Back in the Bosom

The glass lift shot up to the sixth floor. Bob didn’t even have time to gape at the terrifying drop into the atrium before he was stepping out of the lift, putting his box down, and fumbling in his pocket for the floor plan which showed him how to get to his new office. He looked around him. This new building was a lot nicer than the old tower block, but it was a bit confusing. Everything was grey, with miniscule little labels on the doors, as though the architect had thrown a tantrum about spoiling the lines or offering any kind of contrasting colours for the signage. Never mind thinking about the needs of middle-aged academics who wore bifocals, and needed large fonts. He wondered idly if architects were subject to the Disability Discrimination Act.

The old building, 1960s public architecture at its most functional, had just had long corridors down the middle of a very long, tall rectangle, with doors to the left or right. Here, there was a tessellated arrangement of glass-fronted rooms, moving away from the central atrium. He had been in before, to see where his office was, but he’d been walking with a colleague, and hadn’t really registered the route. He consulted his map. He should turn left from the lift, then right, then left again, then his office door should be on the right. Picking up the box, he set off. Left, right, left, right.

Actually, it was pretty straightforward. He wondered what his colleagues had been complaining about in the plethora of angry emails which followed the official moving-in to the new building. Finding the office, loathing the open plan arrangement, no space for all their stuff, the office was too hot, the office was too cold, the office was inaccessible to students…he had been expecting the worst. He put the box down again and swiped his ID card through the reader next to the door. He heard the lock click, slightly to his surprise – he hadn’t really expected ‘the system’ to be updated with his details yet, but maybe it had never actually registered his secondment. More likely. Opening the door, he stuck his foot in it while he turned to pick up the box. The large office was also confusing, with a lot of room dividers and bookcases separating the desks, giving an illusion of privacy. He tracked around for a couple of minutes until he recognised the area he’d been allocated.

Dumping the box on the empty desk, he sat down and looked at the blank space divider in front of him. He smiled to himself. Setting up the University College of North Burston had been fun, but he’d known all along it was a whimsical interlude. With the departure of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor who’d championed the idea, plus the imminent removal of Student Number Controls, there was no point in running a sideshow to try to leverage the system. Better to build student numbers back in the university, where, in all honesty, students would get a better deal. Bigger class sizes, yes, but he thought that was balanced the advantages of a permanent staff and support infrastructure, and even some research-led teaching. He had been pretty relieved when his plan to relinquish the students and the premises to Burston FE college, or BUF, as it was now branded, had been accepted. The University had recouped its minimal investment in the project. The second year students had been promised a transfer into the final year at Burston Central if they wanted it, so he’d probably be seeing plenty of them. And on top of that, he’d been promoted to Principal Lecturer for Student Experience in the department. He was quite happy to be back in the Accountancy department.

It was still early, and nobody else was in the office. At least, he didn’t think they were. It was harder to tell than he would have expected. He unpacked his box. He’d brought in four ‘University College of North Burston’ mugs, and he took them to the office kitchen area. A kitchen! After all of the fuss over kettles he’d endured when he shared an office with Martin. There were no kettles in the kitchen, though, just some kind of hidden device which dispensed almost-boiling water, or ice-cold water, if you preferred. He put the mugs on the shelf, wondering if anyone would notice. His foray into the semi-private sector seemed to have gone relatively un-noticed by his colleagues. Even Martin hadn’t said too much about casualisation, privatisation and thin ends of wedges. Well, everyone had their own concerns. He wondered if anyone would notice he was back, or if they’d really noticed he’d been away.

He made a cup of instant coffee and took it back to his desk. Plenty of time to get sorted out before anyone else came in.


Maybe I missed Bob and Sheila, or maybe HE just wasn’t making me cross enough, or i’d run out of daft things to fictionalise, I don’t know. Is there anything more ridiculous than a dormant blog? Why isn’t it just deleted? From an author’s perspective, I can’t understand why anyone still visits it, but oddly, they do (could be some kind of bot checking for updates, of course). This is just a bit of a filler to explain why Bob is back. However, I have a feeling that the teaching REF is going to set me off again…do let me know if you spot any idiocies.

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2 thoughts on “Back in the Bosom

    • ooh, no – i was thinking of a couple of other lovely northern post-92s and doing a bit of aggregation. Or they all have glass-walled offices and central atria…that seems possible! From standard red-brick to standard glazing in 150 years? Maybe in fifty years, the post-92s will be known as ‘atria universities’?

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