Friday, 25 March 2011

Observations on life.

Sometimes you read a post on someone else's blog and it strikes a chord. Being that I am admittedly a grumpy curmudgeon  of long standing. Therefore at the same time being old, means that I qualify to be one of Grumpy Old Ken's band of followers. I see so many of Ken's star qualities lurking hidden away within myself. Qualities that are suppressed by the Memsahib's sharpness of tongue and the evil look of the eye. (When you get that look - your surrender is unconditional) Ken is my hero!

Some recent words on the subject of blogging from Grumpy Old Ken. "This 'post' in a way is for all the 'little people' out there. The bloggers who seek neither fame nor fortune; but who nevertheless entertain, inform, educate; some of you are awesome, astonishing. All take a bow."  
Talking of the suppression inflicted upon me by the Memsahib, reminded me that I have an interesting tale to recount.

Recently I learned that an ex-work colleague has been escorted off the campus premises. Apparently this was for "bringing the institution into disrepute". Now, I know that this "disrepute statement" is pure conjecture on the institutions part. How can someone "bring" disrepute to the institution like its something new. When some would be able to argue that its already been there in good measure and has been around for some time. (see the reference to war memorials a bit later)

So how did this heinous and disreputable crime happen?

Apparently my colleague passed a comment on Twitter that their line manager was "talking the usual load of bollocks". I was at that time this persons direct line-manager. No one asked me about the comment or its veracity or if I thought the comment was true or false. My ex-colleague apparently "according to the institution" was guilty as charged.

Now anyone who reads this blog occasionally will know far more about the likelihood of me "talking a load of bollocks" than the institution ever would. So, I am sure that you will agree with me, that it comes as something of  a surprise that "gross misconduct" now includes being factually correct and speaking the truth!

My oh my! How values have changed in academia in the last few weeks since my retirement.

Now, its my turn to feel aggrieved and I do feel that way. The institution has undermined the pride I have long held in my ability to talk a load of old bollocks. This is a skill that has been lovingly nurtured. This is a skill, specially honed and shaped to achieve perfection over many years. Talking bollocks at this level is an art form. Also at the same time I look upon it as a competitive sport. So many times have I heard with pride people say, "he's talking a bigger load of bollocks than before."  Look, we are talking about huge bollocks here, not the usual run of the mill stuff.  Not only can I talk bollocks, it should be noted that I frequently drop them as well. I could be an Olympic medalist at talking a load of - or dropping bollocks of all shapes and sizes.

Wikipedia says :- Bollocks is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning "testicles". The word is often used figuratively in English, as a noun to mean "nonsense", an expletive following a minor accident or misfortune, or an adjective to mean "poor quality" or "useless". Similarly, the common phrases "Bollocks to this!" or "That's a load of old bollocks " generally indicate contempt for a certain task, subject or opinion.

Wikipedia also says :- Conversely, the word also figures in idiomatic phrases such as "the dog's bollocks", "top bollock(s)", or more simply "the bollocks" as opposed to just "bollocks", which will refer to something which is admired, approved of or well-respected.
So, rather than "talking the usual load of bollocks" being seen as a derogatory statement as supposed by the institution. My colleague could well have been praising my skills both as an orator and as a purveyor of skill and knowledge. Skills and knowledge that I picked up whilst working in academia for the last twenty five years. Skills and knowledge that has been tested and rewarded in my various interviews and annual appraisal.

A have from time to time during my period of employment issued or received "a right good bollocking" this was usually a verbal chastisement for something which one had or had not done. The phrase "a good bollocking" was in common parlance amongst the employees. No one saw it as a derogatory phrase. Most saw it as a dismissive way of acknowledging that they had received a telling-off of some kind. I remember my old Dean of Faculty using the word bollocks in a meeting to describe his thoughts on what was being talked about. This comment was met with a chuckle by everyone.

There is also the phrase that someone has "worked his bollocks off" or has "sweaty bollocks" which was used to indicate that someone has spent some time doing some difficult piece of work. If you asked me, if using the the word "Bollock(s)"would bring anyone or anything into disrepute. I would advise the culprit to get out more or to wake up and smell the coffee.

There are far more ways to bring any educational institution into disrepute. Instances such as the "carnage drink fest" where a large number of institutions turn a blind eye when new students go out and drink as much as possible in one session.  At a recent carnage fest in Sheffield a member of the student body Philip Laing went out to get "rat arsed" and ended up famously "pissing" on a city centre war memorial. Now, the student was suspended for a while. The courts gave him a get out of jail card.  However, Philip has now been forgiven by the powers that be. Philip is now back at the institution, quietly working towards his degree in sports science.

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, bollocks or ballocks was allegedly used as a slang term for a clergyman. For example, in 1864, the Commanding Officer of the Straits Fleet regularly referred to his chaplain as "Ballocks". It has been suggested that bollocks came to have its modern meaning of nonsense because clergymen were notorious for talking nonsense during their sermons.

I don't claim to have any quasi religious background to account for my ability to "talk bollocks" - but I do look upon it as a god given gift. I also look forward with anticipation to attending at some time in the near future an Industrial Tribunal to give an opinion. If you asked me - this is a bit of "trumped up bollocks" about "gross misconduct" and is a spherical load of rubbish.



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