Sandwiches are us

March 15, 2012

"A commercial breakthrough." That was how Desmond Ponzi, the manager of our staff snack bar, The Big Hub, described the fundamental changes he is making to his current "retailing strategy".

From now on, customers will be required to make their own sandwiches at home and then transport these to the snack bar, where Mr Ponzi and his staff will bundle them up together with a whole set of different and largely unappetising sandwiches (mango and Spam, taramasalata and marmalade) and then sell them on to other customers at an extraordinarily high price.

Our reporter asked Mr Ponzi how he had hit upon such an idea. There was after all something very original about a retailing venture that required sandwich consumers to pay a great deal of money for sandwiches that Mr Ponzi had acquired for absolutely nothing from sandwich makers.

Mr Ponzi conceded that the idea had not been entirely his own but had come to him "in a flash" while he was browsing through the journals section of the university library.

Furedi is out of line - Targett

Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has launched a strongly worded attack on Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent.

Targett described Furedi's recent assertion in Times Higher Education that the National Student Survey "infantilises students and corrodes academic integrity" as "exactly the type of negativistic thinking one associates with the worst excesses of sociology".

What Furedi totally overlooked in his "miserabilist analysis" was "the essentially democratic impact of the student survey". In the dark past, said Targett, some institutions acquired more prestige than others merely through the excellence of their teaching and research. But now, thanks to the NSS, "it is possible for a mediocre university to improve its standing through the persuasion, cajoling and actions short of bribery that constitute the new science of survey manipulation". He hoped this clarified the situation.

Management by numbers

"We're on our way!" That was the triumphalist response of Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our ever-expanding Human Resources team, to the news from the Higher Education Statistics Agency of another dramatic increase in the number of managers in higher education.

Ms Bimpson said she was "profoundly heartened" by the evidence that there is now one manager for every nine academics compared with the previous ratio of one to eleven.

She told The Poppletonian that she could readily remember the "bad old days" when the relative lack of managers meant that members of academic staff could go for a whole day without having to attend a single meeting with management or respond to an urgent and largely incomprehensible request from management or complete a very long form provided by management or explain to one part of management what had already been adequately explained to another part of management.

"One sometimes wonders", she said with one of her trademark chuckles, "how on earth they ever contrived to fill their time."

Thought for the week

(Contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Next week's seminar on self-discovery will be given by Dr L.B. Rebus (University of Vienna), who will outline the complex art of dream interpretation. His case study will be Dr L (Media and Cultural Studies), who regularly dreams of repeatedly stabbing our vice-chancellor through the heart with a large kitchen knife."

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