Wednesday, July 23, 2008


About 2 weeks ago I got an email from my old uni professor, Roger Stephenson. It was a group email to a dozen or so colleagues and ex-students saying he was retiring from Glasgow uni, where he's been head of department and professor in German since roughly when I left. (When I was there he was a doctor of German literature).My immediate thought was - what a loss to Glasgow university. Roger's specialities in my day were Goethe and Nietzsche. He was eccentric, as the best of them are. He started many a lecture with an impersonation of Elvis on the stage in the lecture theatre. We drank wine in tutorials together at Christmas. As we got older and studied in his honours class, there were only a few of us in his groups so we socialized - we went to the pub, we went for curries, I even had him home for barbecues. He was an approachable, down-to-earth genius. His stories of his childhood in Liverpool made us laugh.
Roger is probably the teacher I learned most from in this life. He taught me about literature, he taught me about philosophy. He taught me to think and made me grow into the adult I am today.
I am terribly sad for the future students of German at Glasgow university that they will meet a study programme that will be much narrower and less deep. Also that they will laugh and think a little less.
Anyway, when I received his email, I suggested a lunch for old times sake - we hadn't met up since 2001. He and 2 other ex-students, Sheina and Linda, came for lunch on Sunday and funnily enough he hadn't aged a day. He still made me laugh with his cheesy Elvis impersonations and stories of Liverpool.
He suggested making it an annual reunion - the next meeting being in Liverpool where he's moving back to with his wife after retirement. I'll be there.

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