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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

The first full day of my Summer School found me dressed in a lab coat too big for me, reaching down below my knees and will sleeves rolled up around my wrists so I had the appearance of a child playing dress up, crushing leaves with a pestle and mortar and about to play with a lethal poison currently banned in the United Kingdom.

We’d been introduced to this poison the night before in our first tutorial by our Theme Tutor who looked quite like and spoke exactly like Alan Titchmarsh, complete with brass band music permanently playing in the background soundtrack. The poison, it had to be stressed to us a lot, was not to be drank. It was not to be recklessly carried around the lab. Under no circumstances was it to be sucked up in to a pipette and then squirted in to the eyes of the students around us. Don’t touch your face, don’t bite your fingernails, don’t rub your eyes, don’t have any direct contact with the solution. This was a very lethal poison, capable of killing a man quicker than a swan can break a dog’s leg.

The poison sat in a tiny test tube on the table in front of us as we crushed our leaves to release the chlorophyll. It was decorated with tiny stickers that had a skull and crossbones, it had the words “POISON” emblazoned down the side, it virtually shimmered with murderous appeal.

We made up the potion (not the technical or scientific term encouraged during our summer school, but the term I insisted on using throughout) and then went to add the poison. Me and my lab partner were giggling like the demented harridans we are at the fun of it all.

Naturally, I spilt it all over the table. This made us both explode with laughter, useless, helpless laughter than left us doubled over and tearful, momentarily gaining control long enough to attempt to mop up the disaster without Mr Titchmarsh spotting our hideous mistake and banning us for life from the labs. Thank god they insisted on protective gloves and goggles when there’s goons like us let loose.


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