Monday, 3 June 2013

Gus has a braai

Hello. My name 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!

Gus and Heather invited us round for a barbecue on Saturday evening (or, as they call it due to their frequent trips to South Africa, a braai). Richard and Bubbles were there too with Lindsay, and Jack and Phoebe, and Bob Bunn and his wife Sarah. Also some neighbours - about fifteen people altogether.

The food was really great. As well as the grilled meat there was some very nice pear and blue cheese salad, jacket potatoes and a huge bowl of strawberries to finish. We got through quite a lot of wine too. Gus had obtained two cases of New Zealand wine as put together by the ex-England cricketer and now commentator David Gower. He works with a company that you can see advertised at the cricket grounds and you can buy it online. These cases were linked to the tour of England by the New Zealanders. There will be an Australian one to try next month to go with the Ashes tour. Anyway, the Marlborough white was particularly nice. That reminds me, I must get back to Geoff Baxter to see how arrangements are going for the wine tasting event.

There were two main talking points. The first was about the university's appointment of a special representative in India to try to recruit more Indian students, especially in engineering and mathematics. Apparently newspapers in India are giving the impression that Indian students can't come to the UK any more due to the government's tough immigration policy. But, as Vince Cable recently commented, while it may be more difficult to come here at the moment it is not impossible. And indeed we should be welcoming students from India, not treating them as an immigration problem. It appears that our VC has this attitude too. And the person he has appointed is a British born man of Indian extraction who used to work in the Business School. So maybe he will be on the lookout for potential postgraduates for us too.

The other talking point was an incident at a city centre pub on Friday night. Apparently the economics students and the European Business students (who are mainly German) had organised a "drink the pub dry" competition. At one stage things got a bit out of hand and the police were called. Fortunately Bethany Bright was there and she managed to calm things down. But the press got wind of what was happening and a reporter and photographer turned up. There was a picture and story in yesterday's local paper. The VC, Mike Rowe and Paige Turner will not be amused, especially as the paper reported that none of them was available for comment. Gus said it reminded him of what happened in Coventry in 1970 . The University of Warwick students competed with students from what was then known as Lanchester Polyechnic (now Coventry University) to drink the City Arms Earlsdon out of beer. Mike remembers a fight starting which caused him to leave the pub, only to find himself being pushed into a police van by a policeman. However, after a few seconds Mike had realised that the van door was still open and the policeman was no longer around. So he jumped out of the van and legged it! He says that many years later at a conference he heard a UWE lecturer who had been a student at Lanchester Poly in 1970 telling exactly the same story.

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