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Archive for March 25th, 2007

I am no longer able to go to The Bollo on Sundays for lunch because the owners have decided they wish to encourage the well heeled young children of Chiswick to bring their hyperventilating parents to the pub to have a ‘Sunday Roast’ – and have, accordingly, banned smoking until the evening. This does not trouble me at all. Sitting in a pub with children, adoringly encouraged by yummy-mummy and stressed out banker-daddy, to scream, shout and run about, has little appeal. I simply went up the road to The Swan where the few children, who accompany parents for lunch, do not seem to have consumed quite the same number of E-numbers and appear, to my non-tutored eye, to be relatively normal.

I was fascinated by a report in The Sunday Times describing a new device, called a ‘Mosquito.’ The Mosquito gives out a piercing (and very unpleasant) noise, audible only to young people in their teens and early twenties and is being ‘deployed’ by some Police forces to disperse gangs of hoodies and yobs from ‘hanging out’ on street corners etc etc. [Some Chief Constables are holding back on deployment for fear of human rights issues.]  These devices cost £500.

I then turned to a short article, written by Ariele Leve, describing the pain she experienced, after having a filling replaced, when her gold lower filling came into contact with a silver upper filling. The different metals created an electric current. This reminded me of my own recent ‘self dental surgery.’

A couple of weeks ago, a crown on one of my front teeth came out when I bit into a piece of toast, at breakfast, at my café of choice in Chiswick. It was a simple matter to repair. I simply bought some superglue from the newsagent up the road and stuck it back into position – a delicate operation which I made a complete hash off. Superglue is powerful stuff. My tongue stuck to the crown – but, thankfully, I was able to prise it off. Although the crown was now at a slightly different angle, I decided that a visit to the dentist could wait. Three weeks later, the crown came out again. This time, I had to drill out old superglue from the crown with a needle to get the crown back onto the post at an even vaguely sensible position. After pulling my thumb and forefinger apart, I checked the result in the bathroom mirror. It was ludicrous. I looked like a crocodile and had to telephone a local ‘Non-NHS’ dentist to arrange an appointment. The receptionist was a bit baffled when I explained the nature of the problem. She expressed the view that sticking crowns back into my mouth with superglue was not a good idea.

The dentist, a charming woman, rolled her eyes when I explained to her what I had been up to. I sat down in the chair, reclined, and was given a pair of bright yellow safety glasses to put on. A young dental nurse, standing nearby, could barely contain her laughter as I decided to assist by pulling the crown off myself while the dentist looked at a rack of temporary crowns. I like being involved.

I was not given any opportunity to choose my own replacement crown – which was, in the circumstances, probably wise. Fifteen minutes later I had a perfectly fitted replacement crown. The dentist smiled, told me that it would be best if I left dental surgery to her in future and wished me well.

I turned my attention to another article: “Dons say classes of 100 now common”. It may have been the restorative effects of the Tempranillo… but, given that universities are now charging £3000 fees, I just had to laugh when I read :

“One Vice-Chancellor conceded that some universities ( were creaming…sorry, my interpolation…) cramming..students into a lecture theatre for some subjects.”

The article stated… “You can make a profit if you teach in large lecture groups and do nothing much
else.”

The article noted: ‘First year law students experience some of the biggest classes.”

“There is only one hall that will take 400. Law students are often in the medical faculty” said one academic. “The students who can’t get into the main room have to listen to the lecture relayed into an adjoining room.”

I’ve been involved in legal education for twenty-five years. I know exactly what the universities and private sector organisations are doing… they are ‘maximising assets.’

Frankly…this is a disgrace. Law is one of the cheapest subjects to teach. No laboratories, no expensive engineering equipment, no practical exercises which require major expenditure to run, no ‘patients’. Law academics are not well paid. Law libraries are relatively cheap to stock with books – especially in this era of electronic resources. . Vice-Chancellors rub their hands in glee at the prospect of running law courses.

See The Times Online story

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