HOMERton: A Cantabridgian Epic
Our literary parody machine returns with Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.
“Great work today, Odysseus! Particularly nice trick with that Trojan Horse!”
Odysseus, an eccentrically named CompSci, had just finished a supervision on anti-virus protection programming.
He liked his supervisor, Dr. Helen O’Troy (the face that launched a thousand microchips), but there was one downside. She was based at Girton. And now, at 7 o’clock on a Tuesday evening, he had to go all the way back to his college, Homer-ton.
It had been a long, arduous journey anyway, but unfortunately it seemed the Gods were not on his side. The heavens opened and rain poured down. He readied his two-wheeled vessel and put on his metallic, plumed helmet, and set off to battle with the elements.
It felt like he’d been cycling for several years when suddenly the air crackled with the might of Zeus. He swerved off the road to avoid to vengeful forces of Olympus. (Although unfortunately not avoiding the wrath of the motorist behind him, who tooted loudly at his failure to indicate.)
He looked around at the strange new world he had happened upon. It was a shining, domed palace, almost Persian looking, built from the finest concrete. He then realised something most shocking to a Computer Scientist: there were girls everywhere. He looked at the sign: “Murray Edwards”.
One of these mysterious Amazons approached him.
“Hi, I’m Kalypso. Want to come in for a drink? Nice shiny helmet you’ve got there…”
This was too much for our sheltered computer scientist. It was suddenly obvious… he was going to be captured and taken as a sex slave by this euphemistic witch. Without a backwards glance (he had a friend, Orpheus, who was always saying they were a bad idea) he made an escape: what would his girlfriend Penelope say, faithfully waiting back at college at her sewing society meeting?
Odysseus was flying along now at double speed. He cheerily waved to his friend Hercules, a medic just back from helping out with 12 labours in the Addenbrookes midwifery department.
Suddenly out of the gloom loomed two great monsters: the Scylla of St. Johns and the Charybdis of Trinity.
He took the narrow path between the two. He just about dodged being mauled as he passed the first (those lobsters they keep for formal hall are most violent creatures). Up he struggled, now, through a whirlpool of incredibly gifted but socially awkward Mathmos form the latter. Penetrating the depths of their discussions was nearly too much, even for someone as mathematically competent as Odysseus. Give him Polyphemus over polynomials any day…
He whizzed quickly on, but soon ended up in mortal peril once again. He saw a glowing apparition ahead and his nostrils picked up a heavenly scent. What could this magic be? It was “The Chariot of Life”.
His mouth was watering… His stomach rumbling… He had to get to those chips…
“Hi, what can I get you today?”
A lady with a name badge reading “Circe” waited to take his order, stylus at the ready, next to a handy wax tablet placed on the wall.
Something was making him wary, however. Could it be his incredible intuition? The Gods intervening to try and tell him something? Or just the fact that he’d already faced several mythical monsters today? Whatever the explanation, he looked more closely at the people ahead of him in the queue, shoving trans-fats unceremoniously into their mouths.
He saw their greedy guzzling and suddenly realised that he couldn’t stay. Anyone who ate the food was turned into a pig.
He dragged himself away from the scene of temptation and continued his journey. Feeling he’d faced quite enough danger for one day, Odysseus wasn’t taking any chances. He put in his iPod headphones and listened to “Ain’t no stoppin us now” at full volume past Spoons. He couldn’t risk the Siren-like harmonies drifting over and tempting him in. An acquaintance, Theseus, had once told him about getting stuck there, trapped by the Labrinth (as well as music by other popular hip hop artists).
Carrying on, he dodged a few dubious people who looked like they’d consumed a few too many lotus flowers already this evening and approached to the dark underworld of Parker’s Piece. He did not linger long amongst the lost souls, looking broken and dirty after their row on that dark river of death (the Cam).
At last he could continue on to Hill’s Road, comforted by the fact that least there were some people more tired than he was.