(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2018 Angharad
Christmas quickly became New Year—how can it be 2018 already? Bloody hell, I’d be thirty five this year, no wonder my girls think I’m getting senile, I probably am. I mean, thirty five is middle aged, it’s when people’s hair goes grey or falls out, they get fat and have heart attacks. Looks like the beginning of the end, but then I’ve escaped having things ended a few times in the past decade or so—all since meeting and becoming one of the Cameron Clan. Before that life was relatively mundane, the worst that would happen was that someone would try to beat me to death, usually my dad or people in school—but they weren’t professionals, like some of the ne’er do wells I’ve met since.
I glanced out of my office window, it was raining—again: I was back in work, the girls were back in school, God was in his heaven and was right with the world—yeah, right. The equilibrium we have in the world is such a fragile item and so easily disturbed especially by some of the supposed leaders of the world, like Trump in the US or Putin in Russia or the bloke in China who wants to be president for ever—just like the other two sociopaths I just mentioned. Then the strange man with the even stranger haircut in North Korea, who seems to be making overtures to the west by agreeing to have a joint Korean winter Olympics team. The other week he was threatening to fire missiles at Hawaii or some such thing. Is it just a ruse to wrong foot the Americans while he thinks of something else, playing for time or has he run out of malevolent ideas for the time being?
The New Vice Chancellor takes over at the end of June, so Tom has a couple or so months to prepare himself for being semi retired. I hope he finds something to do that he enjoys, some emeritus professors do some of their best work at the end of their careers because they don’t have to play by the rules so much—they can hardly be sacked, so don’t have to watch what they say or do.
There’s a rumour going around that the new VC wants to have a new logo designed for the university to demonstrate it’s under new management. I wonder how much that will cost and you can guarantee it won’t come out of his salary—no my poor students will pay for it. What a waste of time and money. This Office for Students the government has set up is another waste of time and money, it won’t do what students want, which is to spend less and get more from the system, but rather what the government wants. But things are changing—not necessarily for the better—but they are changing and I see London are setting up a computer science course which will be entirely on line—can’t see the Open University being too happy about that, as most of their courses are almost completely on line.
I’ve got a meeting with Trish’s tutor—we get her and Livvie extra tuition to keep them stretched mentally. They’re doing A-level maths and physics come the summer and we’ve been advised to think about sending them to university. Trish wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge. I’m not so sure simply because of the age factor and all the social stuff they do, she’d be between five and ten years younger than most other students and vulnerable.
When I last spoke to Simon about it he told me to get a chair at Oxford and then I could keep an eye on her—yeah, just like you do. I said we’d need to find someone to act as her in loco parentis and pay them. It’s not impossible and we can afford it, it’s more about not wanting her to go from my own emotional point of view than anything else. I feel she’s too young emotionally even if her brain is up for it. If we could just send her brain, sort of Monday to Friday and have it brought home for weekends, it would be much easier. Perhaps I should ask her to research a way to do it?
Because I’ve been so busy I just have two post graduate students to supervise, they’re do a project on researching remodelling proteins in recessive gene diseases. Not my usual cup of tea but no one else would do it and we managed to get research grants for both of them plus half a million to build a new laboratory for them to work in. They’re both bright sparks but one reminds me a little of Trish, incredibly clever but a little immature for her age—she’s now nearly twenty five and acts like an adolescent much of the time.
It’s the first day back and Diane is snowed under with work, I’ve even had to type one or two of my own letters. We were only closed for just over a week, so where have all these epistles come from? Apparently, they showed my harvest mouse film over the Christmas holiday on BBC 4, which is a television channel not Radio 4 and we had another boost in enquiries from young women who want to catch harvest mice for three years. The reply we make does tend to suggest there’s a bit more to mammal biology than tickling harvest mice or even dormice, but we’re rarely short of student applications and Henry wants me to do something on pine martens, which the BBC have given a provisional approval to as well.
I recalled the conversation we had on Boxing Day. “Saw the harvest mouse film again on Christmas eve.”
“I’d forgotten it was on,” was my response—well it’s relatively old hat these days, for me anyway.
“I think one on the pine marten would be rather good, the BBC have provisionally agreed to buy it as well.”
“Well when they show it, I certainly watch it,” I said dead pan.
“You’re going to make it.” He fired back in quite a firm tone.
“What when I retire?”
“No, this coming year. Get Alan or whatever his name is to make some room in his schedule.”
“It’s not my field of expertise, I’m sure there are much better qualified ecologists to make it, there was an article in the Mammal Society newsletter the other month of a woman in Scotland or the North of England who tracks them by their poo.”
“Cathy, I don’t want to film their poo, I want to see you out there showing the rest of us how easy it is see them, for a talented biologist like you.”
“I think you might be confusing me with Chris Packham, he’s a jack of all trades zoologist.”
“No, daughter in law, I think I can recognise each of you individually and he’s not as beautiful as you.” Perhaps he wasn’t as tiddly as I thought, though he’d had several glasses of wine. His chauffer was coming to get him about five o’clock, it was two when I last looked at the kitchen clock. Monica was upstairs with the younger girls, they were playing with their doll’s house. I had it made for Trish and Meems but only Meems ever played with it and even then she preferred to play with her dolls, changing them or feeding them and so on. She still likes them even though she’s ten years old heading towards eleven. Where has that time gone?
Diane came into my room with an armful of letters to be signed. I did wonder about getting my signature transposed to the computer so she can get them done without needing to bother me, but part of me likes to see what my name is being put to and if I’ve signed it, then I accept responsibility for what has been sent, including some to some less than diligent students who need a bit of a rocket.
“My fingers are worked to the bone,” she complained.
“Can’t sign those today,” I said winding her up.
“My fountain pen has run out of ink.”
For a moment I thought she was going to attack me, instead she dumped the pile of paper on my desk and walked over to the cupboard by the window and dug out a bottle of ‘Quink’. “Fill it and get signing,” she said and stamped out of the room.
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