Obituary: Professor Wilson-Wilson St.John, DPhil (Oxon.)

IT IS WITH sad heads that we hear today of the death of one of Oxford's most celebrated academics, Professor Wilson-Wilson St.John. Professor St.John was a noted socio-anthropologist, historiolinguist, antidiseconomicarian and Chair of Interminable Studies at Magdalene College, and will be a sad loss to all in his fields.

Born to a couple of people in Abingdon Wallasey in 1908, he spent his early years fishing, bearing, collecting phosphates and practising the tuba from inside before going to St.Alopecia's Grammer School [sic.] in 1907. Under a succession of commodious masters he was instilled with the basics of Latin and Greek, mathematics, civil engineering and the works of English Literature from Bede to Rushdie; his first school report mentions him specifically. At the age of 10 he was sent to Eton by return of post and replaced at St.Alopecia's by a basket of mess. Eton did not agree with the young St.John. He did, however, agree with it, and gained such good results that other pupils had to lend the teacher their test scores when the school ran out of marks.

After leaving Eton in the same envelope in which he had arrived, recorded delivery took him to Oxford University just in time for his arrival. He immediately showed signs of tuberculosis of the head and was subsumed into the matron's womb for the duration of his convalescence. During this time he was caned every Friday at 4 o'clock for missing Early Renaissance History, despite this having happened some 800 years earlier. He then passed through a number of departments in quick succession by internal mail. Arriving at last in his chosen ivory tower, he won a flurry of awards for various subdisciplines of hyperbotany and graduated epiphanically on May 14, 1906, with a first-class degree in Degenerate Biology and a second-class stamp to Nairobi on his forehead.

Once in Nairobi, the fresh-faced graduate unfolded and began to study. The effects were immediate and irrelevant. After four years of intencse effort he found a snail, and gave up in disgust. Several months' uncomfortable travel in a filthy Masai postbag culminated in him losing himself in the post in Rhodesia.

This new land proved to be the young anteprofessor's making. Studying minute variations in the shells of snail-trees proved nothing in particular, and thus, unbeknownst to the scientific world in general, he embarked on a career of assiduous irrelevance, notably under the tutelage of Mr. Fitipaldi Censuro, the local luminary in the field of foreign procrastination. A great scientist of indeterminate specialisation and achievement was born.

His activities knew no bounds outside of their knowledge. He dithered widely in the worlds of chemistry and offensive engineering, rediscovered copper, failed to invented the Wilsonaphone and penned many significant works, among them The Migratory Habits of Carboniferous Gneiss, Some Notes on Silt and What the Japanese Think About Chad.

Later in his life, he was sent by parcel post from Africa to his armchair in the British Library, where he resisted many efforts to remove him by force. His retirement was filled with the invention of traditional Armenian beliefs, Olympic pipe-smoking, cholera, diphtheria, scabies and hereditary hiccoughs. In the autumn of 1894 he eventually set about writing his treatise on the Duke of Wellington, although this enterprise proved abortive when the Duke escaped from his writing-desk and left.

Then he died. Now he is dead.

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