Clearly I have too much time on my hands: I spend all my time lying by the pool conjuring up names for new rock ‘n’ roll tribute bands – Fake That, Not the Hoople, AD:BC, You Too, and so on. My very favourite is one I heard from a UK comedian expressing her undying devotion to a Welsh Boy Band with strong eco-credentials called Boy-o-Zone. Do you think I can convince the Chair of the University Sustainability Committee to get them to open next year’s Sustainable Living Festival?
When I’m not being so wickedly creative as a wordsmith, I’m busy travelling. I’ve been in Singapore and Vietnam visiting our fabulous offshore campuses, though much of the time I spent rooted on the kerbside in Ho Chi Minh City, gathering enough nerve to step into the multi-directional mayhem that passes as a traffic system in that crazy city. It’s an act of utter daring combined with blind faith and robust fatalism – rather like being a PVC.
We left Hanoi just as the US President landed. It was not that I was keeping the bed warm for him, but that the city was strewn with leagues of secret service security men and their sniffer dogs. I even found one lurking in the wardrobe of my hotel room – I don’t know how long he’d been there, but he could have had the decency to iron my shirts.
I encountered only one street demonstration while I was there – hundreds of serenely cycling protesters chanting a phrase that I struggled to interpret – the effect was impressive, despite their message being lost on me.
So, in the meantime here’s a picture of me with the inestimable Gretchen Wilkins, a member of staff from the School of Architecture and Design who has been ‘embedded’ in the Saigon South campus in Vietnam to develop a new Masters program. She’s making great progress and her recent presentation to a very senior team of visitors was described as one of the clearest presentations of program design ever heard. Nice one Gretchen, not a word lost in translation.