Laurie Taylor Column

April 18, 2003

"How many bosses instruct subordinates to convey unwelcome information on their behalf, partly to highlight their own superiority and partly to evade liability or confrontation?' - Valerie Atkinson , The THES, April 11

Ah, Maureen, there you are. What the dickens is that funny smell?

Flowers, Professor Lapping.

Who on earth gave you those?

I did.

Really? Well, look I can't stand around chatting any longer. I'm up to my eyes this week. First of all, there's the problem of Quintock's conference expenses. Drop him an email saying that there's no money left in the kitty. Try to give the impression that this was a difficult decision to make. And then send a firm disciplinary letter to those five third-year students who haven't yet delivered their project. Warn them of the consequences unless it's handed in by Friday.

Then there's the business of Odgers missing his lecture to take part in that anti-war demonstration. Best not to make an issue of this or we'll have him bleating on about academic freedom. So, have an informal word and say I'm really on his side but if he does it again it would put me in an invidious position with the vice-chancellor.

Cancel Quintock's travel claim, threaten five students, pacify Mr Odgers. Anything else I could possibly do to ease your load?

Not for the moment. At least I've made a start on the backlog.

So you have.

Oh yes, one last thing. Those flowers remind me that it's Mrs Lapping's birthday tomorrow. Would you be an absolute angel and pick me up a similar bunch during your lunchtime? Nothing too special.

And how many kisses would you like me to put on the card?

Maureen, I've warned you before. Sarcasm simply doesn't suit you.

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