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Sideline: Skinheads in CambridgeIn Sideline, people give an alternative view of conference attendance. Jim Huntingford is Subject Librarian for Accountancy, Management and Law at The University of Abertay, Dundee.
Sometimes you just hate travelling. Waiting for a connection at a Cambridgeshire station I’m blasted by unrelenting winds and find little solace from the weak April sun. Seeking refuge in a shelter so charmless that it could conceivably be used in the event of nuclear fall-out, I’m met with uninterested stares from a dozen or so fellow travellers. At least it’s warmer, but if one more person leaves that door open I swear I’ll …
I pass the time by playing a mental game of ‘spot the librarian’. I decide against approaching the likely candidates with “Excuse me, but I don’t suppose you’re going to the UC&R Conference ?” Perhaps they would be offended - wounded at having been so easily catagorised as a travelling librarian. Then again, non-librarians might take it even less kindly.
In Cambridge I catch one of the multitude of deregulated buses and begin to feel relieved that the long haul from Dundee is over. This feeling quickly dissipates on arrival when I realise that my briefcase is still on the bus which is fast disappearing around a corner. In a split second of inexplicable calm, I wonder what life will be like without my address book, cheque book, keys and rail tickets. Then I start some serious panicking.
Incredibly, I spot a familiar looking bus driver (skinhead, earring, tattoos) in a bus on the opposite side of the road. Offering up a prayer of thanks for circular routes, I dodge the traffic (mostly kamikaze students on bicycles) and manage to get his attention. I babble incoherently about my briefcase before we establish that this is not the same bus.
Another bus pulls up alongside, complete with driver with skinhead, earring and tattoos. As I transfer my hysterical babble from one driver to the next, the first accuses me of thinking all skinheads look alike.
Stereotypes? The image problem? As I grip the handle of my retrieved briefcase with relief, I wonder briefly if this topic is on the conference agenda. I’ll check later.