Our previous Vice Chancellor lived in a University provided house located in the heart of Salford. The house was a beautiful 3 storey building which the VC had filled with furniture and artefacts collected from his time in South Africa. I have been there many times for meetings, meals and celebratory events. Our previous VC described the house as being 'your house' (meaning it belongs to colleagues in the University) and as 'his home' while he was VC.
I mention this as one of the few moments of calm I experienced in what was an amazingly challenging week was to celebrate the retirement of my colleague Lesley G. Last Friday we gathered together to celebrate her many contributions to the NHS and to nurse education. She was an Enrolled Nurse who became a Matron, specialised in sexual health and was someone who our students truly respected. Spookily there is a connection between Lesley and the previous VC's house.
The first time colleagues from the School were invited to the ex VC's house was to celebrate Christmas. A good crowd from the School (including Lesley) turned up on what was a very snowy evening. Lesley and her friend Ann, had unknown to me, already started to celebrate Christmas with colleagues at a Christmas lunch. It was a lunch that involved a glass or two of red wine. At the VCs house we all got to enjoy a glass of wine or two, canapés and the warmth of each other’s company. The VC welcomed us all and told us that it was 'your house' and hoped we felt at home.
When it came time to leave, most colleagues were happy to get their coats and step out into the snow. Lesley (and her friend Ann) were comfortably ensconced in one of the many sumptuous sofas, and didn't really see the need to get up and go. When I tried to persuade her that it really was time to leave, she reminded me that the VC had told us all that this was 'our house', so she really didn't need to leave just yet. Of course being the consummate professional she was, we all eventually left the VC to enjoy 'his home' on his own.
And last week, I had lunch with a Baroness. It was all in a good cause of course. I was part of the University recruitment committee set up to select our new VC. Last Monday was the end of an exhaustive process of selection. It was VC Recruitment Day. The Baroness was Beverley Hughes our Chair of Council, and she had, over the past few months, very skilfully led the process of selecting our new VC. Who was appointed? - well the answer to that question is embargoed until next week. I am however, extremely pleased that we have been able to make the appointment we have. So watch this space.
Given that last week was a challenging and a very busy week, I didn't get to do much reading. I did however get to read about my favourite supermarket struggling and posting a huge loss; of a local MP who’s misgivings about 'Devolution Manchester' meant that if was elected he may well halt plans to devolve more power to the people of Greater Manchester (I can’t comment on this notion given we are in purdah); I also learnt of the marriage of George Kirby (103 years old) and his partner of 27 years, Doreen Luckie (91), a wonderful love story; but for me, in a reading-less week, the story that made me smile the most had to be the anti-wee paint story.
Hamburg City Council is using a paint developed through nano-technology to deter late night revellers from taking a pee in public on the way home. This is a paint that simply bounces back anything sprayed at it, which might come as a surprise to anyone taking a leak against a wall. Well last week, one of the candidates for Manchester City Council announced that they wanted the Council to consider using this paint to protect the buildings and their surroundings in the city centre – as the paint cost about £500 for every 6 square metre covered, it might be better to think about installing more public toilets! And in case you are wondering, the ex VC's University house had 2 bathrooms and one separate toilet. To be frank, I don't recall anyone ever peeing into the rose beds.