Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Eyjafjallajokull edition

MrsM is pacing the empty corridors of the Department.

There are 15 academic staff stranded abroad;
they are experienced and resourceful travellers
but MrsM wants them all back. Safely.

The Intrepid Research Assistant
was the first one home after driving overnight
from Denmark to Calais.
He emails to let me know that he is
'tired and dirty but safely home'.

The Very Cultured Professor
has decided to visit Vancouver
while he waits for his rescheduled flight
'because I have never been there before'.

The Professor of whom we spoke some time ago
has had a car accident in North Carolina
but fortunately is only shaken, not stirred.

The Examinations Officer is stuck in Washington
and we confer on the phone to make sure
that the exam preparations are unaffected.

The Expert on Hand Axes is in St.Louis
but it doesn't stop him from sending me emails
which make me laugh out loud.

The Enthusiastic Academic
is in hot and humid Taiwan
about which she feels less than enthusiastic.

The Expert on Fair Trade
has decided to wait it out in a beach hut.
She assures me this is the cheapest option.

The Expert on Communication Technology
is in a very comfortable hotel in Finland.
Travelling overland is not an attractive alternative.

The Head of Department is stranded in South Carolina
and his only consolation is the knowledge
that the Dean of Faculty is stranded in China.

The Deputy Exams Officer says, gloomily,
'I hope they all get back
before the other volcano blows...'

The Young Academic confirms his trip to Iceland
is still going ahead next week.
He assures me that you can fly in from the West.
I double check that he has travel insurance.

The Vulcanologist from upstairs
is quivering with excitement;
Christmas has come unexpectedly early
if you are a Geologist.

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Easter Vacation

It is the quietest day of the year.

The academic staff are away
en masse
at international conferences
or doing field work in foreign parts.

This means that I can do the following:

Admire the pink blossomy beauty of the campus.

Smile sweetly at the lady behind the cash desk
when she scowls at me.

Chat up the guy in charge of the conference
until he lets me eat the jelly beans
which have been put out for the delegates.

Admire the tiny dog called Stanley
with a diamond collar and little grey hoodie
who arrives tucked under the arm of a (male) student.

Pimp my examinations spreadsheet
with coloured tabs.

Listen to music!
In my office!
On my sparkly green iPod!

Wave to the tiny student
who sits like a sea sprite
on the rock outside the front door
having a break from cataloguing hand-axes.

Listen to the lovely lady from Finance
tell me about her Caribbean cruise.

Go to lunch with a visiting Chinese academic
and hear his in-depth analysis
of UK steel and coal production.

Water the Head of Department's
much loved collection of plants.
I have only managed to kill one.

Discuss football
(about which I know very little)
with the Newcastle supporter
in his black and white Magpie shirt.

Wish I could hear the noisy footsteps
of the academic who has just turned 40
as he arrives in my office
with yet another cunning plan
to spin money out of thin air.

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