Thursday, 17 June 2010

(just for the record)

Driving onto campus I am greeted by students
bright in red T-shirts
who are acting as car park marshalls
for the College Open Day.

It is the last Board meeting of the year.
There are apologies from Japan, Serbia and Vietnam
but the room is full.
There are important matters to discuss.

The mood is sombre.
Times are hard for Higher Education
and particularly for Geography.
We wait to hear news of reductions in funding.

The Head of Department begins to speak.
At the end of the first hour
the Admissions Tutor leaves the room
to give the morning presentation
to prospective applicants and their parents.

Outside the campus
stretch limousines crawl up the hill
on the way to Royal Ascot,
oblivious to recession.

At the end of the second hour
the Admissions Tutor returns
and is visibly shocked when he realises
that we are still on the same agenda item.

In a short break between items
I phone the Exams Office.
They need another signature.
Apparently it is crucial.
The paper is faxed off.

At the end of the third hour
the Admissions Tutor leaves the room again
to give the afternoon presentation.
It starts to feel as though we are in a time warp.

The torrent of discussion continues
and as my mind goes numb
I see my hand writing
"explore differing positionalities".
What does it mean?

At the end of the fourth hour
the meeting ends and we stagger to the room
where lunch was laid out two hours ago.

Outside, the prospective applicants are starting to leave.
Tomorrow the Finalists' results will be published.
Endings and Beginnings overlapping.
And that is how it will be
for as long as I work in the Department.

I leave early and sit in the silence of my garden.
The scent of roses drifts towards me.


  1. and point 12 is perfection

  2. thank heavens for rose gardens at the end of the working day

  3. I often think "Thank heaven for the garden......"

  4. I must admit, I don't miss those marathon workplace meetings *at all*. I'm glad you have your roses.

  5. I always feel that education and especially higher education shouldn't be caught up in this business attitude. It's not what they're there for. The one certainty in academic life is that it all goes round the same circle. Tomorrow, the next lot of students will become graduates (or strictly speaking graduands, I think),someone will finish the A levels that confirm their September place, and someone somewhere will start making their application for the year after next. Enjoy the garden in this lovely weather.

  6. Ah! This "(Just for the record)" has the structure of a perfect short story. Love it.

  7. Point 11 gives rise to further questionning.

  8. I feel a little sad. Hope the roses soothed you.

  9. You must have been quite numb by the time you left...what a beautiful calming and restorative end to the day. Isn't nature wonderful :-)

  10. There were biscuits, though, surely? Those two-tiered tins?

  11. Alice, sometimes the beauty of your words makes my heart feel quite full, once again you painted a picture with your words.


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