Earlier in the year, Geoff, Alison, Sally and Phil had a preliminary meeting to discuss the Biology course review. Since then, Alison has left and Sally and Phil are joint acting course leaders. Geoff has called them to a progress meeting.
“Are we waiting for someone from Quality?”
“Yes, didn’t we decide last time that we needed someone at our meetings to tell us about, er, new procedures and stuff?”
Geoff didn’t miss a beat. “I assumed that you two would be sorting that out, as joint acting course leaders, responsible for the review.”
“What about Jay?”
“The course rep. He came to our last meeting.”
“Oh, yes, of course. Well, again, you should be sorting that out.”
Phil bristled. “Well, Geoff, you called this meeting, so we just assumed that you would remember to invite everyone.”
Geoff narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Sally laughed nervously. “Shall we just get on with it for now? I’m sure there’s lots we can do, anyway, and now we know what to do, Phil and I can invite the others next time.”
Geoff sighed. “Yes, fine.”
He looked down at his file. “Right. I presume the strategic approval has gone through ok?”
Phil and Sally looked at each other. “Strategic approval?” Sally smiled encouragingly at Geoff.
“We discussed it last time, Sally. The PVC has to check everything before it proceeds to full review. Alison said she’d get the paperwork in before she left. Where’s it up to?”
“Um. I don’t know. I, er, we, er…..” She looked down at her own notes, and shuffled them a bit.
“Does the PVC know that Alison has left?” Phil still had a challenging tone.
“I don’t suppose the PVC cares about every senior lecturer who leaves, Phil.” Geoff could sound quite nasty when he felt like it.
“I just meant – perhaps all the correspondence has been going to Alison?”
“Oh. Good point.” Geoff wrote something down on his pad. “I’ll get someone to check with her PA.”
“So, what do we need to do next, Geoff?”
Geoff sighed again. “I presume you’ve looked at the process on the Quality Department website?”
“Well, yes, but…..”
“It should be obvious then.” Geoff gathered the notes together. “You know. Student consultation, don’t skimp on that, it’s flavour of the month, um, library consultation, new module specifications, find an external, check with the external examiners, not in that order, the usual stuff.” He looked up. “We can’t do anything here. We haven’t got the right people, we haven’t got the right documents, we’re months behind. It’s a complete shambles. You two are really going to have to sort this one out quickly. Make another appointment with Holly, and make sure the right people are invited.”
Phil and Sally stared at him.
“Right, I’ve got a million and one other things to do, and I’m sure you have.” Geoff stood up. “Don’t leave it too long to fix up a meeting.” He walked back over to his desk and sat down with his back to them.
Phil and Sally took the hint.
When he was sure that they’d gone, Geoff opened his bottom drawer and took out a small hip-flask. He took a swig, and sighed again.
When he’d been a young lecturer, each Head of Department had a special cupboard, with two types of sherry and a set of glasses, all provided by the College. Perfect for pre-lunch meetings, or anything that went on after 4pm. Those were the days. Now you couldn’t even have a bloody kettle in your room. Well, they weren’t getting his hip-flask.
He wondered if he’d been a bit harsh with Phil and Sally. They were new to the role, and Alison had done everything for years without any apparent effort. No wonder nobody else knew how to do anything. She’d infantilised them, that was what it was. Good word, that. He took another swig, and replaced the flask regretfully in the drawer. It had to last a bit longer.
Wading Through Treacle is entirely fictional. You can follow @wadingtreacle on Twitter, or like the Wading Through Treacle page on Facebook to be informed of updates, or click on ‘follow’ at the bottom of this screen to register for updates from Wading Through Treacle. Feel free to send Wading Treacle accounts of daft things which could be fictionalised by email: firstname.lastname@example.org