Communique from a fatuous present: #Goldstories

Sooo, I ended up attending the Warden’s, (Post-Man Pat “the Martyr” Loughry), open staff meeting at Goldsmiths. Sorry, @Golds. Ahem… my mistake  #Showcase #TellingOurStories @Gold @Positive dotkillmedotcommerce. What a rollicking affair it was too. Pat-a-cake Loughry kicked off the entertainments by jumping through a flaming hoop to tell us about the MOST IMPORTANT THING that had happened at goldsmiths in the past month. Dun dun dah… 2000 people came to the recent open day. Fucktastic. More than previously, we were told, this veritable stampede was made up of whole families. There are important calculations to be made now that fees have gone up to close to 9000 pa. A fee rise that Pat-me-bum fought against vigorously by either sticking his head up his own arse hole, or attempting to enforce punitive measures against students who were actually fighting the fee increase. In any case, the punch line was that some of the families had brought actual calculators. Aahaa! How we chortled.

In no way do I mean to detract from the very real excitement Pat-on-the-back felt in his bosom that fine day. I don’t really need to, as this was done perfectly well enough by one of the managerial minions whom Pat passed over to so that we could be told that enrollment levels had skyrocketed in comparison to this time last year. Unfortunately, this info was a week old, and sadly for the integrity of the wall of our collective bubble, no longer true. Pat-pat-there-there took the news the hardest, but his cape again began to flap majestically when we were told that the recruitment of students predicted to get AABs was up 40%. Lest we forget, there is no cap on the amount of student loan bearing AAB students the university can stuff into any of its available crevices, meaning that they are a veritable gift-horse politely covering its hairy mouth to those that calculate the uni in purely quantitative measures. Cha-ching! The AAA plus plus pluses are of course greedily gobbled down by the Russell Group so that they might receive adequate instruction in the arts and sciences of fucking their own cousins and running the country in the service of the rich. Such cynical and snooty recruitment is well beneath the high horse of our value-structure, we were told. Pat, pat, pat.

The room seemed to darken slightly when, with furrowed brow, Pat(hetic) informed us that those competitors who were ‘sleepwalking’ this time last year were now wide awake and aggressively fouling in, and fishing from, the collective pool. In addition, we had ourselves done some somnambulistic bed-shitting last year with regard to post-graduate enrollments. Curse us! Hey, man, come here, it’s ok. We were too modest; we need to be ‘active’ and ‘positive’. ‘We need to tell our story and tell it with’ some fucking ‘GUSTO’. As if in some sort of divine confirmation of the adage that it is always darkest right before the dawn, just as it seemed like we should chuck it all in, ‘Gold Stories – How Goldsmiths Changed the World’ came jumping through the aforementioned flaming hoop. Shouting to the heavens through a golden megaphone, Gold Stories will announce to the world that it owes us one. Big time. If that doesn’t drive enrollment up then we must be living in a topsy turvey world where the BBC has no skeletons in its closet (wink), where Jeremy Clarkson isn’t totally hilarious, and where glib marketing bullshit doesn’t have near magical powers. After all, it is not as if Patty-boom-sticks is in any way trying to preserve or create the conditions that would enable those in the university to change the world – stopping the re-stratification of the university across medieval class lines might be a good place to start. No, far too risky and expensive. Better to spend the money on the fecal milkshakes that give marketing boffins the energy they need to conjure the mirage of an un-fucked university.

It was at this thin-aired and magisterial apex, and with a deft rhetorical flourish, that Pat allowed a cloud to waft across the brilliant sun we had been raised toward so as to admire all the better.  ‘We need to put positive messages out into what is sadly a very negative world.’ Pat(ch Adams), with the disclaimer that he is not normally one for the excesses of American clichés, let us have a real beauty. We need to behave ‘as if’, because if we believe it, you know what, it comes true. Also, we need to celebrate our victories. Just this week, we have replaced the NatWest in RHB with a FUCKING SANTANDER! This is a BIG victory: for the college, staff, students, and the whole surrounding community, not least because of the scholarships they will provide. We had caught those greedy bankers napping and screwed them BIG TIME! Once again we felt the full warmth of the sun burst forth from behind the cloud that had temporarily been allowed to obfuscate its brilliance.

Enough of this steaming pile of reverie, cow Pat. Let me just stop you a moment there,  (mindless)Pat(ter), before this brown cloud threatens to choke us all with its pungent funk.  I know it is a sore point that you never finished your PhD because you had to go be Pat the Hatchet at the BBC, but I must make a small point of clarification about the terms positive and negative, given your feverish fondness for the first term in that binary. In philosophic terms – Philosophy is that subject Howard Caygill used to teach before he lost his job – it isn’t really correct to say that it is a ‘negative world out there’, P(l)ato. I mean, you could dispute this of course, but I would say that ‘the world out there’ is positive in the sense that it is actually existent, shit as it may be. Now, quite at odds with your positive postcards to Mr. Mean-ole-world, I would say that what we need to do is collectively negate the world as it presently exists. ‘Self-help’, self-delusional, I-believe-I-can-Flys aren’t really what is needed in the current conjuncture of the rapacious and accelerating attacks on Higher Ed, sorry hamburger Patty. Jim is not going to fix it.

With a slip of the tongue we were told that we were all ‘critical ambassadors’ of the college. Of course, critical meaning only very important here, any criticality being foreclosed by the necessity that we be continually dripping positivity from every nozzle. We need to go in to schools and harvest AABs. We need to showcase the research that it is becoming ever-more impossible to conduct in the university, precisely because of all the measuring and quantifying that provides data for #showcasing. We need ‘research excellence’, ‘public engagement’, ‘impact’. Pat(icularly hurt) had heard it said of Goldsmiths that ‘we are in Lewisham, but not of Lewisham.’ How can this be? We have our catchy catchphrases like ‘widening participation’, we have those lottery ticket scholarships for lucky locals. Eureka! It’s a misunderstanding. We can continue turning into a playground for rich, young, white children (who needs a nursery!), we just need to tell our story. Don’t forget the gusto.

And with that cascading crescendo of piss, we had reached a moratorium on monologues, and it was time for questions. The first question was an obvious plant: ‘when are we going to rename the New Academic Building?’ – ‘When we can think of another dead white guy to name it after’. Peels of laughter. I could just kissfuck you, you sensitive modern man. After several other banalities with inflected endings, finally, a question with some real anger. Pat+ had been singing the praises of the restructuring that was going to take place in Professional Services. Unfortunately it seems that the staff haven’t been told much about this and are duly concerned. Liz Bromley, in charge of this restructuring, was quick to the rescue with a precise explanation: ‘we need to make professional services a better fit for the college, we need it to drive decision making, we need to make sure that it can do, will do, and will do it.’ For some unknown reason, the question asker was not placated by such a perfect storm of managerial profundity. Patty Arbuckle swooshed in to the rescue by explaining it was because the ‘pods’ were too small and not allowing people to further their careers. Glomping them all into to one big group would enable careerists all to climb over each other’s cadavers to the dizzying heights of senior management’s coattails. Oddly the question asker still looked a little peeved, even when Catty Patty smiled like a bashful feline caught taking a shit.

On the heels of this completely understandable concern, a handsome gentleman inquired about the tragic situation at London Met and what the situation was at Goldsmiths. Strange to bring up such a triviality when we had the Open Day to talk about, but the masses must be humoured. Pat(hos) did a great impersonation of a very concerned person, and assured us all that him and his 1994 Group buddies had been lobbying like rabid dogs, behind the scenes, for the ‘humane treatment of London Met international students.’ Humane treatment? They aren’t abandoned pit bulls, Patio. They are students who are having their right to finish their studies fucked on in order to placate a bunch of fucking racists. Humane treatment? Like letting them travel back to their countries of origins in planes, like real humans? Or put down painlessly instead of death by having their faces kicked in by steel-toe boots? So pressing is this question of humanity, that the UKBA compliance officer at Goldsmiths is having to change her title to something a little less, you know, machinic.  Henceforth and forever more, she will simply be the UKBA advisor, with a fluffy hat and a free lollipop every time someone is deported. I kid, I kid, her heart is all circuitry and wires. Prior to landing at the Goldsmiths immigration desk Kathy Gardner worked in policy at the UKBA in Croydon for 10 years. Not a bad little racket, writing the intolerable, indecipherable shit then getting paid by ‘front-end service users’ to read the tea leaves. Genius.

Yet, as our benevolent Pat(riarch) counseled, we have to walk a very fine line, between compassion for international students (aww) and complying with the UKBA. The college is currently doing an internal audit to make sure that when Darth Vader does come to inspect progress in person, he doesn’t choke out any stormtroopers with The Force, or something. I may have lost interest for a moment or two at this point. Pat(ernal) is down with the kids, though. He knows there is ‘an enthusiasm for martyrdom out there.’ But, PAtlas has to think of the entire institution – hundreds of people’s livelihoods rest on the broad shoulders of this modern day managerial Hercules, not simply the martyrdom of a few. Yep, even though both the UCU and the SU both have a stance of non-compliance, I would hate for us to in any way jeopardise your job, Patman. After all, what is a university if not its managerial parasites and their ever-blossoming infestation? Fuck knows.

Anyway, too many difficult questions, time for another Patsy. ‘You spoke of our value system here at Goldsmiths earlier, I have heard a rumour that a Starbucks is going to be opening on campus, do you see Starbucks as fitting with our values?’ Order was restored, and a smile returned to the care-worn face of our brave overseer. Yes, there has been a rumour, no, it certainly isn’t true. RePatoir fired off a zinger about how he had paid more tax than those greedy 1%ers over at Starbucks last year. In his heart of hearts all he really wants is a student-run second hand bookstore. I’m guessing, a bit like the one that was going to open in one of the college buildings on New Cross Road but couldn’t because the College decided against it in the end. Aw Sad. We were consoled, however, by being told that the café in the SU ‘has extended the diet of south London immensely.’ I have no real idea what Patrician means by this, but I’m guessing it’s that all those kind of tracksuit wearing, McDonalds-gurgling-sort-of looking-people, those ones you occasionally have to make slightly frightening eye-contact with as you get into your expensive car, can now enjoy proper, ethical, vegetarian nutrition in the great canteen of life. Forget your £200k+ salary a year, forget that the average weekly household income in New Cross is around £400, forget that you don’t live here, you are not just in Lewisham Patrick Loughry, you are so fucking of Lewisham I could kiss your little face. Raucous applause filled the auditorium. My Love. Mein Fuhrer. Xx


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