The Association of University Teachers Scotland has been paying tribute to former honorary secretary John Duffy, who has been seconded from Edinburgh University's alcohol research group to be research manager to the chief scientist at the Scottish Office.
AUT assistant secretary David Bleiman commented that Mr Duffy's students had been sent into the wider world armed with the finest statistical methods. They included David Wann, now director of funding for the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. "I think John must have taught David how to write very big formulae, even if you have very small numbers to start with,'' Mr Bleiman said.
He added that Mr Duffy's idiosyncratic sense of humour had often caused serious problems in the AUT Scotland office. Mr Duffy was in the habit of phoning secretary Ray Patterson in the guise of an aggrieved member, "usually of foreign nationality or in a state of inebriation or both''.
It was unfortunately impossible for Mrs Patterson to distinguish Mr Duffy from the real thing, and a genuine member had been greatly offended at being told: "Come off it, John, I'm too busy for this nonsense.''