Voices off: Don't mention the Axis! That's the next War. Sorry, lads, I've started on Axis [look at the post heading f'chrissake] but a very different beast altogether. If you've been reading The Blob since it was born 6 years ago then a) you are in a very small set b) you might be forgiven for thinking that The Institute has but one teacher - by the name of Bob. That is not true of course but reads that way because of an early policy decision to preserve [a thinly veiled] anonymity and therefore allow me considerable freedom to tell it like it is. Thus The Blob has reported on events in my classrooms and labs; on visiting speakers and other public events; on some of the absurdities of management; on what I read in the papers . . . but decided I wasn't going say anything negative about my teaching colleagues or the secretarial staff or the technicians. There have been times when I've been disposed to write about these people because they had really annoyed me, disrespected the students, or failed spectacularly to do their job: but I've held fire. De collega nil nisi bonum, eh?
In October last year I had a "difference of opinion" with two of the other lecturers about the conduct of final year research projects. It was quite surprising to hear this first coming at me by scuttlebutt through intermediaries and very surprising when it came up and was minuted in a Faculty Meeting a few days later. But it didn't surprise me that one of the youngsters had chosen a Jacques Bonhomme open-forum approach while the other had preferred a tittle-tattle SoS snark of snake route. Each fellow was naturally behaving to type. Predictably these events caused a mild shit-storm of indignation - who would be next for trial by innuendo?? There was a bit of an enquiry as to whether there was any substance in the allegations: if there is going to be bad-mouthing in the scientific community, then it would be scientific to have the allegations both fact-checked and evidence based. Last week we had the next Faculty Meeting, when I was expecting the issue to be put to bed. But it never happened. That was partly because a far bigger management shit-storm blew up which took a lot of deliberation to decide about. But it was also because I didn't feel righteous enough about the disagreement to insist on another difficult discussion eating into everyone's dinner hour.
For about 10 years I was the father of teenage girls, who were thankfully triple-M monogamous and minimally moody through the walking-out process. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with another father-of-girls and asked "Is D still going with that Most Unsuitable Bloke From Enniscorthy MUBFE?" Apparently not, he'd been dumped a while ago (and good riddance). I then asked The Dad if any of the parade of dated lads were liked by the parents - even if they were considered to be unsuitable for their daughters. Didn't get a coherent answer to that one but it seems possible:- young feller who is polite, helpful, deferential and funny but also feckless, spendthrift, and far too frequently drunk. People are complex and interesting because they are multi-dimensional.