Wednesday, 31 October 2012

And When Did You Last See Your… Tutor?

I don't know if you're familiar with this painting, WF Yeames' 'And When Did You Last See Your Father?'. It's a Victorian bit of Royalist propaganda: the lad is being asked to inform on his Cavalier father by the Puritan Roundheads.

It's been parodied many times, but one particular version caught my eye this week. I'm reading the complete volume of Posy Simmonds' Weber Family cartoons, a long-running strip from the Guardian in the late 70s and 1980s. George Weber is a nervous and underachieving sociology lecturer in a polytechnic, and the paterfamilias of a large, largely happy but disparate family. He and his wife are 60s idealists struggling to retain their pride and principles in the face of 1980s horrors: greed, consumerism, selfishness, racism, conservatism (actually, the previous four words cover the Tory Party quite well on their own). They are, essentially, comic versions of me: liberal, tired and depressed by the revolting state of the world. Without being cutting edge or violently offensive, these beautifully-drawn and written strips have captivated me this week. 

In particular, here's Simmonds' parody of the painting above, entitled 'And When Did You Last See Your Tutor?' (click to enlarge). 

Given that here at The Hegemon we're having a massive crackdown on attendance by proving to the students that coming to class and talking to us will actually improve their lives, it really struck a chord. BUT - only if you don't examine it too closely. The red-faced chap is the appalling lecherous tutor who's worried that our heroine will tell them that she saw her tutor quite recently. This morning, in fact. In bed. 

That kind of thing doesn't happen here. But if you ignore the plot, it's an amusing bit of academic humour. 

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