Exclusive: The Cambridge Student has received information that an unidentified man, notably not resembling a student or a fellow, has been occupying St John's College library.Students have reported sharing their study space with an unlikely middle-aged Jamaican, who seems to favour the History section but fails to do much more than, as first year Duncan Drysdale puts it, "trying to look busy". In approaching second year John's medic Casey Swerner for a chat, the mysterious figure made vague claims of working on a PhD on the topic of "how we perceive religious identity", but his faintly intellectual conversation failed to explain his unusual behaviour.
Speaking to TCS, John's student Ben Brindley described him as "a bit of a wanderer". "He used to pace around. He brought Sainsbury's bags in and ate in there, and never changed his clothes", Ben said. Additionally, Grace Blaiklock from John's complained: "he's a snorer and he chokes as he snores".
It appears that the intruder has been making use of the library's 24-hour facilities, following students through the card-activated doors late in the evening once the library staff have left, and enjoying a warm place to spend the night. Second year Johnian Maya Palit describes how he "appeared and followed me out", and she was left feeling that she had to visit the library in the morning "so that it was light and he wouldn't be there."
St John's College would appear to be aware of these events. Last week, a Tweet by a Johnian announced that "last night, the porters found a man who's been living under the radar in our library for six weeks". The porters involved in the incident were not available for comment at the time of going to press.
The story of the library intruder, on a serious note, raises the ever-present issue of homelessness in the city of Cambridge. Organisations such as FLACK and Jimmy's Shelter share Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander's concerns that the imminent caps on UK housing benefits will lead to drastically increased levels of homelessness. Combine this with the recent reduction of the number of temporary beds at ‘Jimmy's', the much relied-on shelter on East Road, and the situation looks troubling. Udo, a local homeless man, told TCS: "the main problem is not enough safe sleeping places in the city". As reported earlier this year (‘Cambridge homeless living in fear', Michaelmas Issue 6), the number of attacks on Cambridge homeless people have increased five-fold in a single year.
TCS can only hope that whoever the library intruder is, he finds a better place to rest his head than on The History of the British Isles, Volume VI.
Isabel Adomakoh Young - News Reporter