Friday, 24 September 2010

Freshers' Week 2010

The new student did turn up after all.
The Admissions Tutor wins the bet and claims his £10.
I will get it back next time.

A distraught President of the GeogSoc wails
"I have 150 students waiting for a drink
and NO corkscrew!"
I turn to my cupboard.

I greet a Fresher and he looks confused.
"How did you know my name?"
I remind him that he came to my office at lunchtime.
Apparently lunchtime is already too long ago.

Brad is looking city sharp
in his Baker Boy cap, red shirt and leather tie.
"Will they know that I am a Cultural Geographer?"

The new PhD student from Canada
has flaming Titian hair and dramatic clothes.
I am going to enjoy watching her wardrobe.

"We can't find the way out!"
As I give them directions
I realise that the two young men accompanying her
don't seem to be taking any notice of me.

On my way across campus
I spot the Hockey Society promotional campaign.
Behind the placard "Hockey Loves You!"
are three very attractive students in short skirts.
It could be a good year for the Hockey team.

MissM meets up with the Glamorous MissI
and other friends from school who have started as Freshers.
She is thrown out of the Union because she has no ID.
The excitement!

The academic who will be 41 very soon
is at a conference in Italy.
He claims that he would rather be with us.

All the lights are on in the corridor
and the sound of tutorial meetings
leaks out of the offices.

I meet the new Scottish academic
and ask him if it is busy enough for him
"It is perking up nicely" he replies.

The Ginkgo trees outside my window
have turned butter yellow.
The Autumn term has begun.

original post

Monday, 20 September 2010

the world comes to me

The young academic who went to Iceland
has just returned from the border of China.

He tells me that while he was in China
he went up onto the Tibetan plateau for the first time
and after he has told me of the mountains
I ask him something that I have always wanted to know
"Is it true that everywhere you go in Tibet they are flying kites?"
He assures me that it is true
and the kites fly so high that they are dots
in the clear Himalayan skies.

The image of the kites stays with me all day
as I prepare for the start of term
and once again I am grateful that my office walls
reach to the farthest edges of the world.

original post

Thursday, 16 September 2010

An Ending and A Beginning

The academic who dreamed of golf courses
is dressed in the suit that he wears to weddings
with the tie that he keeps for special occasions.

He whispers that he did not sleep last night
because he was so worried about his speech.
I whisper back that I did not sleep either
because I wanted everything to be perfect for him.

He asks who is coming.
I tell him that all his friends will be there
He shrugs and suggests that it will a quiet event.
I tell him to expect a room full.

The Head of the Academic Services Review is there
He can remember getting phone calls
when he skipped lectures as an undergraduate.

The Head of Department reminisces about the time
that they were stuck in the African sands together.

The Deputy Principal teases him about his office
which was archaeological in appearance
with layer upon layer of paperwork and books
carefully stacked and undisturbed.

He starts his speech nervously
and immediately turns to his beautiful wife
who was a student when he was a young lecturer.
"Meeting my wife was the turning point of my life" he says,
they smile at each other and the nerves vanish.

He flourishes his briefcase,
a veteran of 40 years service,
battered and unpolished,
and walking boots of similar vintage.

Stories of exotic illnesses around the globe
cause his audience, who have just eaten lunch,
to wince and look out of the windows.

He mentions the famous cricket match
in which a Professor was out in ignominious circumstances
The Professor confesses afterwards that he didn't know
whether to laugh or cry at the memory.

After the presentation of the formal gifts
he opens the unusually heavy gift.
"Surely it is not a theodolite" he says.
But it is a theodolite
with a message from his friends on a brass plaque.

We raise our glasses to this modest man,
friend and colleague to us all,
who has given forty years of service to the Department
and wish him happiness in his retirement.

And then the academic who dreamed of golf courses
gives me a hug, gets into his car
and sets off to improve his handicap.

original post