Delusions of languor

September 1, 2011

As we go to press, we learn with deep regret of the institutional confinement of Professor F.R. Beavis, Head of our Department of English and Related Studies.

It appears that this most unfortunate development was precipitated by the discovery that Professor Beavis had overstayed his statutory leave by nearly 24 hours.

Members of our Statutory Leave Enforcement Team who called on him at his Middle Poppleton home to inform him of this dereliction of duty had to force their way in, only to find Professor Beavis standing on the top landing of the stairs in little but a pair of multi-coloured swimming trunks with a Babewatch logo and a battered Panama hat.

After ignoring repeated requests to descend the stairs, he was formally reminded by megaphone of his violation of the terms of his statutory leave, whereupon he responded with what a spokesperson for the team described as "a torrent of delusional abuse".

Our reporter Keith Ponting (30) relates that this abuse initially attacked the entire concept of statutory leave, with Professor Beavis demanding to know what was wrong with terms such as "holiday", "vacation", "time out" and "getting away from it all".

He then turned with an aggressive wave of his hat to previous versions of statutory leave. "In the old days," he told those in the hallway, "we looked forward to our academic summer holidays for most of the year. We'd wander into the Enquiries Office and look longingly at that great long Magic Marker line on the Sasco wallchart denoting the length of our absence. We'd talk to colleagues about how we were going to spend that time. Yes, there'd be some weeks devoted to relaxation and pleasure, but then there'd be other weeks to read books on our subject, days to give considered attention to student theses and research reports, days to consider how we might revise and improve courses."

Get behind me, Gradgrind

As members of the Enforcement Team climbed on to the first steps of the staircase, Professor Beavis began to babble about the "golden days" when no emails or mobile phones meant that you were truly "absent from work a while", when there was the "ineffable pleasure of knowing that nobody, least of all university management, knew where you were. And didn't care. Those were the days when it was possible to hole up in the mountains of Tuscany, the beaches of Provence, the castles of Spain for weeks without hearing so much as a whisper of discontent from colleagues or administrators."

As the team crept up to the midpoint of the stairs, Professor Beavis appeared to address a spectral figure before him. "Hence, loathed Gradgrind!" he shouted. "Hence, all who think you can count and measure effort, involvement, commitment, impact! Hence, all who substitute ticks and double ticks for trust and responsibility! Hence, all who believe a management theory hardly sufficient to run a biscuit factory can be used to administer a place of learning! Hence, enemies of culture and civilisation!"

At this point, Professor Beavis launched himself from the landing with a cry of "Geronimo!".

He was spared serious injury only by the prompt action of the Enforcement Team, who proceeded to dress him in non-statutory leave apparel and arrange his transport to local rehabilitative facilities, where he is being treated for False Memory Syndrome.

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