One night at university, just before midnight, I was walking down a dark alley. I had spent all day working on my Ancient History thesis – the deadline was just a week away. I’d signed up for a shift volunteering for a charity which started at twelve o’clock, but until twenty to twelve I’d been immersed in the world of Philetaerus, a eunuch who had lived in what is now Turkey 2,300 years ago. My head was still full of ancient evidence: stone inscriptions, gold coins, and Philetaerus’s mysterious building programme of several temples to the Mother-Goddess, Cybele.
The alley was narrow and zigzagging. Out of the darkness, a man staggered towards me, slurring heavily. “Oi, mate – got a light?”
“No, I’m sorry,” I said, and I kept walking.
The man stumbled over to me. “D’you go to this university, then?” he said, leaning so close to me that I could smell the alcohol on his breath. Continue reading →