Because this is the annual International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I encourage all my readers of whatever sociocultural background to come together in union by putting your email address into the box on the right. </end-shamlessmarketingploy>
When handing in the first of my essays this term, I found the office full of people busily scribbling out their names with marker-pens. Because this term’s assessments are ‘contributory essays’ – presumably as opposed to the other sort which are just sent straight to landfill – they have to be anonymous, and students are identified only by candidate number.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of this secrecy is. I mean, I guess if my tutor saw ‘Gabriel Webber’ written on an essay she might connect it with the crate of expensive champagne I gave her 48 hours earlier and possibly inflate my mark, but what’s the harm in that? Students are supposed to use their initiative. I know that because Mr Plummer told me when I was applying for UCAS, just before I sent UCAS that box of Cuban cigars.
And I don’t know how the anonymity is supposed to work for people doing science degrees. It just takes one brief DNA test on a sheet of paper and its author could be identified instantly: and then the racist, sexist and biased essay-marking could really begin!
I was delighted when a cache of Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s emails leaked this week. Because before that, I never knew what the collective noun for ’emails’ was – I somehow expected it would be ‘a click of emails’.
Anyway, as if my week couldn’t get better, one of these emails came from Mrs al-Assad, and read:
Now aside from suggesting a new TV series entitled Dictators’ Wives, it suggests that a new series of books might be called for. Like this:
Shirley Woodman received the MBE this week, after a 24-year legal campaign to win compensation for victims of rape. All very laudable, but this is how her chat with Her Britannic Majesty allegedly went:
Her Maj: I hear you have had a very hard time.
Shirley Woodman: Ah, you know about it, us changing the law.
Her Maj: Yes, it’s very difficult to change the law.
Let me just get this straight: the Queen, Elizabeth “Royal Assent” Windsor, has bemoaned how difficult it is to change the law. Yeah, life’s tough isn’t it.
An Humble Address
Lizzie has actually had quite a busy week, also making a speech to MPs and Peers to celebrate the fact that she’s not died since 1952. And how many people can say that! But nobody could accuse her of being smug: “As your Queen, I have signed over 3,500 bills into law.”
Anyway, history seems to repeat itself. The last time we had a Queen, she asked that the Prince of Wales, her eldest son, be given £36,000 by Parliament because he was having trouble supporting his children – one of whom grew up to become King George V, so clearly a very deserving cause for social welfare benefits.
Anyway, the old Queen’s request was strongly opposed by one of her most humble members of the House of Commons:
Stars and Tsars
Yup, Station Stars and Train Tsars is the name of the staff awards ceremony that’s just been held by my comrades at Southern Rail. Chris Burchell, their so-called Managing Director, said, “These awards are not easily won. Only those who go the extra mile to make every journey better are considered.” [Note to self: insert gratuitous joke about on-train staff going an extra mile.]
I gleaned this exciting piece of gossip from an edition of Southern News, Southern’s imaginatively titled in-house newsletter, that I found lying around campus. Astonishingly, almost all of it was self-praising drivel about Z-list awards that the company’s won! Another was, “Passengers at Bexhill had plenty to be proud of when their station took the top prize in the National Station of the Year Competition.” Yeah. Because the passengers were instrumental.
But at least the company isn’t desperately trying to fill space in its newsletter by inventing stories altogether. Oh hang on…
Sale of the century
Prime Minister Davey C has unveiled plans to sell of major roads and motorways, according to The Guardian. “The prime minister’s plan would see sovereign wealth funds and pension funds given the right to lease roads over a long period. They would be set a series of targets to, for example, carry out improvements.”
Once the roads have been bought, these improvements could include the building of houses and hotels (see left). The roads will be sold in small groups, starting with the cheapest – Old Kent Road and Whitechapel – with the ultimate intention being to sell off Park Lane, four major railway stations and all public utilities.
[Intellectual graffiti on tiles in Library toilets…] “Grout Expectations […] The Grout Gatsby.”
Tutor: “I saw a peacock on campus this morning!” / Me: “I saw a badger the other night.” / Tutor: “A badger? Have you ever seen anything more exotic? Like a porcupine?” / Me: “What?”
[Tutor in a rigorously-planned seminar…] “Does anyone want to say anything about the Vietnam War or share their plans for the holidays or anything?”
“Irregular warfare, you never know what’s going to happen. The enemy might be hiding in the bushes!” [The cunning devils…]