Archive for April, 2009

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The funniest email, ever.

April 26, 2009

Dear Liz,

Greetings from LST. Well, a few things have happened since you left. The whole of the rest of W3 [my class] have left the College. You probably heard that they spent the weekend marching up and down the pavement out front with protest signs saying “Bring Liz Back!” and “No Liz, No W3” and “You say ‘Goodbye,’ we say ‘Cello’!” On Monday morning, when Iris [Registrar] and Adrian [Academic Secretary and Lecturer] went out to negotiate their demands and Iris said that she really had no control over the matter, the whole of W3 and many in W2 just quit the College outright. I think BOTH sides said things they didn’t really mean, the challenging to duels thing got out of hand and I accept W3’s statement that the torching of the LST signs at the entranceway wasn’t their doing. There’s been rumours around town that they’re going to buy one of the abandoned storefronts on Green Lane and set up a rival college. Marriott and the other T2 and 3 students had a press conference (in the middle of their own hunger strike, bless ’em) denouncing the extreme measures of the music students. And all the Counselling students continue talking to, or at least listening, nodding and offering tissues to, both sides of the dispute.

Meanwhile, there’s confusion over your room. An anonymous message came in by bicycle courier offering Iris 4 times the full rental fees for the use of your room. Local real estate agents got wind of all this somehow and several property speculators have jumped in, starting a huge bidding war. It was the same day that Simon [Our new Principal, and my Formation Tutor] unveiled the blue plaque saying “Liz Albery lived here” that the first of the tens-of-millions-pound bids came in, we’re guessing from an Arab-Japanese cartel, though John-Paul [a lecturer, who is on Sabbatical in the USA!] suspects it’s a dummy corporation front for the Russian mafia — the same branch that collaborated with the Israeli secret service to assassinate Kennedy. It appears they got involved because of Gordon Brown’s statement that the British government would not be drawn into bidding for your room, but would support the college’s efforts to secure a good price.

It’s all this that is responsible for our sudden ability to dream big on the new buildings. The prefab education block replacing the whole back end of the College put up in record time this weekend was just the start! I have to say having my old office be the last part of the old building that remains is a very strange feeling. I’m getting used to the connecting door that leads to the rest of my new office suite. The private kitchen and library are going to be really useful, but I can’t imagine I’m ever going to have need for that size of a Gallery and the paintings they supplied aren’t all that good… I love the wee balcony, but it does seem a waste when there are homeless people all around us…!

No one can used to the new library! The artificial intelligence in those robotic arm book pickers is amazing when you consider all they have to work on is a scanned handout of the lecturers’ handouts. If only they could READ the books and articles they select instead of just delivering them to your room with the neatly typed-out bibliography!

And everyone agrees that the Aldis rebuild is a huge success. On today’s depressed market, the pink veined alabaster and goldleaf covered marble were cheap as chips and we saved literally a pile of money by avoiding getting an architect to draw up plans from scratch, but using already existing plans and scaling them down to size…. you know, if you put little sail boats in the parking area in front, and lie down on the tarmac, looking up, it feels just like you’re really IN Sydney harbour!!!

None of this makes up, of course, for the major disruption that started yesterday. The loss of the whole of the front car park and laundry facilities is hard to bear, I don’t care what the new skyscraper crystal tower chapel/luxury flats complex is going to look like, even if they do get it delivered next week (the council is currently fighting it, arguing that the huge lorries and cranes on Green Lane will cause major traffic disruption (like they cared when THEY wanted to rennovate!). Simon has hopes, I think, that having the whole east wing of one floor as a dedicated Cello Appreciation and Practice Area will help to attract back the disaffected W2 and 3 students… Adrian is cautiously optimistic. As for the basement parking garage, I still think having the drawbridge over the new dolphin pond operate via swipe cards is asking for trouble.

But, listen to me!! Here I am writing paragraph after paragraph about the superficial changes to the APPEARANCE of the College when what you’re probably more interested in are the REAL changes to the people.

Let me assure you that no one was more surprised than I when Lord Carey, Simon and the Prin of Middlesex appeared at the door of my office with the circlet crown (the sapphires are such a deeper blue than the pictures you’ll have seen on the news, by the way). I didn’t know UK Colleges could have a “Kaiser” as well as a Principal and President! Believe me, I had nothing like that in mind when I took the day last week to clean up my office and get all those books back to the library and random papers thrown away. I intend to rule with a fist of iron or maybe brushed aluminum, but clothed in a glove of styrofoam. I have already, I think, clearly signalled this intent by relaxing the death penalty for late essays, providing exceptions for people with doctor’s certificates or cake.

Nor have the shockwaves really settled on Graham’s [Lecturer in Systematic Theology and BA Course leader] sudden conversion and membership in the Plain English Campaign. I think his decision to limit his vocabulary to the most common 37 English words is nearly as extreme as the 3-year transition to becoming a fully Esperanto (with real-time earphone translation to Welsh) Institution, but that’s how the Academic Board voted on his suggestion, so we all have to learn to live with it.

Plans for the new BA in Theology and Plumbing course are coming along well, but trying to appoint faculty members who can teach on both that and the new Theology and Astrophysics programme is proving a challenge. I’m not sure we really thought that one through sufficiently. And you may not have heard: with the aid of an imaginatively concealed little tank of helium, Robert [NT lecturer and my dissertation supervisor] has been appointed the Course Leader for the new MA in Theology and Talking In A Funny Voice. The seminar discussions for those modules are now syndicated on satellite TV stations in thirty nations across the globe and are up for The Czilly … the Czeck Republic’s award for the very best in comedy television. Robert is, justifiably, very proud. And squeaky.

As for David’s [Head of Music dept.] spiritual journey, well, not all of us are as worried as others. It’s really great to have his constant friendly presence in the hallway morning, noon and night… and nice to see him so happy, dancing around like that. Behind the tambourine, pony tail and orange robes, he’s still a conservative evangelical, able to sign our statement of faith and everything. He doesn’t FORCE anyone to buy the little flowers. And people are making too much of the whole cows thing… lots of people have pets! He NEVER calls them sacred, and as long as we all remember to keep the gate to the tennis courts and the back door to the library shut, they’re not actually harming anything.

Other than that, though, things here are exactly the way you left them.

See you,

Conrad

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Protected: Here’s M.E.

April 24, 2009

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Henrietta

April 22, 2009

Isn’t you’re average cuddly family pet…

I was laying in the garden face down on a blanket, dozing. I was disturbed my a movement by my head, initially I thought it was mum trying to move away quietly, but when something hit my head, I was about to shout at mother… anyway, to my surprise it was Henrietta (our Tortoise) head-butting me! Cheeky thing!

Mum got her some food and I hand fed her, which was pretty amazing, I’ve fed her before, but I’ve never known her to come up this close… she was about 10cm from my head – I was looking right into her eyes and stuff! Anyway, she loves lettuce and cucumber, although the skin is a bit tough for her sometimes! She then tried to nibble my finger – her teeth hurt when they come together! She had some more cucumber, and I thought she was chocking, as her eyes were watering and she didn’t look happy but she was breathing okay… she lost interest in the food for a while and still didn’t seem happy. Then she left me a nice surprise at the end of my blanket and walked away. Cheers love!

At least she’s healthy!

Naughty Tortoise!

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Sunshine

April 20, 2009

I sat and read my Bible out in the garden today. It was good.

Must remember sunscreen in the future!

Yay, Summer!

Saw some pretty summer dresses. I don’t have any money, so didn’t even try them on 😦

I had tea at Colette’s house in their back garden. After stealing their wifi, also outside 🙂

The Sun makes me happy! Yay!

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Dreams (not the nasty ones)

April 19, 2009

‘A dream delayed is not a dream denied when you live by faith and not by sight’

So there.

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Protected: On being human

April 17, 2009

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Trains

April 16, 2009

Train fares seem to have gone up, ridiculously. I know St P to Nottingham has always been more expensive than Kings X to Newark (which is also quicker), but still. £35 for a single! I could pay less than that for a tank of fuel in a car and get further than there and back… But then, it saved me having to concentrate and all that.

Then they no longer appear to have wifi. An issue.

I got quite excited when we stopped at ‘East Midlands Parkway’ which is a new station, brand new. Granted it has been a while since I’ve gone to Nottingham rather than Newark from London, but Mum could pick me up after work this way… But we always used to pass the big power station going through lots of fields… now the station is next to the cooling towers. How exciting. Well, okay, probably not.

Trying to find things to occupy my mind, the train station did this. For a while at least.