"Thanks, but no thanks." That was the shock response from Mrs Lillian Daunting, a spokesperson for our university cleaning staff, to the proposal from the Unite union that the children of cleaners might be offered tuition-fee discounts.
Speaking to The Poppletonian, Mrs Daunting said: "Quite frankly, we wouldn't want any children of ours to be taught by people who seem incapable of arriving at work before 10 in the morning or staying beyond 4 in the afternoon. Nor would we want them to follow the habits of people who seem empirically unable to distinguish between the floor and a waste-paper basket, or analytically incapable of unravelling their own telephone cords. Neither would we wish our children to fall under the malign influence of people who bury cigarette stubs in flower pots and secrete pornographic magazines in the bottom left-hand drawers of their desks."
Mrs Daunting agreed that her hours of work meant that she had rarely encountered an actual academic, but she claimed that she did have one brief interaction with a don who arrived early as a result of an alarm clock error.
The academic was disconcerted to find someone in his office and demanded an explanation. When Mrs Daunting explained that she had been cleaning his office for the past 22 years, he expressed surprise and said that he had always assumed the offices cleaned themselves.
Dr T. Kendall, the Head of our Department of Statistics, has warmly welcomed the expert report recently presented to the Economic and Social Research Council that claims that his discipline is in a "fragile and weakened condition". He claimed that in recent years the significance of the statistics department to the university had fallen from 0.05 to 0.10 and that the salaries of his staff were negatively correlated to measured effort and were in danger of going into infinite regression.
But our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, described the complaints as falling well within the central limits of complaining in the university and suggested that the statistics department was engaged in special pleading. He added: "I'm afraid that's what happens when dons are allowed too many degrees of freedom."
Our vice-chancellor has no intention of emulating Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, who has recently sought to break down "the hierarchical barrier" by participating in a university football team, becoming involved in a dance competition and reading out a message from a friend that described him as "not a plonker".
The vice-chancellor told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that he believed such behaviour was out of line with the post-Browne Review view that vice-chancellors should be neither seen nor heard.
However, he confirmed that this would not affect his public appearance on Maundy Thursday when he will perform the traditional ceremony of dispensing groats to a selection of paupers selected from the university's junior teaching staff.
Thought for the Week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
"Next week's Relationship Counselling Club will focus on erectile dysfunction. Members only."