away, as if life's precious opportunities constituted an inexhaustible supply, which of course they don't, as I know all too well today.

In Such a State as This


In such

A state as this,

I could fall

In love

With anyone.

The night

Before last,

I went

To the ball.


Filing out,

I wanted to be

One half

Of ev’ry one,

But I didn’t want

To lose...

I’ve done

little today,

Except mope

Dolefully around.

I’ll get over


I feel now,

And very soon.


I’ll freeze again,

Even assuming

An extra layer

Of snow.

I have

I have

I have

To get out of here...

A Cambridge Narrative 2

It will be obvious to any half-way sensible reader of the following piece that had I remained at Cambridge for the brief three terms required of me by the dictates of my course, which included teaching practise at a Community College in what I believe to have been Arbury, which is - I think - a London overspill area north of the River Cam, I would have been primed for success in an area in which I excelled, namely comedic character acting with a satirical edge. Not only that, but I would have passed my Post Graduate Certificate in Education through Cambridge University, as part of a course intended to produce something of a pedagogic elite. As if all this weren't enough to keep me at Coverton, when I made my first appearance at the Manor, the pupils reacted to me as if I was some kind of visiting movie or Rock star. Why in the name of precious reason itself was I so determined to put such a blatant act of self-sabotage into practise?

As a Christian, my faith helps me to withstand the pain of memories of my follies past...and of knowing all too well what I lost...

Final Flight from Hills Road


Coverton’s always a little lonely

at the weekends...

no noise and life,

I like solitude,

but not in places

where there’s recently been

a lot of people.

Reclusiveness protects you

from nostalgia,

and you can be as nostalgic

in relation

to what happened half an hour ago

as half a century ago,

in fact more so.

I met Tessa and Pete at 11.30 am,

and they took me out to lunch.

We went to Evensong

at Kings,

and it was beautiful;

the choral music, haunting.

I went to the PGCE

Xmas party. I danced,

and generally lived it up.

I went to bed sad though.

Discos exacerbate

my sense of solitude.

My capacity

for social warmth,

excessive social dependence

and romantic zeal

can be practically


it’s no wonder

I feel the need

to escape.

I feel trapped here,

there’s no outlet for my talents. 

Edited 23/2/18

Submitted: November 28, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Carl Halling. All rights reserved.

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