All we want for Christmas

Malcolm Gillies awaits a sleigh and nine tiny (UKBA-compliant) reindeer

December 13, 2012
Christmas tree

Dear Santa (if I may),


I hope that you and Mr/Ms Claus have had a good year and are all limbered up for the Christmas deliveries.

Sorry about last year. We forgot to turn off the fire. We can’t afford the heating this year, so just drop the presents down the chimney. No worries!

Things were going sort of well here until mid-year, when the border guard dogs came around and bared their teeth.

I’m embarrassed to say that we have quite a few requests this year, as good cheer is off. Austerity is still in, so it’s a full sleigh-load of goodies that I’m asking for (no substitutes please).

1. Students

I wondered if your reindeer would like to sign up for our master’s in transportation studies. Well, actually, only the ones from the European Union or European Economic Area: any who have crept over the border from Russia are not welcome, I’m afraid! (Actually, where does Blitzen come from?) And any from the North Pole - well, forget it. What country is that in, anyway?

But for those who are eligible, we have an “affordable quality education” package, so we could do you a good deal - especially if most of your entourage sign up early. Mind you, they must speak well and have their vaccination certificates in order. And any absences from early morning class after social frolics - Prancer and Dancer, please note - will not be tolerated.

2. ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards

Two, please. We got past Go OK, and picked up the £200, but then we landed on Super Tax (£150), Community Chest (£150) and Go Back Three Spaces. And then, worst of all, Go to Jail - where we still are, as we are having trouble throwing doubles to get out.

But a nice chap we met at the High Court gave us some Chance cards, and our properties in Whitechapel and Islington are returning some quite passable rents at the moment.

3. London Oyster cards

We used to be really proud of being in, of and for London. But everyone now seems to hate us for coming from London. They think we’re bankers - or at least I think that’s what they’re saying.

We’re not bankers, but living here still costs a packet. And we do pay the London Living Wage. Honest. So, can we have 28,000 Oyster cards, as we can’t afford to use the Underground or even Boris bikes any more? And the buses take for ever.

4. Work vouchers

Many of our students would like a bit more work, even though we’ve tried really hard this year to provide them with it. “Employability” goes up and up, and our starting salaries are better even than those offered by many of the Jack Russells (although they don’t believe that’s possible, as they’re “world class”).

However, some of our graduates don’t have starting salaries because they haven’t started. And others are being screwed around by “internships” and “work experience” scams, with all work and no pay. So, can you throw in 5,000 six-month “real work” vouchers to get some more of our graduates out of the ditch and on to the road to gainful employment?

5. Subscription to a nice broadsheet newspaper

Some of those media people have been naughty recently. In fact, very naughty indeed. Even your sleigh’s phone was hacked, and last year’s big suite of special presents for government officials was leaked to the Views of the World. They weren’t very kind to us, either, following our run-in with the guard dogs. So we’d like a subscription to a paper that is wholesome, well-read, and, er, knows what hard luck in central London is all about - and how to report it.

6. Research stars

We’ve been working very hard on assessing who is worth what for the research excellence framework. It is very divisive, although everyone has tried terribly hard to be polite and play the game. They get all dressed up and try to strut their best stuff.

So what about 200 extra four-stars, then, to provide more of an incentive? (No, we don’t want 400 two-stars: that’s not the same at all!) And please give us as many as possible in the sciences - such as sleigh engineering or ice-sheet shrinkage studies - as some of the others aren’t “strategically important” and are valued less than a lump of coal.

Season’s Greetings!

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