Welcome, dear Reader. Come, sit beside me and enjoy the tinkling of the quadrangle’s water feature, the birds singing in the honeysuckle, the golden flash of astronomically expensive carp as they swim beneath the waterlilies, the sounds of tennis being played in the far distance by students here for their Professional English for Academic Purposes summer school.

While you are here, perhaps you would like cast an eye over the minutes of yesterday’s Emergency Departmental Meeting called by the Dean to appoint a replacement for our great leader Professor Beauregard, our dear lamented colleague Giselle?

They are as follows:

HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL

EDM

School of Hieroglyphology, Department of Runic Studies

 Present: The Dean; Jess (School Manager); Dr Ada Lamb (Senior Lecturer, Department of Runic Studies)

 Apologies: None

Agenda: Strategic consequences of continued absence of Prof G. Beauregard, Head, Department of Runic Studies.

The  Dean: Where is everyone?

The Dean: Well, we will just have to start without them.

The Dean: We’ll just wait another minute or two.

The Dean: [turning to Jess] Didn’t you send out my urgent email recalling all staff?

Jess: Oh yes! That is, I sent it to Dr Lamb as she wanted to make an amendment to the agenda, and she then forwarded it to everyone.

Dr Ada: [nods].

The Dean: Well.

The Dean: I can’t sit here all day waiting for them to turn up. We’d better get on with it.

Jess: I could murder a coffee.

The Dean: To the matter at hand, if you please.

Jess: Isn’t it strange that Giselle has gone AWOL when she was always here. I mean I would get in early because of the parking but she was already in before me and her emails always said sent at 5.03 AM from my Blackberry and then she would always be the last to leave you know once the cleaner even said to me he thought she worked here all night –

Dr Ada: [sneezes].

Jess: Bless you.

The Dean: Well the pressing issue as I see it is that the Department of Runic Studies has no Head, and term starts in a week. What will we do?

Jess: We could always appoint someone else.

The Dean: Excellent idea. I second that. Any ideas who?

Jess: …

Dr Ada: [little cough]

The Dean: I second that. In the absence of any other colleagues I see no option but to appoint Dr Lamb as Head of the Department of Runic Studies.

Dr Ada: I am willing to make this sacrifice for the short period of time I have remaining here. After that, you will have to sink without me.

The Dean: Or swim.

Dr Ada: I will of course take Professor Beauregard’s office until she returns.

Dr Ada: Jess, would you ask Estates to oil the French doors that open onto the patio?

Dr Ada: AOB, anyone?

Dr Ada: Dismissed.

Yes, dear Reader. It is lovely out here on the cobbles. Another coffee?

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