Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bringing it one step closer

And so it came to pass that a sleepy teenager was crowbarred into the car at 8am on a Saturday morning and driven by his equally sleepy stepfather to the University of the West of England for an open day. The teenager was able to sleep for most of the way down the M4.

"I've read it all on the web, I don't need to see it ..."

Though even he ultimately admitted he was glad he went.

Accommodation Lady couldn't handle the complexities of interrupting a Powerpoint presentation to show a filmclip off a DVD. Eventually a parent in the audience had to show her how. She got the filmclip running and immediately (for some reason) clicked on the Powerpoint in the background, which of course came to the front and blanked out the filmclip. I have never before heard such tragic two syllable desolation as her squeaked "oh no!"

I fancied I detected a stirring of interest next to me when she got to the university's Student Village: "en suite and wireless internet." I was not wrong.

The course of interest is joint honours in Criminology and Media & Cultural Studies (i.e. watching lots of CSI). Criminology Lady was faced with a roomful of about 100 assorted parents and would-be students. She would wander vaguely around with a pile of about five brochures to hand out, get rid of them all, notice with a start of surprise that there were still some other people who didn't have one, and get another five out of the box at the back of the room. I got hold of one before my pension became due by standing in front of her and not moving until she pressed one into my hands.

The Media Dudes scored the most points with a bit of two-way banter, an interesting presentation and just giving the impression of being guys you could get on with. One had a pigtail and had to be gently coaxed away from getting into a Mac vs Windows dialogue with a parent in a public meeting. (Perhaps he could have a useful word or two with Accommodation Lady?) Definitely a score, anyway.

The course would be at UWE's St Matthias campus, a pleasantly period (I'm guessing Victorian or early C20) place with sixties add-ons, apparently known as the Harry Potter Campus. Across the valley and the other side of the M32 is UWE's main Frenchay campus, sitting gleaming at the top of its hill like mighty Diaspar. That's where the Student Village is, and at some time in the next three years the course will move over there so that's where Bonusbarn will end up. So I took him on a drive around it, also showing him the offices of my ultimate masters, HEFCE (who provide the dosh) and JISC (who pass it on to us).

"They're on a university campus. You're in a science park. Why aren't you in charge of them?"

We tried to drive into the city centre. On a Saturday? I hear distant laughter from any readers who have actually met Bristol. Quite why someone decided to build the M32 on stilts through some quite pleasant pre-war suburbs, injecting traffic directly into the heart of the city, I don't know. He had to take my word for it that once you're through the tangled spaghetti of traffic lanes winding past the feet of concrete monstrosities, it's quite pleasant in there. He's probably taking a year out and he has friends who will be there next year, so they can show him round in due course.

It's quite possible I was present at the precise moment when Bonusbarn began to think seriously about being a student. Cor.


  1. We did this a couple of weeks ago - a v long trek to a Scottish university. Pretty terrifying to think we're that old; but also gratifying to see the son begin to get the gist of why going to uni is a good idea. This time next year....

  2. Scotland? Eek! That's a long way. But yes, we are that old and there's a strange sort of feeling that we're only just beginning ...


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