There were of course both mandatory and optional courses at University. The pure maths course and the applied maths course were compulsory as were a number of others not mentioned in this poem. We also had to choose a course taught outside the maths department from a list provided. I chose, because I'd done it at A-level, a physics course but almost immediately regreted it. Almost anything would have been better.
That's because the one thing that all our courses had in common was that they were all delivered by lecturers who, let's be generous, had their distinctive styles.
The pure maths lecturer
Entered the room barefoot
And wearing a Kaftan
As if it were still nineteen-sixty,
And flower-power and peace and love
Held sway on campus.
But it was nineteen-seventy-seven
And punk was in the ascendant.
He sat cross-legged on the desk
And asked a question,
"Why is the set of all left socks
No one answered him.
He seemed disappointed.
The applied maths lecturer
Entered the room in a tweed jacket
With leather elbow-patches
As if he were a geography teacher,
And we were uniformed schoolchildren
In a secondary class.
But we had left all that behind.
He handed out sheets of notes
And lectured with his back to the room
In a droning mumble.
Thankful for the photocopied sheets,
From that day on,
We took turns to collect them.
He seemed not to notice.
The physics lecturer
Was always there before the start
Impatiently waiting for us to sit
Expecting us to listen attentively,
As we all wished we'd chosen differently
From the optional courses.
And he went on past the end,
Frowning at our impatience,
Expecting us to stay through lunch,
Not once, but always,
As we all packed our bags,
Put on our coats,
Drummed fingers on empty desks.
He seemed to be angry.
I entered every room
With diminishing eagerness
As the terms crept slowly past me
And my knowledge edged upwards
In inverse ratio to my enthusiasm
For my chosen subject.
I slowly narrowed my options
As surely as they slowly narrowed me,
Restricted myself to computer courses
Not one, but all of them
Looking for something
That might be useful
From the from the fairground lucky-dip