ASSOCIATES (2020, March, v. 26, no. 3)


The Chair

Jim Jackson

Emeritus professor Edwin Snood was what might be described as a classical academic professor, from his shuffling style walk, his long rambling lectures and his overriding love of books. He had followed his parents who had both been theological professors into academia but had taken up Physics as his lifelong passion.

Now all that was in the past and he had died in his sleep and today library assistant Chris Jones had the task of dealing with the ‘death list’. What this actually was a notification of academics that had died but still had library books on loan. It was the job of a junior member of staff to take a list of outstanding loans and go to the person’s office to retrieve any books which belonged to the library.

Not the greatest job in the world, but someone had to do it, and it was always a junior member of staff who had to get their hands dirty. On entering Professor Snood’s study Chris Jones was greeted by a large room which felt small, due to the number of books everywhere, and notebooks, old journals and a huge pile of scripts and academic research papers. Where do I start thought Chris, at the beginning of course he laughed. He sat down in the large high-backed green leather-bound chair behind the desk, and immediately felt comfortable. The smell of well-polished leather, old pipe tobacco smoke and dust. Yes, this was a chair of a real professor, who had over time travelled the world, spoken to thousands and explored the universe. The deeper Chris sank into the chair the deeper the thoughts of a thousand lectures given, the students who had hung on his every word as he explained the mysteries of the universe and how it all came to be. How elements had come together at the right time in the right place and created planets, and then all that followed. Come with me said Professor Snood and let me explain and Chris’s mind and imagination flew through time and space. He explained how physics controlled everything because without physics nothing else happened. If two molecules did not combine then multiply then planets would not form, and without planets there would be no place for a planet’s atmosphere or nature or humans. Physics might now be regarded as merely part of science, but it was so much more than that.

The leather chair seemed to enfold its arms around Chris Jones, and he went into a deeper trance and entered Professor Snood’s world, of words, diagrams, theories about why things always happened as they did, and how the world revolved around mathematics and the physics of thought. This was a world where time constraints and budget plans did not exist, they were part of the future not of the present. Let me explain how my card catalogue works, each book is listed by its subject not by its author, so that I can find it when I need it rather than remembering an author’s name. So, if you are looking for something think of the subject and then look in the A-Z order of the cards. Never ever drop a file or you will be lost in a sea of ideas.

Chris Jones awoke from his dream, and looked around him, he was still in the office not the Universe looking down, he had a job to do, but now he knew how to do it.

Carefully, very carefully, he made his way across the room to the card cabinet and started looking for the books on his list. Remembering to look via subject not author for each book. Finding such notations as right-hand corner third pile. Yes, the system worked! He found his first book! Thirty minutes later he had found all 12 books and prepared to leave. He sat in the chair one last time and thought that soon all this will continue its journey through space and time. It would change format but would still be governed by physics.

The chair, well the chair still had life in it, and would go on to live in Chris Jones house for many years to come, and even welcome new lives as story time for the children were always read in the chair, allowing young minds to imagine and explore.