[A lecture theatre. A selection of young faces, many still showing the after-effects of a long Freshers’ week dissipation, gaze down at the lectern in a mixture of boredom and mild panic. Notes are frantically scribbled, some on paper, some on newly-purchased eyePads. The lecturer is in full flow.]

… and finally, we add the tincture of saffron blended with the trace amounts of meteoric iridium catalyst. This is most important, and should under no circumstances be omitted.

Would somebody please poke that gentleman at the back? What’s your name, sir?

Mr West, I know you were up late last night — in fact, given the racket you were making, the whole castle knows you were up late last night, and what you were doing — and I have no objections to you falling asleep in lectures, but please fall asleep quietly.

Finally, having finished the titration of the vital bath, we marinade the subject in it for a few moments… and apply the galvanic potential here and here. You can clearly see the results. Igor, would you kindly tighten the strap on your side of the bench while we wait for the effects to wear off?

Now, has anyone seen this experiment done before? Nobody? Very well, who hasn’t seen this done before? Also nobody. For heavens sake, this is a Fundamentals of Alchemycal Engineering lecture, not the Non-Aristotelian Logic module. You’ll never make it even to minion status with an attitude like that.

Can I get some kind of response out of you lot? Who’s alive? Ah, two of you. Well, I suppose I should be grateful for what little I can get… Who’s dead? Nobody. That leaves a good dozen of you. Who’s undead? Yes, thank you Ţepeş, you can put your hand down… Well, put Kemp’s hand down then. You can return it to him later. With an apology. He has enough to deal with in the village without student pranks as well, and I don’t want him showing up here with a mob of villagers waving burning brands and lawn strimmers again.

Crossword: 13548