Monday, December 22, 2008

To: All Staff
From: Professor xxxxxxxxxxx Deputy VC

Subject: Christmas Annual Leave

A large number of emails have been directed at the HR office today from staff accusing them of being Scrooge and worse.

I have investigated the certificates found in the five eggs discovered yesterday. It would appear that the eggs and certificates have gone to people who have had a difficult year, including two members of staff who were bereaved earlier this year, one who has been diagnosed with cancer and two other personal circumstances I will not go into here. As a result the certificates will be honored. Please stop sending emails to HR they were just carrying out procedures.

Deputy VC
To: All Staff

Please note. I have checked with the VC's office. The certificates for extended holidays being found in the eggs are not real. They did not come form the VC and therefore will not be honored.

HR Directorate
To: All staff

Just on my way. Anyone want to come?

George xxxxxxxxxx
Senior Lecturer
To: All staff

How the blazes did that get there it must be 20 foot high? Has anyone been up to it?

To: All staff

OMG I have found the egg guys. Just look on the Rugby field!

To: All staff

Two more eggs have turned up, one in the office of the catering manager and one in building 244's cleaning cupboard. The cleaner dropped hers and found a certificate from the VC saying that the bearer of the certificate is entitled to two extra days off this Christmas, inside. It might be worth the other people checking their eggs. One more egg to go...

Bella xxxxxx
Admin Assistant

Saturday, December 20, 2008

by email -
To all staff:
From Dr. xxxxxx xxxxx

I think I found a clue. I have just found a large egg on my desk.

Dr. xxxxxx xxxxx

From Prof. xxxxxxxx

Me too

From xxxxxxx xxx

And me - three more to go.
What do you know about all this 12 days of Christmas stuff going on? The entire staff are hunting for the next thing - 6 Geese? Do you know where they will turn up? Is this you?

Dear xxxxxx,
What and spoil the magic of Christmas?

As you will have noticed a very large set of neon Olympic rings has been installed on the front of the main university building. They have been there for about a week. Everyone assumed it had some official purpose but on investigation none of the departments know anything about it. before we remove the said item can you all just check if they were placed there for an official purpose. It's just that the plug for the rings is trailed through the window of the HR directors office and the window won't shut properly.

1 hour later - reference the 5 gold rings - it would appear that we have been the victim of a continuing prank. If anyone has any information where these rings have come from please inform HR or the security service.
Hey Plato I thought you would like to know about this one. Grumpy old Professor xxxxxxxxx from the School Sexual Heath apparently had a stretched limo arrive for him a couple of days ago. It wasn't in his diary but you know what his memory is like so he got in thinking he had forgotten some important meeting.
It would appear when he got into the car there were four call girls waiting for him. The Limo drove off.
He arrived back about an hour later with a very big smile on his face and has since been heard whistling! Any ideas?

Plato: Four call girls you say?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Deputy V.C. heard noises coming from his filing cabinet earlier today. On investigation three chickens were discovered in the bottom three drawers. Someone must have seen someone entering the office. If you saw anything suspicious earlier today near the VC's office block please let the USS know ASAP before this goes any further.
Some how whilst the University Security Service guard was in the HR office preventing breakins last night 2 doves were placed in the USS control room. If anyone has any knowledge of this please come forward.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Email to all staff:
To whoever put the partridge and pear tree in the HR office. These offices will be patrolled on the lead up to Christmas by the USS to prevent any further break ins.
"Oh no - please no"
"Yes how did you know that the bowl of fruit was a bowl of pears?"
It would appear the the pheasant was a partridge and a small tree had been found planted on the directors desk with a bowl of fruit. We are puzzled. If anyone can help please contact the USS.
All HR services are suspended this morning. A live pheasant was discovered running around the HR offices when they were opened up this morning, which could explain why the burglar alarm kept going off last night. The University Security Services are trying to capture the bird at the moment. If anyone knows how the bird came to be in our offices please do let us know.

Barbara xxxxxxxx
HR assistant

Monday, December 08, 2008

Postcards pleading for help have been received from Clifton over the last month from London, Edinburgh, Oxford, New York, Riyadh, Hong Kong and Cape Town. Do you know anyone who has visited these places over the last month? No further ransom notes have been received. A reward is now offered for the return of the bear.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A note has been found sellotaped to a bit of fur in the HR office photocopier. The note says "Pay the ransom or the bear gets it. Further instructions to follow."

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Clifton (the missing teddy) or who might be responsible please notify the security office who have been notified and have launched an investigation. Jake Xxxxxx of the University Security Services who happens to be a retired detective has been put in charge of the investigation.

This is not the behaviour we expect of staff or students. The return of the property forthwith would be appreciated.

Jean xxxxxxxxx
Director of HR
HR Directorate

Sunday, November 02, 2008

For your information a number of people have emailed the HR office about the disappearance of the Teddy Bear from the office of the Director of HR.
The bear answers to the name of 'Clifton'.
If anyone one has any further information about this incident please contact either HR or Security.
A strange break-in occurred over the weekend in the HR office. As you may know the Director of HR has a small collection of Teddy bears in her office. These are personal items, some with sentimental value. On her arrival at work yesterday the largest bear had disappeared and the remaining teddies were found scattered around the office apparently looking inside draws and bins.
If anyone knows the whereabouts of the missing bear please contact the HR office.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Plato please tell me it wasn't you that started this rubbish:

I had a whole raft of paperwork, and I means volumes, delivered from HR this morning who are seriously investigating a suggestion that the University are not compliant to the diversity / equal opportunities legislation. It took me about an hour to understand what the hell all this paperwork was for. It appears that 'someone' has suggested that many of our doorways, ceilings, desks, chairs and other furniture are, and I quote, 'heightist' and therefore racist. Pygmies and Maassi are used as examples of sections of humanity disadvantaged by the dimentions of our buildings etc.
I and all the other heads of department have been asked to measure the height of all the rooms, doors and all other equipment to see if we are indeed not as inclusive as we claim.

I have a horrible feeling I have just worked out why you have been walking around on stilts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Plato, why have you started walking around the university on stilts?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dear Plato. Your latest research proposal about suitable sites for radioactive waste from nuclear power stations has (unsurprisingly) bounced back from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. They considered chopping up the waste into 'teeny weeny bits' and 'dropping' a 'little bit' into each households dustbin, 'interesting' but unscientific and lacking in merit. There is a handwritten note attached to the back by someone in the NDA, however, which states 'I wish I'd thought of this!'

I trust you do realise that funding is based on successful bids not the number of bids. Just a thought!

Prof. xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx
Head of Research Development

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hi Plato,
I thought that you might like to know. I just walked past the statue of Queen Victoria that sits over the main gate of Queens - she is dressed in one of your super hero uniforms.


Hi Neil,
I think that your presumption of ownership may need further investigation.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ok now I have seen everything. End of the year and you get the VC dressed in her action hero uniform, complete with mask to 'fall out' your ranks of super hero students and wish them well. Great parade, very amusing. I didn't think I would say this but I and a lot of other people will miss their antics.
I hear that your course for next year is already over subscribed and we haven't even opened selection. Well done.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whilst this may not be the most technologically advanced institution in the world, and whilst I also agree that some of our more 'established' professorial staff could do with 'getting with it' in the IT department, and that banning weblogs might not be entirely a great idea, I don't think that describing the university's technology committee as 'having the technological insight of a glaciated woolly mammoth' is entirely accurate.

The comment about the committee having a Darlek's perspective on freedom of speech went a little over their heads as did repeating "exterminate exterminate" as you left the meeting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"I don't think that during a public inter-university debate, when the VC disagrees passionately with the opposing VC about the aims of education, claping your hands slowly and shouting "Fight Fight", is quite the done thing."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear xxxxxx
You know that student I failed as the second assessor for plagiarism who then appealed and is threatening to take the university to court? She is claiming that we refused to mark her real dissertation after she had accidentally submitted the wrong work, even though it had somehow got her name on it and a signed plagiarism statement.

Well you know the supporting evidence she provided and the real dissertation she has now submitted?

Guess what? I did a little search and I have just found the same dissertation (word for word) bound in the library from a student who was awarded his MS.c 1998.

Just thought that you would like to know. I have the original in my office should you wish to see it. Oddly the library system showed that she 'borrowed' the document just last week.

Plato of the yard

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"I wouldn't want to accuse you of cheating but it could be seen as suspicious the fact that over 70% of your students have been given first class honours marks for your course."

"Firstly they weren't given the marks. They earned them. Secondly unlike many other courses I have concentrated on developing critical thinking and argument not just stuffed them full of facts. If you would like to interview any of my students you are welcome. Additionally as you can see from the external examiners report 'this methodology has produced stunning results.' I wouldn't want you to accuse me of cheating either.
If I had been cheating getting only 70% of my students 1st class marks would mean the cheating wasn't very successful would it?"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I am sure that those anticipating becoming a perpetrator in Oxford must be quaking in their boots, on the assumption of course that their linguistic capability matches that of  the Dean of New College.   

Monday, May 12, 2008

Plato please don't tell anyone but I was on the campus late last night finishing a paper. There was a light on in the VC's office. When I looked she was standing in her office dressed in the superhero's uniform your student's gave her, holding her stomach in and puffing her chest out in front of the mirror in her office!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Someone has parked / left an old yellow digger, bulldozer, road roller and a very large road surfacing machine right outside of the front doors of the Department of Plant Sciences with a banner saying "A small donation to your research". Has anyone any idea who they belong to as we are keen that they collect them. As you may realise this department deals with a different type of plant.   

Sunday, May 04, 2008

See this blog entry

Restricted Minutes
University Board Meeting - April 2008

Agenda Item

Prof. Dumbledaw reported that the report on the use of weblogs by university staff and students would be delayed. He reported that it had been brought to his attention just before this meeting by a member of staff that there may be some legal and ethical issues involved in restricting members of staff and students right to free speech. Prof. Dumbledaw will look into this issue before making an official report.

He also added that evidence has been brought to his attention that the restricted nature of these minutes may not mean that they are totally confidential to the university. Somehow the details of these minutes had found their way onto the internet. An investigation was underway to discover how this was happening. As a result the current minutes are somewhat truncated.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear plato,
The VC has become a bit of a hero with the students for wearing the suit they made for her. She is being greeted by students all over now where most didn't know who she was before. Although she is a bit uncertain as to how they got her measurements so correct, she is very pleased and you are flavour of the the month at the moment. She keeps using you as an example of good practice in teaching. Please don't do anything to bugger it up plato. Please.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tell me I am dreaming? Did I see the VC go to your lecture dressed as one of your super hero's? Are you for real? What was going on?


Er Plato is this true that you got the Vice Chancellor to wear one of your suits, masks and capes? You are my hero.

You are mad! How the hell did you get the V.C. to wear that super hero suit???

Plato. They should make a statue of you. This is just too much! The V.C. in a mask and cape at your lecture? Hilarious. You are a legend.

Everyone is talking about what you did to the V.C. Amazing. You star.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RE: Head of Major Gifts
Plato your application for the role of Head of Major Gifts has been rejected. I suspect an application that simply reads

"Please give me the Head of Major Gifts Job as I could be my own first customer"

was always doomed to failure.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My suspicions have been confirmed. I suspected that your NASA proposal wasn't the only one. As you might expect your request for $40 million from the Pentagon has been rejected. They don't appear to need research that investigates how many Marines kept their teddy bears beyond the age of 15 and whether, to quote 'teddy bear ownership increases a Marines chances of promotion'.
Plato, was it necessary, that when Prince Charles visited the University and asked you what the Ambiguity Institute was about, to say

"If I knew that they wouldn't let me be the Director."
Then asking him "Would you mind awfully, informally and in keeping with the nature of the institute, declaring it both open and closed at the same time please. I promise we will put a non-plaque up in honour of your visit" didn't really help to clarify the situation either.

I have funny feeling you haven't heard the last of this encounter.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dear Plato,
Please come and see me. HR have forwarded me the below risk assessment that you have submitted. They are concerned that your experiment might be and I quote "prejudicial to the fabric of the university", by which I think that they mean that they are worried that you will destroy it.

Risk Assessment

Name: Platothefish
Dept: Ambiguity and vagueness
Date: 01/04/08
Event: Experiment with home made particle accelerator and collider
Location or site: Lecture room B
Nature of Risk: Opening up a black hole during the experiment thereby destroying earth, oh and the solar system.
Who is affected?: Just the population of the planet
What has been done to minimise the risk?: I will keep the accelerator in a Tesco's plastic carrier bag.
Is a first aid trained member of staff available?: Will third aid do?
Is a fire marshal available?: No but the sheriff is in town
Has someone from HR H&S executive examined the risk: Not yet, but please do visit. If this goes wrong you will have approx .000000007 sec head start on the rest of the population.
Does the university insurance policy cover this event?: I'd like to see the policy small print.
Is travel involved? If so by what medium? Travel could well be involved, the medium being in particles and waves - I might need separation allowance for this one though.
Is your direct manager aware of this event and has he/she approved of the event?: I tried to tell him but he didn't believe me.
Have you received approved training for this event?
I suppose because we are all made of stars the answer must be yes
Equipment being used: Particle accelerator / collider. Well actually it is two very large and powerful electrocatapults and a laser.
Aim of the event: To create an atomic vortex fast enough to create a blackhole, hopefully only momentarily. However as this hasn't been attempted before and I wanted to do it before CERN came on line, I can't guarantee that the effect might not last a little longer than expected nor grow faster than I will be able to react. If this does happen there is nothing to worry about. Literally there will be nothing to worry about - ever.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Will whoever keeps turning off the heating to the Global Warming Studies Group offices please desist. It is not funny - it takes about 4 hours to restart the heating every time which makes it usually too cold to work in the offices in the mornings.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dear Plato,
Thank you for agreeing to run the debating chamber and resurrect the university debating society. The idea of having a university wide debate over a period of weeks both in the chamber and online is inspired and is welcomed by the board. I know that the advertising for this series of events was agreed by the board and the head of marketing, as well as the Vice-chancellor's office, however in retrospect, having seen your posters and online advertisements we would like you to remove the title and replace it with something a little more appropriate to the standing of this institution.

xxxxxxxxx Director of Academia

You are mad, I can't believe that you are getting away with this. There are 1000's of posters around the place with big bold headings saying "Mass Debate". I nearly choked when I saw them.


Hi Plato,
Your 'Mass Debate' posters have become collectors items! Very funny.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thankyou for the report on the leadership of the school I asked for. It is very useful and thought provoking - excellent work, we clearly have some work to do. Just a minor issue - there is a consistent spelling error througout the report - you keep referring to the 'bored' meetings as opposed to the board meetings. Can you correct this please and then I will submit it.

Reply - it's not an error.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Plato please remove the blue light from the top of your car and the signs on it that says 'University Ambigulance' and 'Emergency Responsibility Vehicle'

Thank you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The student's union and the lecturer's union have petitioned the university to complain about the proposed 'Oath of Loyalty Scheme'. It has also appeared on several department minutes for discussion at their next meetings. Please note that this is not an official scheme. Could all staff be aware and please inform their students that no such proposal exists at this university at this time.

See this news item ...

To: All Staff
From: Central Administration
Subject: Oath of allegiance.

In line with the Decree of Lord Goldsmith and Her Britannic Majesty's Government, as of the beginning of April all students and staff will be required to take an oath of allegiance to the university and the country. Special 'Oathing Ceremonies' will take place over a two week period at the start of next month. The proposed wording of the oath is as follows:

I (name of student or member of staff) do hereby swear that I will uphold the aims and objectives of the university without fear or favour. That I will, at all times support Her Majesty, the Vice-Chancellor and each decision made thereby. Additionally I swear that I will not question or importune Her Majesty or any senior member of the university nor engage in activities that cause any of the aforesaid superior members of our congregation any discomfort whatsoever.
Further I affirm that my loyalty will extend to all external activities and will illuminate the university's leadership only in the highest and most esteemed manner. I will also contribute financially, when necessary, to the university's upkeep and maintenance and keep the board in the manner to which it would like to become accustomed. Notwithstanding any of the aforementioned I will also be loyal to Her Majesty The Queen and stand between her and any of Her Majesty's, (the first Her Majesty) enemies.
I swear that I will also file all risk assessment forms as required without negative comment or criticism.


(Full name)

Please ensure that everyone is aware of the wording and is fluent before the university wide written exams at the end of March, just prior to the ceremonies.

xxxxxxxxxx Head of Administration

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Oh Hi Plato. While you are here I have a message from the VC. She will come to your first lecture after Easter to thank you and your students for their help with the pensioners lunch club. Between you and me she is a little suspicious about how the whole lunch club thing started and who placed the advert....

(Long silent pause)

Oh er, um, she would like to know if she has to wear the present the student's gave her when she comes to thank them? "

Oh I would think that it would be entirely appropriate.

"I'll tell her. I think that she is more than a little nervous but doesn't want to appear not to be a good sport, especially in front of your students....


She has asked why she is saying thank you to over 120 students when you officially only have 34. Where did the rest come from?"

I don't know they just started to materialise

"Oh OK"

Tell her I look froward to seeing her in two weeks time in Lecture room B. It is a little packed in there at the moment but it will do her good to see. I am particularly looking forward to seeing her wearing her 'present'. The students put a lot of effort into it - you might like to mention that.

"Oh OK"

Have a good easter.

"Er yes thanks..."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The V.C. would like to thank you and your students for their help and assistance on Saturday. Without you we would not have been able to serve the 117 pensioners that turned up. There have been many appreciative comments about the conduct of your 'super heroes' and their antics provided much entertainment."

That's nice - when would she like to do it?


When would the VC like to do it?

"Do what?"

Thank us

"She has"

I thought you say that she would like to thank us

"She would"

Great, when should I tell my class that she will come and thank them?

"I don't think that she meant..."

I think that she should - next month's Free Lunch Club might be even bigger or even involve some extras.


I'll leave it with you, please give her a map to the lecture rooms for me and a copy of our schedule. We will look forward to the thank you. Oh and the class have asked me to give this to the V.C. could you please pass it on.

"Um... what's in the bag?"

I have no idea

"Oh ... er oh dear"


Monday, March 17, 2008

Restricted Minutes
University Board Meeting - March 2008
Agenda Item
Item: Weblogs by students and members of staff.
Sponsor: Professor Dumbledaw Head of Hackademic Standards
Proposal: To issue a set of standards for weblog and other internet publishing

It has come the the notice of the board that a number of students and staff are publishing things called weblogs (known colloquially as blog's). These are free text unsupervised articles that are gaining in popularity in the internet especially with the younger element of our society. Our working party on internet use within the university uncovered a number of these weblogs which we discovered are open documents in as much that anyone who has a computer with internet access can read them without restriction.
Most weblogs are inconsequential, just being a private diary of thoughts, or photographs of the young people having a good time.
However we have uncovered a few weblogs that are potentially damaging to the standing of the university. One in particular, we have discovered, is written by a member of staff and has a large following. Whilst humerous in nature, it does not cast a very positive light on the university and in particular the leadership of this institution and is nefarious in deed. Due to the access to the level of information this individual (who goes by the internet pseudonym of platothefish) appears to have, he or she is not a junior member of staff. It is not thought that this individual has access to the highest levels of data like our board minutes for example, so we assume that he or she is an academic and not of senior management grading.
In the light of the government developing new rules for such activities with civil servants we would like to propose that the board draw up a set of regulations for our own students and staff to abide by.

It was carried that a draft set of publishing standards would be presented to the next board meeting in April by Prof. Dumbledaw.

For the news about restrictions by the government on it's own civil serpents see here.

Me thinks that the board have forgotten something... stay tuned. However it must be nice to know that your restricted minutes are safe from 'such nefarious deeds'.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Vice-Chancellor would like thank your class for volunteering to a person to help with the Free Pensioners Lunch Club. Oddly they appear to have a fantastic plan prepared. Anyway the V.C. is a little concerned and has asked me to have a quiet word with you. Do they have to wear their superhero suits to this event? Whilst we need the help and really appreciate their involvement we don't think that the suits are exactly the image the V.C. is trying project with her innovation.
Would you mind having a word with them please. Also I though that you only had 30(ish) students. There are over 100 names on this 'Plato's Group' list. Do they all wear the suits??


Hi Diana,
I had a word with them. It was 'Congratulations'. I am sure the suspense of their attire will add to the event and the V.C's new found reputation for creativity. See you on Saturday!
Three days ago: Tuesday...

To: All staff
From V.C.'s Office

Subject: Unofficial Invitations - In confidence

We have been receiving phone calls all morning from dozens and dozens of Old Aged Pensioners booking places for 'The Free University Lunch Club' in the Vice-Chancellor's conference room on Saturday. It would appear that an advertisement has appeared in the local papers inviting any Pensioner's on state benefit to a free meal every month, sponsored by the V.C..!
This is not an official advert and has not come from this office although it carries our logo. Does anyone know anything about this "initiative"? The University does not get involved in such 'local stunts', which harms our academic reputation and high standing and we need to discover who placed this advertisement. If it is discovered that a member of the staff or student body had brought the university into disrepute in this way, they will be disciplined.

Today (Friday):
To: All staff
From: Vice Chansellor
Subject: New University Community Initiative
The University is proud to announce an innovative free 'Lunch Club' once a month for local Old Aged Pensioners who are on minimum state pensions. This is new Vice Chancellor's initiative to foster closer relationships with the local community. Anyone who would like to assist with this please contact the admin office. The first lunch club will take place tomorrow (Saturday) in the V.C.'s reserved conference room in the Old Hall. The V.C.'s department is funding all the costs to enhance further our outstanding reputation with the local community, our relationship with which is of the highest importance. We are sure that you will join with us to congratulate Professor xxxxxxxxxx (the V.C.) on this important and creative initiative.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Why are all your Superheroes walking around in 4's today?"

"Plato, the campus is full of your caped crusaders - what's going on?"

"Just how many students do you have? There are piles of masked and caped people walking about this morning. They all appear to be in groups of 4 - what are you up to?"

"Ha ha very funny, 4 of your students dressed in their famous black suits, masks and red capes just turned around as I approached. You are going to be in soooo much trouble Plato. God I love you! I am in pain here I am laughing so much"

"I have just followed 4 of your students across the campus. Each one has a different letter in white on their capes. The way they were arranged the letters spelled out the word A.R.S.E. What is going on?"

"Oh no! The Institute of Ambiguity, Risk and Situational Experience! I get it. I think it's very funny but I wouldn't want to be you when the VC finds out what he has signed off."

"Plato - please come to my office - I think we need to discuss the naming of this Institute of yours. I knew this would be trouble. What on earth the Senate thought it was doing giving you something like an institute to play with I will never know."

Sunday, March 09, 2008


How the **** did you get them to agree to letting you set up an institute in the university? I am amazed. Well done but does this mean that you going to get all serious and boring on us?

....Ahhh I have just looked out of the office window and I think I have my answer! That is a very large banner you have there.

Have they worked out the impact of what you have called it yet? The School of Management is refered to as SOM, the School of Military Sciences is called SMS but do you really think that they are going to let you name it the Institute of

Ambiguity, Risk, and Situational Experiences???

Very funny.

Does 'Welcome to the party' mean that we are we really all invited to a party?


Friday, March 07, 2008

It would not be a 'giggle' as you put it to leave it unnamed.
'Ambiguity Towers' is out too
No nor can you call it 'Fort Ambiguity', no not even if you attach 'the bronx' to the title.
No you can not call it the Institute of the Uncertain and yes it has to have an address.
"Well you managed to get agreement to set up an Institute despite my protests... I really don't think calling it The Vague Institute will wash however."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"The School of Military Sciences should not be referred to as the Institute of Dispatching the Queens Enemy's."
"The University Security Service should not be referred to as 'The S.S.'."
"A fully signed up and cordoned off minefield has appeared overnight on the lawn outside the HR offices.

The University Security Service (The S.S.) are a little nervous about removing the signs and have called The Land Mines Group from the School of Military Sciences who are investigating. Please do not go near the building at this moment in time."

...from the morning briefing

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

This has got to stop Plato. A large group (about 20 -30 it was difficult to count them) of people (Students I hope and yours I presume) in masks, black suits and red capes visited the security office this morning offering them 'protection' against 'bad things' like burglaries.

The University Security Service are not happy bunnies at the moment as it is.

They have just discovered that the remaining crime prevention materials stolen during the break in last week were distributed to every Head of Department over the weekend. The mode of distribution was somewhat unorthodox. Someone broke into each HoD's office and left the material on their desks. We suspect that entry was gained with a set of keys as no damage was done and the USS didn't notice anything. The only area of the university that has such access is... you guessed it, the University Security Service.

A review of security is being undertaken by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. I have a funny feeling you may well be co-opted into the review.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

10 AM

To: all staff
From: xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx Head of University Computing

Anti Porn Filters

WE have been working hard to provide protection on the University wide network from pornography and pornographic images and spam. We are proud to announce that this morning we have instigated a new software solution which uses advanced algorithms to identify the percentage of flesh tones in any image. We have thoroughly tested this solution and we are confident it will provide the protection required. It will also prevent staff and students from accidentally accessing pornographic websites.

1020 AM

We have agreed to exempt the social sciences division from the Anti Porn Filter as they are currently conducting research on the effect of pornography in society.

1040 AM

The Law faculty has been exempt from the Anti Porn Filter as they are apparently conducting research for the government and police on pedophile online behaviour.

1105 AM

We have lifted the Anti Porn Filter from the Department of Agriculture as the filter was preventing images and websites of pigs being accessed.

1120 AM

The department of Art has also been exempted from the Anti Porn Filter as it was preventing them accessing art installations and photographs.

1130 AM

Graphic design has also had the Anti Porn Filter removed from it's area of the network because of it's work on avatar design.

1135 AM

As the internal discussion pages are predominantly pink we have had to lift the Anti Porn Filter from these pages as it was causing problems for users.

As you may all know, yesterday the university had a series of areal photographs taken of each campus for publicity purposes. The proofs were delivered today and on the main campus photographs, in one of the Department of Agriculture's fields, large white letters were apparent on the ground which read 'Crime pays'. In the next field were the words 'More than educashun'.
When the security staff were sent to investigate and remove the letters, they found that the letters had been formed out of the stolen crime prevention materials from the break-in at their office a few days ago.
On their return to the security office they discovered that it had been broken into yet again and the computer and phone that had previously been stolen had been returned. It is not known if anything else is missing. This all occurred in broad daylight earlier today. If anyone has any information please contact the security office, you can now do so by telephone or email.

Thank you

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Plato when you have a moment can you come and see me please.

We have just had a letter from NASA rejecting a research proposal you apparently submitted a couple of months ago with the title of 'Measurement of supernova background radiators with particular reference to spring theory' asking for $12 million research funds.
Apart from suggested typographical errors like spring instead of string etc they appear to have been particularly concerned and exercised by the fact that the section about observatory equipment required comprises of, and I quote:

"1 x 12 inch plastic ruler.
1 x 200 inch deeply spaced reflector kaleidoscope
1 x small pocket notebook
2 x pencils (HB)"

I think we need to talk.
In confidence

Last night the university security office was broken into. A computer, telephone and 3 boxes of crime prevention materials were stolen. If anyone saw anything suspicious last night please report it to the security office in person as they can't receive phone calls or emails at the present time.
You may have noticed a fracas by the front gates involving the workmen who have been digging a service trench for the last week.

The workmen arrived this morning to continue their work to find a letter taped to their hut. The contents of the letter said that some students dressed as police officers would try to get them out of the hole as a prank.

It would appear that someone then phoned the police and said some students, who were pretending to be workmen, were digging up the road as a prank.

The incident lasted just over an hour before it was resolved.

Any information ....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just a thought - you can meet me by coming to one of my spiffing workshops on the 4th March in Fleet Street in London. Look here
"No you may not start your own institute"
"I don't care whether you do have a great name for it"
"Nor a natty logo either"
"Citing the tenet of academic freedom won't change my mind"
"Nor will the fact that when you mentioned it to the Vice Chancellor's and the College Principles wives at the College Dinner dinner last night they said they would back it"
"No, uniforms will not help"
"I don't care what they look like or what colours they come in"
"I am sure that you will get lots of students, you seem to be good at collecting those, the answer is still no."
"Please get up off my floor"
"How much for what?"
"No you can't bribe me - that's not enough anyway"
"Where are you going to get funding from???"
"Er I don't think...., look if you can get it then good luck to you"
"I have nothing against the Samaritans, I just don't think that they will fund a research institute into career suicides in academia."
"What??? Are you serious? Hang on let me look, I do hope that you are joking...."
"Oh bloody hell! How the f*** did you get this put on the Senate Papers for next week??"
"What people in high places???"
"Oh no.......I feel ill"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dear Dr. Platothefish

Thank you for your suggestions and interest in the 'Partner University' scheme as per the Vice-Chancellor's memo of 2nd February 2008.

Under the category 'Partner in an Under Developed Country' the steering committee decided that your suggestion of Harvard University did not suit the category.

Under the category of 'Twin Partner - the university most allied to our current structure and purpose', the committee decided that the University of Baghdad might not be a suitable choice.

We thank you for your interest in the scheme and hope that you don't see this as a rejection of your ideas, but rather as a consequence of very high standards of suggestions received by the committee.

"I hadn't considered that this might be a rejection until you mentioned it"
Whilst I can probably guess the answer to this, would someone mind telling me who was it that convinced the university Chaplin that it might be a good idea to offer baptisms in the fish pond this summer during the graduation ceremony? I know that he was accused of a lack of creativity in the university newspaper by some students last month but this is not good.

His 'creative idea,' that he has apparently been told by a "source close to the staff" 'has the backing of a large number of members of staff' is currently on agenda for the next Senate meeting.
Removing the paper will cause offence as will refusal. As you can see this puts the Senate in a difficult situation...
In response to your email, no you cannot be allocated a larger lecture room. The one you are in holds over 120 students. You, officially at least, only have about 35 on your course.
I was going to ask where all the others have come from, but I don't think I would like the answer.
Your 'super heroes' have just cleaned and weeded half of the garden area outside of the VC's office block. There is a neat line down the centre of the lawn and flower beds. One side is neat and clean and the other side is a mess. Can you enlighten me as to the reason for this? Are we going to have to do the other half?
Plato please, please tell us what is going on. It is driving me demented. People all over the campus are talking about this. PLEASE tell us.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Welcome home. Whilst you were in Riyadh nothing happened. Just thought that you might like to know that a couple of people mentioned it. Well when I say nothing, that's nothing except lots of super heroes doing good deeds. What is that about? "

"Lot's of Super heroes?"

"Yes they appear to be replicating. I keep trying to count them but they won't stand still long enough! I asked one how many there were and she just shrugged. Please tell me what's going on. I won't tell anyone, I promise"

"Can you keep a secret?"

"Defiantly, yes."

"Good, well done"


"Well done, there aren't many people who can. You know what?"


"I can keep a secret as well"

Monday, February 18, 2008

To: Platothefish,
From: Head of Registry
Subject: Student numbers
Text: Hi Plato. I don't want this to become a big issue nor do I really want to appear on your blog. However we have heard that you are teaching students that are not enrolled on your course. Can you confirm if this is indeed the case as it has repercussions in terms of student registrations, fees , risk assessments etc. etc.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Head of Registry

Dear xxxxxxxxxx
Can I just ask a question before I answer? As the lecture rooms are provided for students educational purposes what would happen if some students decided to extend their education by staying behind after their lecture? Further would your answer change if they stayed behind whilst another lecture was happening if they were not being disruptive. Also what if some students (as happens) got lost and ended up in the wrong lecture but decided to stay? Also...


Dear Plato,
I was afraid of this. I suppose the answer, if this is what is happening, nullifies any concerns. However if it occurred systematically it could be a problem. Thank you.

I know that your expertise is Ambiguity but would you mind putting the campus out of it's misery. Why were 70-80 students all dressed in black suits masks and red capes marching as a military body through the campus to your lecture room this morning? Also I thought that you had 35 students. You now appear to be teaching at least double that. What's going on?

xxxxxxxxxxxx Head of School

I doubt I can put the campus out of it's misery. That would likely take copious quantities of barbiturates or some other such overdose.

As for the student numbers I hadn't noticed. I will endevour to look up next time I teach and count them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Plato you'll never guess what. You know old fusty face Mcxxxxxx (Head of Social Networking) over in Humanaties? Then old sly dog has joined an online dating agency. For some reason the old duffer has done something wrong and all his emails are coming through to the entire department! He is such a dragon no one dare tell him.
Anyway would you believe it he is chatting some woman up who is actually responding. I don't know what his profile is like but it must be a lie for a live woman to respond!

Mums the word. I'll keep you posted.
You know I told you about xxxx (Head of External Relations) and the online dating thing? Well we all just got this email sent around the group. I can't believe she still doesn't know that we are all getting the emails.

Dear xxxxxx
You sound very nice. I think that we have a lot in common. I too work in a university. I too am head of a department. Like you I am looking just for some companionship and someone who understands me. We are about the same age. I also like going for long walks and so much more. I do hope that you favour me with a reply.

Yours xxxxxxx

Please don't tell anyone.
Yesterday the Mayor had a private meeting with the University Board. This meeting was not advertised nor was it in the university diary. However when the mayor arrived a group of about 20 - 30 people dressed in black suits, masks and red capes lined the entrance as a 'guard of honour' and saluted as he entered the main campus. Nothing else happened and the 'guard' disappeared before security could be notified. We are at a loss of what to say to the mayor about this behaviour on an unofficial visit...

Monday, February 11, 2008

My lecture follows platothefish's in lecture room b. I opened the door this afternoon to find him lecturing a room full of people dressed in black suits, masks and red capes. Oddly I thought he only had 37 students on his module. Lecture room B holds over 100 people and it was full. What is he up to?

Plato would you care to comment?

Hi Plato,
I have been told (I should have guessed really) that you have something to do with the four masked crusaders who descended from nowhere this morning and helped me to get my car started, by pushing it. I have just seen one of them stop the traffic to let an old dear across the road outside the main site much to the amusement of the drivers and a group of workmen doing some road works. There also appears to be a couple of them sitting in a bush outside my office.
I will probably regret asking but why do we have a legion of masked and caped super heroes wandering around the site helping people and hiding in bushes?

The VC just mentioned to me that he was a little surprised to find someone staring at him through his office window at 8.30 this morning wearing a black suit, mask and cape, not least because his office is on the second floor.
Do you know anything about this?
Hi Platothefish,

I was 'rescued' today by two super heroes dressed in black suits, masks and red capes. I must say they were very helpful when I was struggling with a plie of very heavy boxes. Everyone else just watched me struggle but these two shifted to lot for me. They then vanished without a word afterwards. Your students perchance??


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why are your class all wearing black suits and red capes?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Email doing the rounds - quickly...

Don't tell anyone else and I mean ANYONE but it would appear that the Head of External Relations has been signed up for an online dating agency without her knowledge, with a full profile, photo and everything! She is trying to keep it secret for some reason. The odd thing is she hasn't cancelled the subscription and is getting lots and lots of emails. The funny thing is all the emails are also being sent to the rest of the department as a secondary email address on the profile and I am sure she doesn't know! Whoever wrote the ad is very clever, the whole profile is very ambiguousm it gives no real details but is working a treat. I thought she was a lot chirpier than normal. But please don't tell a soul....

Oh Ok - Shhhhhhhh...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Health & Safety Risk Assessment

Name: Platothefish
Dept: Ambiguity and vagueness
Date: 04/02/08
Event: Lecture
Location or site: Lecture room B
Nature of Risk: That the students might learn something, especially critical thinking.
Who is affected?: My students, the cleaner, a few lab rats and society at large
What has been done to minimise the risk?: I will talk quietly and will try not cause them to think too much
Is a first aid trained member of staff available?: Will a humanitarian aid trained person do?
Is a fire marshal available?: I promise not to play with matches
Has someone from HR H&S executive examined the risk: What of? Learning? I doubt it.
Does the university insurance policy cover this event?: Yes/No ...... you tell me
Is travel involved? If so by what medium? Yes, the students need to enter the room via the door and walk to their seats. Some may levitate of course. I may have a couple of spiritualists in the student body but I am not sure about mediums, do we collect such data?
Is your direct manager aware of this event and has he/she approved of the event?: I did wake him up and tell him, however the vodka appeared to have taken it's toll. He certainly approves of being left alone.
Have you received approved training for this event? Well I learnt to walk and talk all by my self, my mum appeared to approve at the time.

.... and so on for another 23 questions.... I might just manage to get to retirement age before I ever have to work again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Please note that the last communications about Health and Safety Risk Assessments were sent out in error, an early draft copy having been circulated instead of the correct version. This will be circulated next week. Could staff please not conduct any more risk assessments or forward them to HR until the new policy has been circulated."

Hi Platothefish - HR has apparently been flooded with literally 100's of Risk Assessment forms today. There is some suspicion that a number of them were filled out by students. I am sure (& hope) that this wasn't the case - was it?

Monday, February 04, 2008

On entering the School of Mathematics this morning a life sized zebra and antelope was found blocking the entrance to the Game Theory Department. Whilst we welcome this contribution to our research, Game Theory has not until this morning involved the investigation of animals from Africa, or any other animals for that matter. The said items can be collected from the Head of Schools office.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Health and Saftey Policy - Risk Assessments

...You are required to carry out a Health & Safety risk assessment for every situation where students, employees of the University, contractors and visitors may be exposed to University property, or are required to carry out an activity in the university confines. Additionally field trips and visits involving....

"Hello HR Admin"
"Hi it's platothefish here"
"Oh dear, please wait a minute whilst I contact my supervisor"
"What for?"
"It's just that...."
"I only want to ask a question"
"er - ok I suppose that will be ok"
"do you mean safe?"
"Never mind. Now this health and safety policy you sent out this morning. Can I just check something?"
"Of course" (sounds relieved)
"I just want to check something. The way this is worded it seems to be saying that a risk assessment needs to be carried out if any human being does anything that is in anyway attached or connected university business or property."
"Oh no I am sure that's not the case"
"OK have you got the policy there?
"Of course" (sound of frantic paper sorting)
"So if I teach in a lecture theater do I have to carry out a risk assessment for example, according to the policy that is"
"I think so yes"
"OK and going by the policy if I am in my office I need to carry out a risk assessment?"
"ER yes I suppose so"
"Ok and if I have to file some paper in my filing cabinate I also have to carry out a risk assessment"
"Er well, I suppose if you follow the policy, strictly speaking, yes, but..."
"Ok so what about me. as an employee of the university of course using a piece of equipment at the university for example?"
"Oh yes that would defiantly be included. No doubt about that" (sounding more confident)
"So a piece of equipment like this telephone for example?"
"ER Oh dear"
"And if I happen, just going by this of course, to go to the toilet, a university provided toilet of course, then I would also have to carry out a risk assessment?"
"Oh dear, if you go by this then yes it does look like it doesn't it?"
"It certainly does"
"Indeed every act now appears to need a risk assessment."
"I see what you mean. I hadn't quite seen it like that."
"Ok can you tell your boss that I will have to cancel all my research and teaching for the rest of the term."
"To fill in all the risk assessments needed. I wouldn't want to breach university policy. I might get suspended or something."
"I will let her know your concerns. I think that there has been a mistake with the wording of the policy"
"I look forward to hearing from her. I am sorry I need to dash as I need to fill in a risk assessment so that I can open the three doors I need get through to get out of my office and go home for the weekend. I will email you the 5 or 6 I will need to get into work on Monday."
"Oh dear"

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Re-organisation paper
"As part of the reorganisation it has been decided that because nanotechnology is only small, it would make sense in terms of economies of scale, to merge it with biotechnology"...

I can't wait to hear what they will do with cosmology.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can someone answer the question of how the papers on the Tribalism Module of the proposed Organisational Culture Course that were sent to Teaching Committee this week had all of the references to tribalism changed to 'cannibalism' without anyone noticing? The module has of course been returned for corrections to be made...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dear Dr. Platothefish

The Teaching Committee have returned your course description and materials. There is some concern about a case study you intend to use entitled 'Uses and Abuses of Power - Sole Use'. You may recall that the case study is a about a 'fictitious' Vice-Chancellor who requisitions the most elaborate and beautiful room at the Old Hall in the University and decrees that no one else is allowed to use the room apart from her. All other meetings booked for the room have to be rearranged or cancelled even if the room is not being used.
As we have such a room in the University and it's use has been restricted to Vice-Chancellor functions only it was felt that this was not a suitable subject for discussion with the students. You are therefore requested to construct another fictitious case study for use with your class.

Professor Plum
Dean of Learning and Preaching

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ring ring...
"Hello, Platothefish here, Ambiguity Faculty"
"Er hello, er is that, er, sorry, um the training department, please?"
"Hang on I'll have a look.... nope"
" I said no it's not the training department, I think that you have the wrong number"
"Oh I am awfully sorry er....."
"Well you see I wanted, I am so sorry, to cancel my place on the er, um assertiveness workshop tomorrow"
"Oh, why is that?"
"Well er, it's a little bit difficult you see"
"Yes you see my, er, boss won't let me go I am afraid".
"Oh? You sound like the ideal candidate".
"Never mind"
"So I can't go, er you see, so I was, er ringing up to cancel"
"So let me get this straight. You can't make the assertiveness course because your boss said that you can't go?"
"Er yes, but now I, er, have dialled the, er wrong number, you see."
"That's ok. Listen what would happen if I said that you could attend"?
"Yes of course you can"
"But, er, oh dear. Do you think that it would be alright"?
"Yes of course"
"But my boss......"
"Is your boss there now"?
"Oh no he is away on a conference."
"Will he be there tomorrow?"
"Oh no he's not back until Monday".
"So go then"
"Look by the time your boss gets back, you will be assertive and will be able to tell him where to go".
"Oh I see your point, it's only, er, he can get very nasty you know. My wife keeps telling me to stand up to him, but you know how it is, it's very difficult...."
"Ok let's do it this way. Your boss isn't here right now is he?"
"Er, no..."
"So I am giving you permission as someone who is here for you to do the course"
"Yes, really"
"Oh thank you so much. I was so worried about this, cancelling at such a late date and all that. Thank you so much.Er just one thing though..."
"Won't I get into trouble"?
"No tell your boss that I said it was ok"
"Fantastic, thank you"
"Ok bye, enjoy the course, where is it being held?"
"In the forum"
"Where in the forum"?
"In Greengate Street".
"Where's that?"
"Oh right next door"
"Er Can I just ask where you are?"
"In Barrow-in- Furness of course"
"Who do you work for?"
"The council..."
"Oh that's ok then, yes tell them that Platothefish says it's fine."
"Thank you so much. I am glad that I spoke to you".
"Not half as glad as I am, Bye."
"Bye thank you again"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A large sign has appeared on the fencing surrounding the works of the Vice-Chancellor's Office block where workmen are strengthening the foundations of that block. The sign says "To view the philosophical foundations of the university please enter". We have not been able to remove the sign yet due to it's height. Please note that access into this area is not permitted for members of staff or students as this is a health and safety issue.

The last message was sent in error and should read
A large sign has appeared on the fencing surrounding the works of the Vice-Chancellor's Office block where work-persons....

Monday, January 21, 2008

The health care dept. has had to close due to a gastric illness. Every one is advised to ensure that their personal cleanliness is of the highest standard at this time to prevent the illness spreading. Anyone who has been in contact with the Health Care Dept. is asked not to go the the University Medical Department but to see their own private doctor if they have any concerns.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Approximately two dozen live chickens were found by security in the accounts office this morning. Each chicken had a colour photocopy of an 'Egg' credit card attached to one leg and a photograph of the Vice-Chancellors official new Lexus car attached to the other leg . We think that this was a protest at the budget restriction imposed at the start of the year to help to re-balance the Universities books before the year end. From the state of the office and the number of eggs found it would appear that the chickens must have been in the office since Friday. If anyone has any idea who did this or where the chickens came from please notify HR.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

To Platothefish
From: Professor xxxxx
Subject: Scorecards
Plato I have just had this email. I know one of your things is teaching quality or rather the lack of it. Do you know anything about this? A number of staff have had these. The ones who got good marks, 5/10 and above are ok. A couple with 1 and 2/10 are kicking up a storm. I am not sure that we want to promote student power (which is another one of your 'things') at the moment.


Hi Jake,
I have just finished a lecture and the students handed me a sealed envelope, inside was a score card with marks out of 10 for my last lecture, my teaching style, sense of humour, ease of understanding, boredom factor and a whole load more. I was a little perplexed. When I spoke to other members of the faculty they also have had these score cards. Where are they coming from? Are they official? They are properly printed. My final comment was 'Out to lunch'. What does this mean?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

To: All Staff
From: Human Resources (Communications)
Subject: Effective Communication Workshop

Please note that the effective communication workshop has been cancelled because the emails sent to some of the delegates did not arrive on time and those that did arrive omitted the venue details, which hadn't been booked due to a clerical error.

XXXXxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Head of Communications (HR)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hi Plato,
I don't think anyone has noticed yet but the happy new year piece on the front of the uni's website has now got a grim reaper instead of old father time. Nice one. Happy new year!