Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Learning at Work

You have not yet met
the Professor who shall be nameless
but he has a mischievous sense of humour.

He sends me a link to
the Learning at Work Day homepage.
He knows that I will be entertained
by the list of prizewinners of the
'Name the Fruit and Vegetable' Competition.

The Professor who shall be nameless
does not mention that
a Very August Colleague
is a prizewinner.

As luck would have it,
the Very August Colleague
is the next person to come into my office.

I congratulate the Very August Colleague
on this extraordinary achievement.
He glows with pride.

I got 33 out of 40.
I am amazed.

Not everyone can identify a Mangosteen, you know.
I am impressed.

I thought it was VERY unfair
that I was expected to know it was a Medjool Date.
I just wrote Date.

I am sympathetic.

I didn't recognize the Dragon Fruit
but who would?

I would!
I say.

He looks doubtful.
He is, after all,
a widely travelled,
highly respected,
senior Professor
who gets letters published in the Guardian.
If he doesn't recognise a Dragon Fruit,
it is unlikely that I will.

But it is true.
I would recognise a Dragon Fruit.


Later, MrsM recounts the story to MissM.
She looks slightly mystified.

Why did he win?
What did he call it?
Oh! I SEE ...
I thought it was 'NAME the Fruit and Veg...'
like 'Billy-Bob...the Carrot'

MrsM realises that she may have to
sharpen her act before
she gives up the day job.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Stonehenge at Sunset

If you stand with your back to the Heel Stone
at the ancient entrance to Stonehenge
this extraordinary Neolithic monument
does not seem large
under the huge Wiltshire sky.

It is only after you have stepped over the rope
and approached the great Sarsen ring
that you begin to comprehend the size
and complexity of the construction.

Walking under the massive lintel stones
into the inner circle
you feel awed by the vision and organisation
of the community that created this place
6,000 years ago.

Closer still,
you discover the pale patina of lichen
which catches the late evening light.

We were very fortunate to have
a Stonehenge expert,Andrew Lawson,
as our group leader.
His detailed description of the construction
and archaeological excavations was fascinating.

These daggers and axeheads
occur on many of the stones in the inner circle
and were carved into the rocks nearly 4,000 years ago.

Then it was time to be quiet
as the sun began to set.

It is a rare privilege
to be allowed inside the stone circle
and it was an unforgettable experience
to be there at sunset.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Equal Opportunities

Lecture Theatre

tiered seats of excruciating discomfort
each patinated bench with a brass ink well
primrose walls and white plasterwork
black iron wall radiators
smoky glass pendant lamp

the man at the lectern
describes the manifold ways
in which discrimination should be avoided
in a dry, monotonous voice

it delights me to think
that this same lecture theatre was built
for the sole use of young women
who were educated here
but were unable to graduate
and returned to a world where
only men could vote

what would they think of this
equal opportunity legislation?

Students - 1891

Friday, 15 May 2009

Special Arrangements

I don't want to worry you

the invigilators have not arrived.
Could you phone the exams office?

Wait a minute!
Why is that candidate walking out of the building?

What do you mean - the invigilators are lost?

I am going to go back and reassure the other candidate.

He's gone!
This is a disaster...
we have no invigilators and no candidates.

Phone the exams office
but don't tell them
we have lost the candidates.

Ah! Here is an invigilator...

I am afraid that you will not be in the room
on the schedule because the computer centre
set up the computer in the other room.
I am afraid that we don't have a candidate either.

Ah! Here is a candidate.

Oh dear - it is the other candidate
and his invigilator is still missing.

I am going to walk around the building
and see if I can spot anyone who looks lost.


Some candidates have special arrangements
for their exams which take account
of particular challenges that they face.

These students are in individual examination rooms
and may have computer equipment or a note-taker.

This year we have a number of candidates
with special examination arrangements
including a finalist with cerebral palsy

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Invitation to a Private View

The artist, smiling.
The husband, relieved.
The mature student, gesticulating.
The photographer, bored.
The research director, self-deprecating.
The gallery receptionist, blase.
The influential woman, networking.
The blogger, fascinated.


The images were taken, with permission,
at the private view of an exhibition,
Moving Patterns,
at the Royal Geographical Society.
It is the culmination of a research project
to consider the effect of migration on artistic expression.

It involved collaboration with artists
who have a variety of visual references from different cultures.
One artist amalgamates the structure of tartan
and the Indian tradition of gold and silver artwork.

Another artist uses images such as
the double decker bus and helmeted policeman
in repetitive patterns.

If you thought that
Geography was all about maps
you are so out of date.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


MrsM has been signed up for a Time Management course.
MrsM is aggrieved. She does not think that she needs to attend.
MrsM is informed that it is compulsory.
MrsM provides a credible excuse for the first session:

"Board Meeting"

MrsM provides a credible excuse for the second session:


MrsM runs out of excuses.

MrsM checks her diary first thing in the morning. It is The Day.
MrsM shakes her head at the shocking waste of time.
MrsM arrives with a minute to spare.

There is no-one there.
MrsM is a week early.
MrsM turns around to see the course organiser.
MrsM is busted.

Alas! MrsM knows that the course organiser knows that
MrsM really, really needs a Time Management course.
And the course organiser knows that MrsM knows that.

It is a bitter medicine to swallow.