Saturday, 2 December 2017

A Self Cleaning University...with Timer

Self cleaning...with timer
A branch of Currys-PCWorld. A couple wearing matching cagoules wander in clutching a copy of Which? They're immediately accosted by a man in a tight fitting suit and lanyard. 

Lanyard Man: Good morning! Is there anything I can help you with today?
Cagoule Man: Ah...yes. Yes, actually. We've come for a university course.
Lanyard Man: A university course? I think you've come to the wrong place...
Cagoule Man: I don't think so. See, we subscribe to Which? We have done since 1947 when we weren't sure which coal scuttle to invest in. Anyway, we saw that as well as dishwashers and vacuum cleaners they are also reviewing university courses. And we'd like to buy one.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Concentration of Mr Kipling

Alex Hulkes settles down for the winter
There’s something wonderfully autumnal about Alex Hulkes, the Strategic Lead for Insights at the ESRC. He has a comforting fireside tone, somewhere between Mr Kipling and JR Hartley. You can imagine sitting with him as the logs crackle, gazing, entranced, as he strokes his mutton chops, flicks crumbs from his smoking jacket, and talks about his exceedingly good cakes or fly fishing escapades.

His latest report is littered with sublimely arcane phraseology: ‘laudable curiosity,’ ‘one may conclude,’ ‘it is incumbent upon [us],’ ‘let us return briefly to the question posed at the beginning,’ and my favourite: ‘[it] pulls a thread that is weaved discretely into most of the analyses presented thus far.’

Hulkes is a national treasure, and not just for his cakes. He opens up what he himself admits is ‘the black box...of [the] Research Councils’ to reveal ‘the wiring [that] is hidden.’ Like modern cars, most of us are happy that they just work, but Hulkes wants to show you the wonder of the internal combustion engine, and revels in the interlocking genius of the carburettor, distributor, spark plugs and camshaft.