I’d never before applied for an academic job where all short-listed candidates were interviewed together. The panel comprised two well-respected academics: the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of an English university, who – quite out of character – had turned bad cop for the afternoon, plus his boss. The latter shouted instructions across the hall from another nearby room. They shared their time on each of us equally, giving the five of us two questions each. I went first and hoped that my answer showed leadership potential.
The second question hurled in my direction forced me to criticise my fellow candidates. In response to “Why should we give you the job?” I replied that the two Chinese candidates were without a hope because they couldn’t speak English, and that it would be impractical to employ MEB since she would have to relocate from Manchester to take up a position at Heriot-Watt University. MEB glared at me in response. That left something to say about IA of Glasgow University sitting opposite me. I suggested that he was my only real competition.
Not long after I left campus the news came through that the interview panel agreed that I was the strongest candidate for the role. I now faced a dilemma. Would I really resign from my current post and take up this new one? A fresh start at a different university was a very tempting prospect, especially given that I would have responsibility for a huge range of projects on the Romantic movement and Victorian art. The main drawback would be taking up driving again to reach the out of town campus. I needed to discuss this further with my family.
Back at the White House in the upstairs kitchen I found my mother making stuffing for the Christmas turkey. My father was next to her frying bacon rashers. They were both at a loss to advise me. However, in the dining room, my niece AF and her friends HH and LA willingly shared their opinions. With their help, I resolved to hand in my resignation the very next day.