Happy times at the Manor House (Rousse)

TPR and I lived in two modest suites at the University’s of Birmingham’s Manor House. In the summer months we had the run of the building, but when term started in September we were more restricted. For example, it was dangerous to use the narrow back stairs when there were so many people about. However, we enjoyed greeting the new students at the beginning of the new academic year and wished them all the best for as happy a time that we enjoyed as first years 32 years earlier.

Christmas time was also special at Manor. This year we hosted a dinner party to which we invited JK, RG and DT. While TPR prepared the meal and I opened presents to see whether anyone had given us any condiments that would go with the meal. The hundreds of tiny jars of jam were probably not suitable for this purpose.

After the meal we lounged in the sitting room and watched the cattle in the snow on the beach. DT got all teary when she saw her cattle-herder cousins in the valley, but cheered up considerably after a quick phone call with them.

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Stegosaurus and ghost live side-by-side in Edinburgh basement (Rousse)

ECM and I called into L and T’s house on the way to work. Down in their basement they showed us their stegosaurus and another small unidentified dinosaur. Next to the two creatures was a manikin onto which was pinned a white cloth hood and cloak. I wondered out loud what this could be.

“Don’t mention this to L” whispered T, “but it’s the ghost of her mother.”

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Hot university students (Rousse)

I begged EH to remove two lines from the minutes of the meeting. She refused, not least because I had already approved them and they were already a public record of university business. I would just have to live with the two entries, both of which read along the lines of “This student is very good-looking”.

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Cool gift bags (Rousse)

I shared out my collection of gift bags amongst my surprised colleagues. First of all they found it astonishing that students gave me presents. They also thought it very odd that I kept the wrappings in the fridge in my office. However, they agreed that the larger bags straight from the ice compartment were handy for cooling down their hot skin in the summer.

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Staff fired over spilt coffee (Rousse)

Our maid Norah split TPR’s mug of coffee all over our white bed linen. She didn’t flinch.

“Don’t you realise that you could have scalded me?” I shouted from under the covers. From the look on her face, it appeared that this was no concern of hers at all.

I later told TPR that we would have to get rid of her and all the others. We couldn’t run our busy household with such incompetent staff.

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Abba dancing disappointment (Rousse)

The dancing started accidentally. I just lifted the needle on to the track of the LP that happened to be on the turntable and everyone took to the floor. I thought it would all be over in three minutes, but then came calls for more. Perhaps there was an old Abba album in the pile of vinyl by the record player? There was, but none of the songs listed on the cover were familiar to me.

By now a crowd of male friends had gathered around the ancient equipment. I wondered if we could connect up the iPhone and work our way through the party playlist. “Impossible” said TPR as he shook his head. The dancing was over.

This was a great disappointment to JS, who arrived late and missed all the fun.

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Panel deals drugs at University interview (Rousse)

I had been primed to ask the interview candidate about three publications that he used when teaching the Information Delivery module. One of these was co-authored by me, with the candidate himself.

This was just one of the strange things about the whole interview experience. It also included a movie clip build-up, a full audience seated in a lecture theatre with the candidate amongst its members, and an interview panel of over a dozen staff, the majority of whom chosen to ensure that its composition met strict diversity and equality requirements.

I waited patiently for JK, as interview chair, to pass the questioning over to me so that I could play my role on the panel. He confused the audience by instead giving me a white EpiPen, in full view of everyone.

“Good grief, they’re all now going to assume I’m a drug addict” I muttered to him under my breath. “I hope that you will announce that this is a hayfever treatment and nothing more sinister”.

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