This was a fairly normal Saturday for us. I ws pleased to have given the lawns their routine haircut yesterday because today it was certainly gloomier and chillier. By prior arrangement, I took along a pile of old nespapers which an acquaintance of mine needed for a decorating job in he was about to engage. Then we were joined by our University of Birmingham friend and we reminisced a little about the days when we were employed and when, at our level of seniority, we actually had a room to ourselves. Our friend had paid a visit to see some of his former colleagues and discovered that they had been relocated into a new building. However they now had to share three colleagues to a room to which the majority of staff had responded by promptly working as much a they could at home. The few who did not work at home often enjoyed the facilities affored by a whole room if colleagues were absent for a lot of the time. However my friend felt that in modern patterns of working, quite a lot had been lost. In the University in which I worked, there was a staff common room which was a tremendously useful facility for bumping into colleagues from other departments that you might not normally see but with whom you may have shared some common interests. In the fullness of time, then then management decided that this staff common room was a 'waste of valuable space' and commandeered it for their own purposes thus, at a stroke, reducing the benefits to the college as a whole that came from these type of social interactions. Of course this was not measurable as such and it reminded me very much of the dictum associated with Albert Einstein,I think, to the effect that 'Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.' I personally think that this is a brilliant quotation and alerts us to the fact when measurement and performance indicators abound, one has to be aware not to be absolutely overtaken by the metrics of the situation, I used to feel this particularly when students were choosing subjects for their Final Year Projects. Some choices were relatively safe asuch as 'Green Business' but other subjects were inherently much less researchable, despite being of great interest. Together with a few colleagues, we felt that we ought to reward intellectual bravery for those few students who chose intrinsically more challenging topics but, needless to day, 'intellectual bravery' does not figure in the normal rubric associated with marking schemes and degree classifications.
As we were in the car for our visit to the park, we took the opportunity to call at our local BP garage in order to utilise their tyre testing facilities. Before today, I have generally concentrated upon the 'beep' to tell you that the air pressures were equalised between the machine and your own tyre but glancing at the monitor on the machine, I realised for the first time that you could actually measure your progress in getting the correct type pressure by observing the gauge on the machine as well as waiting for the auditory signal. This afternoon, as autumn is approaching, I decided it was time to prepare a root vegetables soup. I prepared far too many vegetables and therefore saved two thirds of them but tonight's soup is based on fried onions and a parboiled mixture of parsnips, carrots, swede and celery. This lot gets thrown into the soupmaker to finish off but I add half a jar of tomato or balti sauce,half a tin of coconut milk and a dash of some sauce which glories in the name of chip shop curry I had bought quite some time ago. When we return from church this evening, which is our regular early commitment on Saturday evenings, the soup will just have a quick heat up served with some toast as croutons and a dollop of plain yogurt. As I was preparing the vegetables for the soup, I listened to 'Any Questions' on Radio 4 which I always like to think of the voice of middle England. This program is followed by a companion program known as 'Any Answers' and I know that the BBC tries very hard to ensure that that which is broadcast is a fair representation of the views that have been received. The interesting thing is following yesterday's 'mini-budget' which turned out to be the greatest dash for growth since the infamous Barber budget of 1972 (in which a boom was followed by a resounding crash, the budget stimulated a series of responses in which listeners seem to be incandescent with rage about the inequities it contained. I do not think that a single opinion in support of the budget was received by the BBC and one wonders what the opinion of the world-wide institutional investors will be once the stock exchanges open again next Monday morning and whether the pound will continue to fall against the dollar.