Now that so-called higher education has turned into a government cash cow, institutions of advanced learning are ramming as many fee-paying students in as possible, whilst simultaneously lowering the entrance requirements. The cynical may consider that this is because they have to show the actual attendance numbers in the lectures to obtain the government
hand out contribution to the holiday fund salaries and running costs. In the hallowed groves of academe, janitors with wide brooms are paid quite a bit to sweep up hovering students and pop them into the nearest room to bump up numbers. Many years later, if the student has been able to buy enough exam results, the system, if we can call it that without laughing, is likely to produce interesting outcomes, however briefly.
‘Prisoner at the bar, I sentence you to be taken from this place to a place where you will be ploated, have your leg hairs singed, an apple placed in your mouth and be roasted at sorry, wait a minute, what do you mean inappropriate? All right I’ll try again. I sentence you to be sieved into dariole moulds, topped with whipped cream what now? Really? Third time lucky, I sentence you to be minced finely and pressed into a greased, lined, half pound loaf tin…….’
‘Breathe in, out again. Cough. Move your arm like this. Yes, I see the trouble. Your joints have dried out. Have you been placed beside a radiator through the winter? I think you have, look, the veneer is coming off round that bracket on your face. It’s easily cured, take this glue, squeeze it into every crack and hole you can find, clamp your legs up as tight as you can with these and don’t move for twenty four hours. Next day get someone to give you two coats of this varnish all over. I know this will work for certain, none of the other patients have come back at all.’
‘Aisle three, unless they’re in an alternate universe. Sorry, sir, no we don’t believe in big tins of biscuits anymore, you’ll find them in the Heisenberg aisle in discrete packets. Are you looking for something in that fridge, Madam? If you stand there any longer you’re going to get hot feet because of the first law of thermodynamics. No you don’t need a lever or a fulcrum to get the yoghurt, I’ll reach it for you.’
‘Come on! Good politician! Good politician! Well done, on your hind legs and…………..speak! Very good, well done now sit! Sit minister! Sit! Good boy! Biscuit, here catch! Well done! No, sorry the member for Berwick North will have to wait for walkies, sit down. No! Bad boy! You must WAIT for WALKIES! Oh now I’ve done it, sit down everyone, sit down, there’ll be no bones in this house until you do.’
‘Welcome on the channel to an hour of fashion. First up, this handy ice pick holder with the separate front pocket for your pitons, and we all know you can’t have too many of them. Long shoulder strap. Nice bright colour to show up against snow. North face of a glacier, it’ll be ideal. Next up quite a few sundresses in different colours. I don’t see the point myself; you’d be risking exposure no matter what colour they are, perhaps they have a thermal lining, let me peer inside………no the fabric is as flimsy as it looks. Yes I can hear you in my ear and I am moving on, what – shoes? That’s more like it. Oh. Well you couldn’t even do Everest by the tourist route in them. The climber modelling them is standing on her toes and there are no spikes on the soles that I can see. No, not very good at all. Impractical. Ah now this is better. I’ve just been handed a bunch of elasticated rope ties, sorry what? Thongs? Pardon?’
‘Open wide. Hmm. Wider. Mmm, I see. Well I think I’ll paint the tongue purple, it’s quite shapeless and frankly, I can’t see myself doing much else with it. The teeth are a lot easier, they’re getting my creative juices flowing nicely. And that’s another huge problem I need to address in the design stages or it’s just going to wash all my hard work away. How would you feel about quilted vinyl in a nice shade of pale gold lining the cheeks? It really is the new neutral, isn’t it? If I can get that done by Saturday, I can start hollowing out the teeth to fit the light bulbs after the weekend and then I’m going to, come back! Come back, I haven’t told you where I’m going to fit the bench seating!’
‘Stand still and put these handcuffs on when you’re told, you naughty, naughty burglar. Put that gun down at once or I shall get really cross. Now we don’t call people nasty names like that, do we? And while we’re at it we’ll take Mummy’s tights right off our face, thank you Mr. No Manners. What will people think? No one can see who you are! Silly boy! And I’ll take the bag of play money thank you! Don’t go running away like that or I shall get really quite vexed and use my little Taser and then there’ll be no finger painting this afternoon for you.’
I began writing this before politicians and journalists started verbal fencing ahead of the election, now it doesn’t seem very far fetched. Has anyone any idea what they’re doing? At all? Hmmm? (You’re all right, you’re just reading. Fully qualified if you got this far. Well done. Someone ought to have a handle on things.)
Some weeks and a half but not that many.