I was impressed that Manchester then Poly had a specific publication dedicated solely to the needs of the Mature Student. They are uniformly to be commended for giving up a stable source of income, a definable trajectory through life, for the vicissitudes of Art. One mature student dissatisfied by the incompetence of the way he was assessed appealed with the help of an expensive barrister who tore the procedures to shreds and helped the student achieve recognition of what he had done.I narrowly escaped being selected as the legal representative for the Academic Board because I had been an Articled Clerk in a legal preactice. That would have further compounded the incompetence.

It can be forbidding to blast away with the usual lecture script knowing that a distinguished scholar who has decided to take up Fine Art is present. John Broadbent, doyen of Miltonic scholarship sat patiently through a lecture on Artists' Visual Aids. The trick is not to scrutinise any one member of the audience to see if you have been rumbled. Lest I panic I took the bare bones of what I wanted to say, because I rarely read from a script. Often I would use the Lecture to decide what I really thought.

Mature students are mature enough to spot bluff and blather, and on the whole, smirk silently and wink on leaving the teaching room. I was lecturing on Goya one Friday afternoon and reached that touching portrait of the Blind Man. I kicked myself.The slide was back to front. On I sped until the voice of a Mature Student in the darkness called out, "It's back to front."

The onset of the weekend made me careless.

"No " I patiently explained," that's the companion piece to the one you know in the Prado." There was a pause to allow my audience to absorb this fib.

"Then why does it say AYOG on the frame?"

It was Captain Mannering who would usually say, "Well done! I was wondering who would spot that." The ruse is by now too familiar so, under cover of darkness, I had to flip the slide in the projector. In terms of personal authority it is difficult to recover the audience's sympathy under these circumstances.


a slide in reverse