(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2018 Angharad
I will be glad when the girls get the shop sorted and their accommodation over it because it has been like civil war here, and that’s just about the use of the bathrooms. Altogether we have five of them but when there’s ten of you, it gets complicated, especially when someone blocked up the drains, I presume accidently, with a sanitary towel or something similar, flushing it down the loo rather than putting it in the bin. Thankfully, Maureen had called to speak to Julie about something and ten minutes later we had a plumber and his rods out in the drive poking things down a manhole. It was he who told me what had blocked it. When he saw all the females there he just smiled—I suppose with school out for Easter, the house must resemble something from the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. In our case, with half a dozen grumpy, wannabe alpha females prowling round like irascible lionesses, pride may have been a better word than prime, unless it relates to explosives.
The university was closed for ten days over the ‘spring holiday,’ as politically correct people call it, although I’m quite happy with Easter, a pagan festival of renewed fertility of the land, though with only so many harvests left, according to the soil experts, fertility may be something we won’t be celebrating for very much longer.
Apparently the soil is leached clean of nutrients through over intensive farming and lack of rotation of crops, where the topsoil actually stays on the fields. In places it runs off when it rains or blows off when it’s dry. A symptom of removing hedgerows. Part of the problem has been increasing mechanisation, which continues. In theory, you can have an unmanned tractor plough or harvest a field, controlling it by computer with GPS and radio instructions. Effectively robots are doing are farming in places, I wonder if they use them to shoot badgers as well. Apparently, they are extending the cull which is crass stupidity given that the results so far have shown it to be ineffective and expensive but in politics, common sense, reality or scientific evidence count for naught against the will of the people or some other imaginary group of geniuses all with IQs in single figures.
Julie and Phoebe were busy with Maureen choosing bathroom suites or something so at least they were out of the way for a few hours, so I just had the others to organise. It had rained on an off most of the holiday and for somewhere different to go they asked me to take them to the hotel in Southsea so they could use the gym and the pool. I called ahead and they replied that they had enough fitness instructors to supervise six girls. I presume if they don’t, they send for a special forces detachment.
Danni had gone to the football club for training so hadn’t bothered to come with us, so that was one less to worry about. I dropped her off on our way out and Julie had agreed to collect her on the way back.
En route we picked up a story about the Open University, apparently the Daily Mail was calling for the government to subsidise it, which was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t think it would be in their interest to teach people to think because they’d see through most of their stories and all of their columnists. I’d also heard rumours that the staff and University council had voted no confidence in their vice chancellor and he was being given the bums rush once they discovered how much it would cost to get rid of him. He wanted to save a hundred million from their budget by getting rid of teaching staff. So, how do you improve a university? Get rid of the teachers – yeah it makes sense if you see universities as a business rather than an educational establishment, following an American model, except they have a bit more money over there.
I’ve always been a supporter of the OU because it meant people who weren’t mainstream students could study for all sorts of things up to and including degree level and they could do it cheaper and in their own time which isn’t really possible in a traditional university, having said that, some of our students appear at times to be occasional visitors to lectures so could be considered to be working in their free time but not for their courses.
One of the things we did over the holiday was to watch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall doing a wild life series. Of course, the girls told me I could have done it better, but I quite enjoyed just watching it rather than being a professional ecologist just for a few hours. I also had to admit I’d never seen ten or a dozen long tailed tits roosting together at night in the winter, but they found someone who had and who the birds allowed to film them. It was amazing to see the higher status birds just land in the middle of the row, where it’s warmer and the poor lower status ones being on the very ends, where it gets colder.
He did all sorts of things some very simple like watching a murmuration of starlings, which can involve thousands of birds forming huge flocks before they roost and wheeling around in amazing three dimensional shapes before they do roost. He had to see dormice of course and for that he went out with a chap from Devon, that I met a while ago at a conference. He’s been radio tracking animals to find their winter hibernation nests and it appears they don’t use just one or stay asleep for the whole winter, they move around quite a bit. Which may explain why so many die in the winter.
At the hotel, I sat and worked on my laptop while six wild children tried to drown each other or themselves but were having great fun in doing so. I was quite enjoying myself too until I got an email from the new vice chancellor asking me to attend a meeting on the coming Monday morning at eight o’clock—breakfast would be provided. I hate breakfast meetings, they are generally a waste of time and money and called by people who have no idea how busy my house gets first thing in the morning.
However, what really made cross was an email from a colleague who has a disabled
Husband, and for whom breakfasts are probably as difficult as mine are, who wrote and said she’d sent apologies to him regarding the meeting as being very inconvenient and he’d as good as told her to collect her cards instead. I’d have to check, but I didn’t think he had the authority to fire a senior head of department. I was tempted to see what happened if I declined to attend as well. Would he have the neck to try and sack me and could he? Or would I lead a revolt to get rid of him as I did with one before Tom took over the job.
I would sleep on that and may or may not try my luck, after all, I don’t actually need to work for the money, for me it’s an emotional need, to teach people and to save my beloved wild life. There are some things more important than money, says she who has loads of it—yeah, I know, but I still think it’s true.
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