University measures of excellence: showers, smoked haddock and guest speakers (Rousse)

If my life wasn’t complicated enough, I accepted another part-time post at the University of Aberdeen, and was also considering a return to Canada.

An advantage of Aberdeen was that CM worked in the university gym. He offered to sneak me into the spa where the most sophisticated showers in the world were installed. However, when I popped in to take a shower I was sorely disappointed. The atmosphere reminded me of a Virgin Active gym on a busy morning, with the changing room crammed with half-dressed members rushing to get ready for work. I wanted to complain to CM that the reports of the marvellous showers had been exaggerated, but he was too busy selling fish from the gym reception desk to enter into a conversation. The only way to win his attention was to ask for half a pound of smoked haddock, which he gladly wrapped for me. He was less impressed when I confessed that I had no money on me, and asked if I could pay him back later.

Back on the main campus TPR was delivering a lecture about his career in the computing industry as a guest speaker in one of BC’s classes. The room was packed with students that I hadn’t seen for years, including AB who graduated in 1995. I wondered whether they had returned very late to prepare for a resit exam? I sat at the back of the classroom so as not to put TPR off his performance. From here his slides were very impressive. He must have spent weeks assembling all the pictures and animations. It was just a pity that he didn’t talk to the slides himself. The students were completely bewildered as words and images whizzed past on the screen with no explanation from the guest speaker. Even I, who had witnessed TPR’s entire career, couldn’t make any sense of this.

The students’ hands shot up at the end of the slideshow. They were desperate to understand the content of the presentation, concerned that there might be a question on this in the exam. It now dawned on TPR that he should have spoken to his slides. Crippled by embarrassment, he did his best to answer the questions, but it was clear to all that he was impatient to escape the classroom. At 10:00 he shot out of the room and down one of the back staircases to the car park. I tried my best to follow him, but he’d disappeared too quickly. I never found him. Instead I got hopelessly lost in the warren of back stairs.

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