Yeah, Green and Purple got me going in circles….

Salutations from Strategy Week! I’m guaranteed to go stir crazy by all this time spent in the Storey Hall and the Green Brain. Getting from level 3 to level 7 I’m like a ferret up a drainpipe, up and down those strange stairs that run diagonally up the middle of the building. You know those stairs? A vertical corridor of emerald green: it’s like gliding up a runner bean. As you puff to the top, it dawns on you that the escape door may not actually open from your side. You realise this just as the door at the foot of the vast stairwell slams closed and you resign yourself to a life trapped in the dimmed heart of a shapeless space. Unheard, unreachable, unmissed. Like living in Canberra. Strategy Week passing by, and nothing but a flaky canapé between you and oblivion.


I think my sensory system can only cope with a certain amount of green and purple, purple and green. Don’t get me wrong; the architecture is remarkable, it leaves a lasting impression, like a lingering bruise. It puts the Radical in RMIT. But I’ve always found the combo of green and purple, purple and green a tad confronting. One of my creative colleagues described it as like living inside a pancreas, which I found a harsh if somewhat obscure reference. But certainly one to remember.

It must be the fine artist in me but you’ll not find the two colours side by side in many memorable paintings. Mondrian loathed the colour green, never used it. Not once. Heavy on primaries was Piet. Edgar Degas was equally disdainful. Apparently nurtured a habit of turning his back on trees. Had a reputation for closing the curtains in train carriages so as not to upset his equilibrium by the sight of fields, forests, and the occasional passing Storey Hall. Sensitive souls these post-impressionists. Quite what our Edgar would make of the Green Brain glimpsed from the Number 2 tram is anyone’s guess.

So yes, Strategy Week. Off to a flying start in a benighted debating hall, which nicely muted the green and purple, purple and green. Followed by some inspirational sessions with people in armchairs, people on coloured stools, people sitting in circles, people sat in long lines, many of them awake. Who could not have been deeply touched by Ian’s guest speaker Omar, a refugee with an astonishing past. He reminded us about what is truly important in life and work. He reminded us not to be distracted by trivialities. It was a privilege to hear him speak.

And who could not have been knocked out by the selective use of pink Boa’s by Gael and Rachel in a lively session on ‘passion’. Purple and pink: a bit like my graduation robes.


Meanwhile, I’m kept busy delving into the pile of stationery that is supplied with such liberal abandon at these events – coloured biros, felt tips, great globules of blu-tack, paper by the ream load, reams by the paper load, and, glory be, crates of those funny little sticky note pads. Who’d ever have thought that you could create a global brand with sticky squares of paper that don’t actually stick? And the colour range available to young people today! My, when I was a lad there were nowt but a pale yellow if you were lucky: now they come in every colour invented by humankind, including an uncanny jade hue which the cognoscenti amongst us described as ‘tint of teal’. More green you see. More serious stuff tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here’s a recent picture of me, back in the Storey Hall with some very clever and happy award-winning students. A fine figure composition in green and purple, purple and green.




‘The Dream Team’. A daily account of strategy week

Strategy week kicked off with a formal debate that argued that the future was too uncertain, our strategy as a university was doomed, why bother trying. The VC was convenor. Stakes were high. My team was up against 2 outstanding comedians and a futurist AKA futurologist. Game on! I had the dream team. Rachel and Renee. Rachel Wilson, a stellar member of our teaching staff who is leading the Belonging Project, and Renee Peterson, a master’s student who has had a career as a TV and radio presenter. She could have regaled the 300 people in the Strategy Week audience with fascinating tales of interviewing film stars – Tom (Cruise, and Hanks), Russell (Crowe, and Brand), but also Cameron (Diaz not David) and the venerable Nicole Kidman – but she led with a brilliant anecdote about falling flat on her face when about to interview Sir Ben Kingsley in London. With only 4 minutes allotted to her interview and working to a tight deadline to get the film back for national broadcast, she picked herself up (literally), adjusted her hair and drew on everything she’d learned as a student and did the interview with a charming Sir Ben.

We won the debate hands down, or actually hands together, as it was done by a rather unscientific (but of course entirely accurate) survey of audience applause. First time I’ve ever been on the ‘Negative Team’ though! More on this blog from the trenches of Strategy Week every day….