Saturday, 23 March 2013

Easter vacation

Hello. My names is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

It is the first day of the Easter vacation and it is very quiet here at the University of the South of England. Apart from a few postgraduates there are no students around. I seem to be the only one of the Greeks in the department who hasn't gone back to Greece for Easter. Professors Rowe and Steel are both away at conferences and there is no sign of Richard, Jack, Sian or any of the others. The Dean is off on a trip to China and even Molly May, the departmental administrator, has taken a few days leave. It is time for me to catch up on some research.

When I arrive at my office I discover that the university's computer system is down. When I phone the Help line they say that we had been told it would be shut down for a few days essential maintenance but I don't remember seeing the email. It is just as well that all the software and files that I need are available to me on my laptop.I make myself a cup of coffee and try to get started. I just don't seem to be able to get going though. I think maybe I am the kind of person who needs a deadline hanging over me to get me working. It doesn't seem to be a problem for me when I am working with someone else on a joint project; after all I can't let down a fellow author. But this is a project I want to do on my own. I have had it in mind for months now but there has never been enough time to get on with it.

Kylie the cleaner pops her head round my office door. "Oh, hello Kostas. I didn't think you would be here today, especially with the computers out of action. I thought I would give your office a bit of a clean as I don't usually get a chance to do much more than empty your waste bin and run a duster over your desk. The floor could really do with a hoover".

Maybe I should go to the Library. I don't often go there these days now that all the journals and databases are all online. I remember how I used to really enjoy working in the library when I was doing my MSc. "OK, Kylie" I say, "I'll go over and work in the Library and you can have a bit of a tidy up in here. But don't go rearranging any of my piles of paper will you or I won't know where to find stuff." I swig down a bit of my coffee, collect all my stuff together and head out of the door.

I go to the end of the corridor and call the lift. When the door opens I see Colin the Caretaker (or Col as he likes to be called) there in the lift. "Hello Kostas" he says "I didn't expect to see any academics here in the building today, what with the computer system being unavailable". I don't admit that I hadn't been aware of the lack of computing facilities today and tell him that I am off to the Library to work. "You know you really should take a few days off to recharge your batteries like some of your colleagues, or go off on one of those conference jollies" says Col. "You have been working much too hard recently, I know how early you have been getting in here in the morning and how long you have stayed here at night. You need a break."

Perhaps he is right. But I am determined to at least make the effort today. As I leave the building I discover that it is pouring down with rain and I have left my coat in my office. Never mind, I think, and make a dash for it. Arriving at the Library I glance at my watch and decide to go to the Library coffee bar first. After all I left most of the coffee that I had made myself in my office.

Sitting in the Library coffee bar I get out my iPhone. I wonder what films are on at the cinema. Maybe I should give myself a bit of a treat and go to see a movie in the evening. Looking at the choices it occurs to me that as the schools are off everything on at the multiplex is aimed at teenagers or even younger kids.

I check my emails on my phone. Mostly boring stuff, but then I see one from Jack. He says that he, Richard and Sian are going to meet for lunch at The Ship pub where we go after staff seminars. Would I like to join them at around 12.30? Why not, I think. Only a couple of hours to waste until then. Let's get another cup of coffee.

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