UCU at pains not to single out Jews for protection; boycott’s another story

Eve Garrard points out the illogic of UCU’s insistence, in response to the All-Party Parliamentary Report on Antisemitism, that antisemitism should not receive attention beyond what is given to Islamophobia (very even-handed, well done) while – hang on – failing to rule out motions which propose to boycott only Israel. Is UCU even trying? In an astounding vote of confidence, our outgoing member of the local exec told me to attribute this kind of behaviour to UCU’s natural incompetence rather than intent, but all the same…


Sometimes I wish there were a half-viable alternative to UCU.


I dream of a journey and 2 space hoppers

A night out with GS and Kate P. I’m in pyjamas, and they are pretty unimpressed. They are in slinky dresses and are worried about appearing fat. I’m saying it doesn’t matter, they say I would say that because I’m in pyjamas.

Later – early morning, brilliant sun, warm, hazy – I sit with G and somebody else on a fallen tree (I had to circumnavigate an enormous fallen tree in York the other day) in her garden which is like a wild meadow – her house is solid, old red brick, ivy etc, far above London (the view is a cross between Parliament Hill and the meadow I looked in briefly on the way to the HEA in York). There is some disapproval about my pyjamas and how I have to make changes to the way I go about things (actually, we have had conversations recently and she thinks I should change jobs). Then I set off for home south of the river and after some journey I reach the river – huge, built up and many bridges but I don’t recognise where I am. I have two things to carry, one of which is a giant space hopper (SG’s birthday present to me last week) and the other I don’t remember but it’s bulky, and the whole journey is turning into a sweaty, uncomfortable pain in the neck. Two young geordie men are in the river by the bank (which is more of a kerb than an embankment – the water nearly reaches the top, like a canal). They have 3 tiny canoes, too small to fit inside. One of them straddles a single canoe, the other, two. They call out to me and I approach. I’m a bit self-conscious, and say “As you can see, I’m in pyjamas”. They don’t seem to notice. The river smells rotten and I advise them to get out. They hoot with laughter and roll of the canoes. They allow themselves to go under the surface to show me they aren’t bothered about the filthy water.

I leave them and make my way along the embankment with my stuff. I try to ride the space hopper, but it makes it hard to hold the other thing. I acquire another space hopper because I confuse it for my one (forgetting that that’s underneath me) but soon realise that it’s not mine (because it’s smaller and grubby) and abandon it. The river-side is very built up and central-looking and I feel it should be familiar, but it isn’t. Eventually I get to a building which looks as if I can find a way through up to street (bridge) level and at least head south. I cart my stuff through strange Oxo Tower-like retail units – haberdashers etc – and it’s very labyrinthine (like the end of One Hour Photo when Robin Williams is trying to get out of the hotel). Then I wake up (into brilliant sunshine, and spend half an hour sunbathing on the bed reading something of Matt’s about Rochdale’s coming renaissance).

Royal ‘pain-in-the-arse’ Mail

The tears have just dried.

Reference: DH601202782GB

This was sent Signed For for Christmas, but was not delivered successfully. It was then Returned To Sender, but the sender (me) was on holiday and could not receive it. I did receive a card notifying me of an attempted delivery and I suspect that this related to my original delivery above. But I wasn’t able to pick the item up from the Sorting Office (Ilford) within the week that was stipulated on the card.

Last Monday 22nd Jan 07 the Web Tracking service said that the item was in transit. I called Customer Services. Customer Services told me it was still at Ilford after all. I was offered the opportunity to pick it up from Barkingside High St from last Wednesday 24th. Today (Saturday 27th) I queued at Barkingside to pick up the item, but they didn’t have it. The agent there gave me the number of the Ilford Sorting Office but it was constantly engaged.

I then called Royal Mail and held for ages to eventually speak to Tracking agent Denise. She said that the previous Customer Services person I tried to speak with made a mistake. Denise said that person shouldn’t have offered the opportunity to collect from Barkingside. Instead the item was held at Ilford for a further 7 days but have gone now. She then said all she could do was put me through to Customer Services. I didn’t get to speak to anybody but heard a recorded message directing me to the Web site. Then I was cut off.

I have so much to do today that tears of frustration at my wasted morning are rolling down my cheeks as I type this. The whole experient has been so awful I feel like screaming. Please tell me how I can get this important Christmas present back so I can deliver it by hand.

I really should chill out, but I have to apply for a job, write an Expression of Interest for the HEA, get a guide to Amsterdam out of the library, and go to a Hen Night, and write down an interesting dream I had last night.

My Student Union wants to twin with a Palestinian institution

Late in the day, our UCU administrator sent an email to all local members about a meeting organised by my Student Union to discuss twinning with a West Bank uni.

Just for the record, when I tried to publicise the OneVoice event- organised by the Student Union back in November – in a similar way, she eventually emailed back (late in the day – the evening before, in fact) to tell me that the Exec had decided not to forward my message, which should instead go on the discussion forum it had set up for these kinds of notices. Hmm. That’s the kind of double standard that adds to my suspicion that this twinning thing is as much about two fingers to Israel as it is about standing with the Palestinians.

How to write a critical letter

From the THES site, included in full because otherwise you have to log in.

Interdisciplinary read

David Buckingham and Andrew Burn
Published: 19 January 2007

We are reassured that The Times Higher has not abandoned its policy of commissioning reviews of books in the field of media and cultural studies from reviewers who have absolutely no understanding of the field.

The review of our recent media studies textbook on computer games (Books, January 12), written by a computer scientist and professor of geometry, provides a delightfully amusing example. It displays an exceptionally acute eye for irrelevant detail and a refreshingly naive ignorance of the fundamental aims and methods of cultural analysis.

We urge you to extend this entertaining approach to other subject areas – the books on atomic physics reviewed by medieval art historians, and the books on poststructuralist philosophy reviewed by monetary economists.

Perhaps you could ask some media and cultural studies scholars to review the latest titles in computer science and geometry?

David Buckingham and Andrew Burn. Institute of Education. University of London

Gutenberg Project and how to bind what you print from it

If a book is out of copyright, chances are it’s here for free. Project Gutenberg is one of the great reasons for the Internet.


Only please let people not throw away their printouts (old boyfriend of mine used to bind entire photocopied books with some G-clamps, cardboard, glue and two bits of wood. I don’t remember him sewing them but according to this Instructable – http://www.instructables.com/id/E37671RK7XEQEC18BI/ – it’s the thing to do.). Because I really don’t think I can read from my handheld (and consequently I’m avidly awaiting the mainstreaming of e-books – or are they e-readers?)