Archive for the ‘Blog world’ Category

Just been to DIY superstore, B&Q, and had this rather Kafka-esque encounter:

[Cue theme tune to The Third Man – Anton Karas – Harry Lime Theme]

Are you The Man That Knows?

AA: [Approaches man with clipboard who looks like he knows] Hello. I’m looking for a set of new doors and….

The Man That Knows: [Points to the right] They’re all over there at the end.

AA: Yes, I just looked but I have a couple of questions.

The Man That Knows: Yes?

AA: First of all, do you deliver?

The Man That Knows: Oh certainly, sir.

AA:  Excellent. And will you install the doors as well?

The Man That Knows: No.

AA: Oh. Is there a tradesman you can recommend maybe?

The Man That Knows: No. Company policy you see. It’s in case we recommend someone and they do a bad job.

AA: [Crestfallen] Oh.

The Man That Knows: Though we do have a carpenter in-store.

AA: [Perking up again] Ah! Can I book him then?

The Man That Knows: No. Company policy you see. It’s in case he does a bad job. We know he won’t do a bad job because he’s very good. But company policy, sir.

AA: Yes. Just in case he doesn’t, right?

The Man That Knows: Yes sir. He’s very good though.

AA: [Crestfallen again]

The Man That Knows: You could always talk to him and come to a private arrangement but that would be totally between you and him. It would have nothing to do with B&Q.

AA: [Perking up again]: Oh of course. So what’s his name?

The Man That Knows: [Looking right and left] Sorry. Can’t tell you that. Company policy, sir. We are not allowed to give out staff details.

AA: [Looking at the name tag on his coat] Not even a name, Chris?

The Man That Knows: [Solemn shake of head.] You’ve just missed him anyway. He’s gone for the rest of the day.

AA: [Moving away] Okay. Well never mind then. I’ll try somewhere else.

The Man That Knows: He’ll be in on Sunday, though. You can talk to him then.

AA: But how will I know who to ask for if I don’t know his name?

The Man That Knows: Just ask for the carpenter. Or if I’m there, I’ll nod you in his direction.

You dirty rat! Tell me who The Carpenter is or it's no deal!

AA: [Speechless. Heading quickly for exit]

The Man That Knows: [Calling after me] But I didn’t say that. Yeah?

AA: Oh okay. Think I’ll still try somewhere else.

The Man That Knows: Sorry about that sir. Company policy.

AA: Company policy to lose business?

The Man That Knows: [Shrugs] Nothing to do with me sir. And by the way!

AA: Yes?

The Man That Knows: We didn’t have this conversation ok?

AA: Don’t worry. Unlike Arnie, I won’t be back.


BBC journalist, Andrew Marr, thinks that “a lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting”.  “They are very angry people!” he added angrily.

A gross generalisation indeed and one very few bloggers fit into. In fact, the kind of people Marr has in mind is unlikely to be engaged enough with the world to bother with a blog in the first place. But his attack on the blogging community is most interesting because he seems to commit the very same sins he identifies as typical of the average blogger – an angry, resentful rant that doesn’t allow facts to get in the way of a good controversy. But then again, maybe he wasn’t really that angry? Maybe he was just plugging his appearance at the Cheltenham Literary Festival?  It certainly got the media attention necessary for us to all to know that Andrew had made an appearance at a prestigious cultural event.

Whatever the case, it’s all the more remarkable coming from a BBC journalist who should really know better.  I will defend his right to speak out about issues that concern him. I will also defend his right to be a grumpy old man. But Marr should at least get his facts right, be more specific and particular in his critique and not be so defensive about his own profession of journalism. “The so-called citizen journalism”, he argues, “is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night. It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism.”  Speak for yourself, Andrew.  In any case, very few bloggers would claim to be “citizen journalists”. It’s certainly not what I’m about here. This is just me exercising my right to say what I think about the issues I care about – a fine democratic tradition, I would have thought.

So cool your jets, Andrew! The barbarians are not at the gates just yet. Public service journalism is not about to be swamped out of existence by the pimply brigade. But the best way to defend it is to practice it rather than descend into crass generalisations and prejudice.




A tentative first entry.

Posted: April 2, 2010 in Blog world

Hello!  This is my first venture into the blogosphere so bear with me if I make a whole lot of stupid mistakes. I will get a friend to give me some training and get to grips with it in time! For now, I suppose a good idea would be to keep it simple and tell you all something about me and why I’ve started this blog.  

So why “Academic Anonymous”? (And why did wordpress conflate the words into one? ) Well,  first, I am indeed an academic from Ireland, working in the UK higher education sector, who wishes to remain anonymous and engage in lively discussion on the world of  academia, politics and culture.

But there’s another reason for the name. It’s because being an academic in the UK these days is a bit like being an alcoholic. You can’t live with it and you can’t live without it and you know it’s probably the ruination of you. Yet it’s not just a job as so many well meaning non-academics (otherwise known as family and friends) tell me with weary sighs and pitiful gazes. No, it’s an incurable condition. It’s part self-delusion (I can make a difference and contribute to human knowledge!) and part grand obsession ( I keep all these thousands of newspaper clippings in case I might need them one day!)

The only thing that keeps me reasonably sane is the certainty that there is a great big dysfunctional community of like minded souls out there who don’t want to admit it in public either but yearn for the opportunity to stand up tall and declare: “Hello. My name is John/Jane and I’m an academic!” and know that the room won’t go deadly silent or rapidly empty, that she will be greeted with warm smiles, a sympathetic ear and a large glass of vino.  

Wait…did I say it was an “incurable condition”? That’s not true. There is a cure and its called redundancy but apparently I’m too young for that yet.  Onwards but not necessarily upwards then. Hope to hear from someone soon.