Naughty and Knight

June 9, 2006

I read that Peter Knight is finally to hang up his mace at Birmingham. For so many years the bête noire of higher education, there must be a sackful of Knightisms around for our delectation. Here's just one.

Peter hosted a meeting of vice-chancellors at the height of the fuss about his refusal to withdraw a book of male anatomical photographs (of, shall we just say, unusual proportions) by Robert Mapplethorpe from his library, citing academic freedom. He was, at the time, being threatened with police prosecution under the Obscenity Act, with the spectre of a prison sentence mooted - not that this bothered him a jot.

To enliven a somewhat dull agenda, he circulated the offending book with the tea and biscuits, the inference being that it would contribute to the in-service education and training of some of the newer members present.

Well, it certainly did that, as the subsequent spluttering into tea cups verified. But the lone female vice-chancellor? Distinctly underwhelmed. We assumed she had seen it all before.

Tony Wood


University of Luton, 1993-98

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