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Spinning straw into...

The last couple of weeks life seems to have returned to normality. Not quiet. Certainly busy. But approaching whatever passes for normal.

On the professional front, I've submitted my first paper done from Swansea stuff. This was the paper off the work I presented in Naples.

On the domestic front, we were nailing down floorboards in preparation for Dad coming to stay. Unfortunately, one step forward, two steps backwards: I put a nail through one of the central heating pipes, so had to pull up a few boards and have the pipe replaced. They're back down now, but it means that all wasn't in readiness when Dad arrived last night.

Everything else as normal. So I thought I'd tell you a story. Twice, in fact.


Once upon a time, a researcher wanted to impress the funding agency. He wrote a grant proposal to develop a procedure for spinning straw into gold, claiming that his student had preliminary results which were quite promising.

The funding body, seeing third mission possibilities, gave him a year's worth of funding provided he was able to get good results, or else they would withdraw all funding from him, and he in turn, would set the student adrift. Five months into the year, the student finally received all her equipment. A couple of months later, she was finally able to start work.

All of this was, however, largely irrelevant, as it is not physically possible to spin straw into gold.

Fortunately for her, as the year approached completion, she was approached by a dwarf. This dwarf offered to write the paper for her demonstrating how to spin straw into gold, provided she gave him her first tranche of research funding when she was tenured. She readily agreed. He fulfilled his side of the bargain and, after suitable repetition in the story, she was given a PhD and then a tenured position.

Along came the dwarf asking for the funding. She said yes, but, given that she had no qualms about lying about the origins of her work in the first place, she had no qualms about betraying the helpful dwarf, either. She turned him into a masters student, locked him in a lab somewhere, and he was never seen again. (Surely no one actually believes that stuff about guessing his name etc. What is his motivation for that? Why should he risk all for no benefit?).

And she lived happily ever after.

Rumplestiltskin didn't.

Rumplestilskin II

Once upon a time, there was an opposition political party leader. This political party leader wanted to win Government, but he could not get enough of the vote. One day, while he wase working out this election strategy, he was contacted by Rumplestiltskin. Rumplestiltskin promised him a winning strategy, provided, when the political leader won Government, he would make education his priority.

This deal was agreed. And Rumplestiltskin spun and he spun and he spun. And, sure enough, the politician won office and became prime minister.

And Rumplestiltskin came to see the PM, who, instead of making education a priority, turned the universities into child-minding centres (with alcohol) and tried to close down the good schools so everyone would have an equal start in life (although behind people from other countries where the education system hasn't been dismantled). Rumplestiltskin went to the Prime Minister begging him to fix the system, handing him a list of proposals. The PM gave him an ASBO. Rumplestiltskin couldn't even stamp his feet without being arrested.

Can you guess the PM's name?


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