Does The Pterodactyl

This morning. Standing bleary-eyed at the pedestrian crossing on Archway Road, I hear the following:

“Does the pterodactyl want to push the button?”

It’s a father with his 4-year-old son, the son carrying a small plastic version of the aforementioned flying dinosaur. The boy pokes the pterodactyl’s beak against the button on the panel, and I wait with them for the lights to change.


Week 9 of the Spring Term, and we’re onto Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. The lecture, by Steven Connor, is one of the best we’ve had. He explores how you can study Pinter in depth without ever reaching for allegory or metaphor. Pinter uses registers as power play, so what’s going on in the dialogue IS what’s going on, and with Pinter the language is more than enough. Connor puts this so beautifully that the critics I’ve read who dwell on symbolism in The Caretaker – Biblical, cosmic, microcosmic  – now seem to be missing the point entirely.

A good lecture can do that:  it can give you the confidence and the tools with which to contribute to a field of study, and on your own terms. You stop looking at the shelves in the library thinking, ‘these books were written by people much smarter than me’, and start to think, ‘I could write books to slot in alongside these.’