St Andrews corkscrew  

I was a guest at high table at Jesus College, Cambridge a couple of years ago. On hearing that St Andrews had been one of my universities, the professor to my left told me an amusing story. He'd been on a train coming down from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and beyond. It was one of the old style trains with a corridor that had compartments off it, each taking six people, or eight with the armrests up. Each compartment had a sliding door into the corridor.

The professor heard someone open one of the doors down the corridor and ask, "Anyone here from St Andrews?" On receiving no reply, he did the same at the next compartment. Again nothing, and he worked his way down the corridor until he reached the professor's compartment. "Anyone here from St Andrews?" he asked. This time a young man sitting next to the window had raised his hand.

"Yes, I am," he volunteered. "Good," came the relieved reply. "May I borrow your corkscrew?" The young man nodded, and duly produced a corkscrew and offered it to the man. The professor laughed at the memory as he recounted the story. He laughed even more when I reached into one of the sealed sleeves that hang from my black academic gown, and produced a folding corkscrew.

Sometimes at college formal dinners the wine comes in bottles that have corks, rather than screw tops, and I carry the folding corkscrew to save the trouble of having to ask one of the waiters to bring one. But I had not realized that St Andrews students had that reputation. I doubt they do now, given that these days the less costly wines overwhelmingly come in screw top bottles.