Monday, 17 July 2017

University - then and now

Day 8 of the journey - our heroine goes in search of knowledge 

Today I visited Old Joe. Over 40 years ago I consulted Old Joe on a daily basis. This was to check whether I would be late for my next lecture: I usually was.

Old Joe is the affectionate name given to the 325 foot tower which stands in the centre of the University of Birmingham’s campus. It is in fact the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. I only found out that fact today, although I may have been told many years ago. There is much I have been taught but which I have now forgotten.

A standard fictional convention is when the hero visits a hermit or wise man in search of knowledge to help in his quest. Knowing how unreliable my own memory is, it does make me wonder whether the old sage will always provide the right information. 

But then wisdom is about more than facts. Perhaps the truly wise person is the one who accepts that he doesn't have all the answers.

In the 40 years since I was a student here much has changed: trees have grown taller; buildings have been demolished, including Ridge Hall where I lived; others have been built in their place; the paternoster lifts in the Arts building have been removed. 

Yet despite all the changes Old Joe is still there. 

And my timekeeping is no better!


  1. I'm pleased to meet Old Joe. I didn't know that he was the tallest free standing clock in the world. That's quite an achievement!

    1. It is, isn't it? (I hope Wikipedia is up to date on the subject.)