Joint Venture

Excerpt from….available in paperback or as Kindle download from Amazon

​Deirdre Wetherby was not only the confidante, and more, of Kevin Flute, but was also a very conscientious cleaner, responsible for the first and second floor of the Old Moore’s Building which housed, somewhat incongruously, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of History. Two days earlier Deirdre had been tidying the Head of Mathematics’ office and, as you would expect, carefully moved the oddly positioned large screen obscuring the window sill in order to dust. And there it was! Deirdre immediately informed Professor Flute. The VC had been forced to act. Deirdre was right. The Head of Mathematics was no more.

And so it was that on that particular Wednesday morning Rufus Norman, Head of History, and James Crossly, the most senior academic in Mathematics, though he didn’t know that yet, now sat nervously opposite Professor Flute, waiting for him to get to the point.

Meanwhile, Deirdre Wetherby was lovingly dusting a bust of the Vice Chancellor on the far side of the room. Her appearance was almost theatrical, a caricature of a 1940s Mrs Mopp crossed with a 1970s Hilda Ogden, yet a strikingly intelligent and smart woman of a certain age, of modest stature, with curly hair, possibly permed. ‘Can I do you now, sir?’ had never passed her lips, and never would, nor did she have a ‘muriel’ on her wall, and anyone who heard her speak for the first time was immediately shocked by her academic manner and intellect. No ordinary cleaning lady!

‘Well you see,’ said Flute, at long last, ‘Deirdre discovered a pot plant in the Head of Maths office, so he’s immediately been put on gardening leave and will not be returning to the University.’

Rufus laughed out loud. The VC did not.

‘I don’t understand,’ said Crossly.

‘A pot plant, James, like at Woodstock or the Isle of Wight!’ interjected Deirdre from afar.

Crossly looked gobsmacked. Rufus laughed again.

‘So,’ continued Flute, ‘after full consultation with Deirdre, we’ve decided that she will act as cleaner for Mathematics AND History.’

Rufus laughed again at what he perceived as trivia but Crossly understood the implication and nodded, but with great concern.

‘Yes, in the light of events, I have decided to further strengthen the academic credibility of University North by restructuring the departments, as part of my Thrusting Forward agenda you understand. As from today, Dr Rufus Norman is now Head of Mathematics and History, a new and vibrant department with immense potential.’

Rufus looked gobsmacked and went into shock. It was Crossly’s turn to laugh, clearly an error, as he immediately realised when faced with Flute’s fixed stern stare. The VC continued.

‘Deirdre has explained to me the huge potential synergy between your departments and you will immediately validate two new degree programmes, History of Mathematics, very popular elsewhere she assures me, and Mathematics of History. The latter puzzled me at first but.’

‘It’s quite obvious really,’ interrupted Deirdre. ‘For instance, social and economic history could be viewed through econometrics and financial modelling, whilst war and political history would be aligned with game theory and dynamical systems.’

‘Excellent Deirdre!,’ enthused Flute.

The VC was clearly excited. He smiled at his long-time confidante.

‘Since you will now be responsible for cleaning this new and novel department I shall, of course, double your rate of pay to thirteen pounds per hour!’

She grinned coquettishly.

The meeting was at an end and the two academics were sent on their way to take care of business. Kevin Flute had been perfectly aware of the problems in both departments prior to Deirdre’s discovery and the inappropriate behaviour of the former Head of Maths had given him the ideal opportunity to act decisively.

When they got outside the VC’s office, the new Deputy Head of the new Department of Mathematics and History, whispered to his new Head:

‘He’s completely barking you know.’

‘Mmm, you think so?’, replied Rufus Norman. ‘Dangerous times my friend. We need to make this work. Flute can be ruthless. And as for Deirdre Wetherby? As sharp as Excalibur!’




UNIVERSITY NORTH: Episodes In The Life Of

now available to buy in Kindle and Paperback form on Amazon.

I shall make the Kindle version free in due course, to thank followers of Unistorynorth.

About Unistorynorth

Completely fictional episodes at a fictitious UK university involving fictitious academics. I myself am fictitious!

I trust my point is clear. (July 2013)

I left my career as an academic in UK higher education last July and decided to write a comedic, satirical blog based on my experiences, clearly fictional but utilising heightened reality. The idea was to write 24 episodes to cover the two semesters of an academic year, primarily dealing with internal politics, management and administration faced by academics, rather than what most really enjoy, namely their academic disciplines and working with students.

Although episodes may appear critical at times, I have huge respect for what HE tries to achieve. However, these days it is very much a high level business or industry as well as, for many, their vocation. What I did not expect when I began to invent was that I would end up having great affection for some of the principal characters, particularly VC Kevin Flute and cleaner Deirdre Wetherby, his confidante. I’ve very much enjoyed writing unistorynorth and will now take time to think what to do with it. If anyone out there has enjoyed reading the episodes and has any polite ideas what I can do with unistorynorth please get back to me.

For those outside HE I assure you that reality is much more bizarre than fiction sometimes. Many years ago I was part of a committee that decided to take a vote on a certain issue. It was questioned whether this was allowed under terms of reference. Someone suggested that we have a vote on whether to have a vote. Someone else said that this itself was not allowable but others disagreed. Therefore it was agreed that we take a vote on whether we should have a vote on whether we could take a vote on the issue. After a sequence of votes the issue was resolved.

Yes, I loved my career and have found unistorynorth most cathartic after its ending.
Thank you for reading. (March 2014)

I think I shall update and amend episodes, now that all characters are established in my head, and reblog week by week through the 2014-15 academic year. I may tire of this but do feel that I should ‘do something’ with the piece eventually.(September 2014)

Well, I continue to re-write and update and blog through another academic year, for fun. And what of the implications of Brexit? Hey ho! (October 2016)

Well, after re-writes, additions and editing, I’m sbout to self-publish through Amazon, first on Kindle, with the book title UNIVERSITY NORTH  Episodes In The Life Of (June 2017)

Especially for all those following Kevin Flute and Deirdre Wetherby, I hope to inform you of freebie Kindle downloads in the not too distant future.

Thank you for reading!