Friday, 29 September 2017

Friday in the Garden of Good and Evil

This week has been way to busy to consider blogging. I've met all the new students several times, so they've seen all my decent clothes and heard all my decent jokes. Or the jokes that I think are decent anyway. This year's intake are very engaged and chatty, which was lovely: it didn't take much effort to get them talking about interesting things, and they even indulged me when I quoted Plato and Michael Oakeshott while encouraging them to care more about ideas than grades. We also had a party: loads turned up, nobody stood on the edges looking lonely, and we had to go out for more wine and not just because my colleagues drank it all.

The more frustrating element of the week has been trying to get the new VLE and the online course management software working: despite getting all the details right several months ago, students are still struggling to sign up for the right classes, and obviously they complain to us. My desk bears a slight dimple where my forehead keeps meeting it a speed. The upshot is that I'm teaching mostly brand new material at several levels from next week, lecture-writing has very much taken a back seat. Ah well, I'll get there. Next week I'm teaching everything from The Address of John Ball and Gerard Winstanley's manifestos to Ballard's short stories. Exciting.

The other thing that happened this week was Question Time at the university. I didn't get a ticket, but I returned to watching it in the hope that my esteemed students, colleagues and townsfolk would break the cycle of answering moronic panellists with reactionary attitudes. Sadly, I was mistaken. Dimbleby – seemingly suffering from a vision problem that means he can only see men – picked a succession of people I would characterise as disturbing, actual, fascists. One shouted that Angela Merkel was an East German Communist, another defended the AfD against allegations that praising the actions of the Wehrmacht in WW2 makes them pro-Nazis, and another contributed the bullshit cri de coeur de nos jours of 'Europe needs us more than we need Europe'. Unless there's suddenly a need for Alan Sugar's warehouses of unsold Amstrad @mailers for some unimaginable reason, I remain unconvinced. As a fillip for the university, getting a show like Question Time in was a coup. As an advert for the city, it did not give off the impression that it's a progressive, welcoming, intellectual powerhouse. Still, if you're thinking of holding a cross-burning, or want to open a golliwog shop, there's probably a chance of making a go of it here.

I'm off to lock myself in and draw the curtains. Enjoy your weekend.

No comments: