Edwin Phillips hears contentious Pro Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, Hilary Lappin-Scott (HL-S), tell a bemused colleague (C) about her latest honour, after enraging staff with tweets from around the world, being a senior figure at an institution where a convicted fraudster exposed by The Eye was employed on a contract, and which was dogged by controversy over previous people in charge of its management school.
HL-S: Go on, go on, ask me. C (attempting to pass in corridor but giving up): Ask you what? HL-S: Go on, go on, ask me! C: Er, what sort of Christmas, or rather ‘festive time’, did you have?
HL-S: No, no, go on, go on, ask me. C (Sighing): Er, what are you doing for New Year? HL-S: No, no, go on, go on, ask me. C (trying not to grin): Er, will your New Year resolution be to do less academic damage to Swansea University in 2018 by spending more time overseas and telling us all about your travels?
HL-S: No, no, go on, go on, ask me. C (trying not to grin again): Will your resolution be to buy and, even better, to read a book on entrepreneurship so that you can then say you actually know something about it?
HL-S: No, no, go on, go on, ask me. C (staring into space): Will your resolution then be to buy and, even better, to read a book on a discipline other than science so that you can say that you know something about interdisciplinary research?
HL-S: No, no, go on, go on, ask me. C (smiling broadly now): Then will it be to get somebody to write a few more ‘power point’ slides for you so that the audience does not have to sit through you recycling the same old dross on gender, equality, and diversity?
HL-S: (Not noticing insult) ah, you are getting warmer. C: (Sighing again) can I give up? HL-S: No, not when I, as a Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor, say NO.
C: We could be here for most of 2018. HL-S: Think of the most deserving award, think of Her Maj. and then think of me, me, me, me. C: (With a look of realisation on face and quietly) oh, I fear what is coming … (coughing and louder) do you want me to get on my knees?
HL-S: (Not picking up on irony) on this occasion that will not be necessary. C (resignedly): So what bauble did you get?
HL-S: Obviously the highest of all the civilian honours. C: So Dame Lappin, is it? HL-S: Er, no. Damehoods are given to dancers and other rather trivial personnel (muttering under breath) like that Jane Beer woman at Liverpool.
Anyway, as everybody knows (quietly) because I tell them (louder) I am a very serious scientist, an entrepreneur, and an expert in interdisciplinary research. This is so much better than that. It is an OBE.
C (wearily): Congratulations, but I hate to disabuse you. The award of the OBE is one of the lower rank of awards. HL-S: (Angrily) what! I have been misled! This simply will not do. I suppose that for the moment I will have to be seen to accept it gracefully. But I will phone them, and send letters of complaint to Buck House and No. 10 forthwith.
The powers-that-be have not heard the end of this. This is only the start of my quest for global recognition (under breath again) and first-class plane tickets from now on, (louder to colleague) on a more parochial note, my ennoblement will GUARANTEE a Vice Chancellorship. (Tapping nose) no names, no pack-drill but current incumbent at Swansea University has had a good run for his money.
C (Quietly): Even if that money would not be enough for a female Vice-Chancellor with a double-barrelled surname.
On Monday, Edwin Phillips unveils our New Year caption competition for a picture of another senior Swansea University official.