"We absolutely deny any suggestion of concealment." That was the bold assertion by Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of RAE Strategy, when confronted last week with the news that 74 academic staff had been discovered in a large cellar beneath the Chemistry Block.
These academics might still have been confined but for the alertness of a local pensioner, Freda Jolly (89), who was out walking her dog.
"Mimsie suddenly started sniffing at the side of the building," she told our reporter Keith Ponting (30). "I went over and I heard cries coming from below the ground and found a large bolted door. When I undid the bolt, out tumbled all these poor people. I always said there was something funny about people from the university."
Mr Bryan admitted that all the "discovered" staff were research-inactive but denied that they had been hidden to improve the university's RAE submission. "They were not so much hidden," he said, "as categorially reassigned." (Mimsie is nine and a half years old.)
Balancing the books
"Nobody's perfect." That was the reaction of Louise Bimpson, our Corporate Director of Human Resources, to the complaint by Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, that physics departments contained too many upper middle-class white men. While admitting that the description fitted the Poppleton Department of Physics, which currently consists of 14 upper middle-class white men, she claimed that such imbalances were endemic in universities.
"Our Sociology Department, for example, contains more than the average number of lower-middle-class whingers. There is also an abundance of cigarette-smoking aesthetes in the English Department, a surfeit of very elderly men wearing brown corduroy in the History Department, a plenitude of demented crystal-gazers in the Department of Complementary Medicine and a superfluity of people in higher management with extreme language difficulties," she said.
Ms Bimpson said she expected such differences would iron themselves out in time. "You only need to look back to the bad old days when this university was seriously overloaded with academics committed to a life of the mind. Just look at it now."
We are pleased to announce that Doctor K.W. Kettelby, a Research Assistant in the Department of Molecular Biology, has had his contract extended by two months.
"I am absolutely delighted by the news," he told The Poppletonian. "Although I've been working as a researcher at Poppleton for the past 24 years, this is the first time that I've been offered such a long-term contract."
Professor G.P. Erlich, who confirmed Kettelby's new appointment, told The Poppletonian that the decision had not been an easy one. "Although Kettelby has been a first-rate researcher in our department for nearly a quarter of a century, all of us on the appointments board were anxious that this extension should not be taken as a sign that he was being given 'a job for life'."
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
I know that my "thoughts" are read by good people who believe in many different gods and by some who can't even bring themselves to believe in any god at all, but who could fail to be moved by this little reminder of the season that will soon be upon us all:
"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."