Dan had been commandeered by Stella Lastings (what was a History bod doing here?) I try to give Stella a wide berth, and not just because she is a size eighteen and needs wide-berthing.

I can’t understand how someone who teaches History is so caught up in the present, as in staff room goings-on.

There is no subject to do with anything or anyone in the university that she hasn’t got some take to add to the drama. If she can’t find any fresh gossip, she makes it up. She once started a rumour that Lee was having an affair with Mike Orme, our deputy dean, on the premise that the speed at which information flows accelerates in direct relation to the strength of the rumour i.e. the more likely a piece of gossip, the faster it would spread through the faculty.

And although nothing could be more unlikely than Lee having an affair with anyone, let alone someone who wears knitted tank tops, this particular rumour spread rapidly.

extract 2

Meanwhile, Stella was doing her squirming act for Dan. She is pretty with silly blonde curls, and she squirms in a girlish way when talking to men as though she is an insecure six-year-old.

Having a visceral dislike for women like that, I couldn’t bear to watch. I know that’s judgmental of me, but why do girly women think squirmy/flirty is attractive?

Men apparently fall for it.’