My main job since the takeover is to set up a factory for the creation of new degrees at ABC College where I work. Instead of letting everyone do their own thing, it is my role to work out how to coordinate and systemise this across the College. And as part of that I have decided to set up a pilot to trial using some of the methods employed by University of the Resuscitated Bird. This pilot has taken several months to organise (not least because some of the Americans didn’t have passports and have taken time to get this organised) but at last this week a team of five arrived in London to start working with us.
All of them come from Dead Bird City in the middle of the American desert – a strange artificial place about which our Dean of the Law School once commented that the world would lose nothing if it were “abruptly wiped off the face of the planet”.
Now let me tell you about these 5 visitors. Bobby is a real live Mormon – he managed to find a church in Kensington last Sunday and told us all about listening to the “supreme authority” (ie the pastor) – though currently he is still single. Greg I have nicknamed Texas boy (the first thing out of Texas that I have ever liked), Marcia brought me a bag of trail mix (nuts and sultanas and things) that I had in Dead Bird City on my visit last year that I really liked (she remembered – very sweet), and Jan and Cindy are two young American females obsessed with hygiene.
Now I thought they would like a true English experience, so I booked Jan and Cindy into a lovely Georgian flat in Islington. Big mistake, as gradually over the week complaints have trickled back to me – no wifi, nail sticking out of the floor, leaky shower head, dirty rug and so on. I tried to explain that England is old, lots of places are shabby, and bathrooms almost always a bit grim. But once I heard that they were actually in tears about the place I thought I am going to have to move them – and pay for a second flat! (another £6000 note) The real issue turned out to be they thought the place was dirty. They cleaned it twice themselves– and still thought it was dirty. My PA suggested we get a professional cleaning company in – but they said (and I kid you not) that they didn’t think it could ever be clean because they would always know that there was dirt under the floor boards (ground floor flat you see).
I mean, what do they think the planet is made of? Plastic? Well I guess it kind of is these days thanks to hygiene obsessed Americans!!
Sometimes I could just kiss the (very muddy) ground in thanks for my upbringing of Angledool, guinea pig shit and an agricultural high school.
Despite all this I like all 5 of them very much and am very impressed with their calm professionalism at work. So much more professionalised in their approach than ABC College tends to be. It is a whole new way of working and I am learning a lot –and clearly they are as well.
But even so …. seriously, what do they think is underneath the houses in Dead Bird City??
And I doubt I will be able to get through the next week without giving in to the temptation of telling them that in London no one is ever more than 7 feet from a rat.