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Prawls and Prabbles

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‘You look like someone who’s going in the same direction as me.’

‘Caoimhe, hey, yeah—the Prince of Wales, if you fancy one or three.  I’m meeting John B. and his new grad student down there later, but I just couldn’t take any more marking. The syntax! How’re you doing?’

‘Oh grand. The usual. Up to my oxters in admin. Patiently explaining why self-fashioning is important in the Statutes of Kilkenny is not a thesis statement.  Final year student, too, where are we going wrong, Meg?

‘Aye, I know.  It’s no like we don’t tell them, right? And there’s this cross-disci—’

‘The Cross-Purposes Working Group? Janey Mac, that’s tomorrow, isn’t it?  Better lash something together for that.  Pints first though.  What’s yours?’

Meg plumped down with her beer.  ‘Any good news?’

‘Eh—Jayes.  Kind of.  I’m after getting an e-mail from Tom Gower this morning.’

‘Aye? how’s he getting on?’

‘Ah, grand, yeah.  He’s shteppin out with that fella Llew from the classics department, you know, the Welsh guy, the one we met when we were down there for the EAISS conf?’ 

‘Weel, that was only a matter of time.’

Caoimhe fiddled with her phone, brought up a photograph. Meg craned over.

‘Aw, aren't they sweet thegither? Shame when Tom has to come back here, though. Not that long-distance relationships aren't practically the norm—’

‘Yeah, but. Meg, let me tell you.’

‘Gossip? I’m all ears.’

‘Well, OK.  You remember that new young Head of School over there, yeah, Leroy?’

‘How could I forget?  Creep.’

‘Well, Llew’s been mentoring this teaching fellow, just coming up for a contract renewal.  He’s been doing fine, and they want to keep him on, but it’s not in the bag because of funding, you know the way.  And then Leroy hauls Llew in and says that he’s got evidence of misconduct on the fella, Williams is his name, and there’ll have to be a disciplinary procedure and all that shite.’

‘What sortae thing? Misconduct, I mean.’

‘Not academic.  And nothing to do with students.  He’d said a few of the wrong things to the wrong people online, and it got a bit heated.’


‘Well, the wrong people included Leroy himself.’

‘You mean he actually trolled him—set him up—?’

‘So Llew and Tom reckon.’

‘You’re shitting me—’

‘Unbelievable, isn’t it?  If I hadn’t actually met the scar-faced shitehawk I’d’ve thought it was just Llew getting in a tailspin.’

‘Eh, nu, Caoimhe. That isn’t f— But I mean, what for? Why would someone do a thing like that?’

‘He’s a fucking psychopath, is why.  I’m serious.  So, you remember what Llew's like—such a fuss—well, you know, conscientious—he’s all about warning Williams what's happened, and your man’s completely bewildered, doesn’t know what’s going on, and at the preliminary meeting Leroy has Llew outline the entire case, like he’s nothing to do with it.  And then he turns round and says Williams was quite right to say what he said, and renews his contract.’

‘Jist like that.’

‘Yup. And it’s up to Llew to find the funding for it. And to try and make it up to Williams Llew—’

’Oh no, this bit isnae guid, is it?’

‘You can imagine what he’s like all in a fluster right enough—offers him this bit of research assistant work, dogsbodying really—’

‘Oh, cringe—’

‘And of course your man practically spits in his face.  So now he’s got a protegé who can’t stand the sight of him and a Head of School who’s just made him look a complete amadán in front of half the department. You have to say he’s been a bit naïve all right, but no-one deserves that. I’d say he's got right at the top of his browser history.’ 

‘Haven’t we all?’

‘Anyway, Tom took him out to drown his sorrows and that’s how they—’

‘Oh, weel, sortae silver lining—’

‘Mmm—ah, look at our young Master Bates staring about him like a bullock blocking the boreen—eh, over here, John—’

‘Well, well, Dr Ní Mhuiris—fancy meeting you in the pub—you’ve met Caoimhe already, haven’t you, Alex?’

‘Yes, hey there.’

‘And Margaret Jamie —Alexandra Court. Alex is just beginning some very promising, if I may say so, work on Hölderlin and Rilke—Meg specialises in the Scots Chaucerians—‘

Meg rolled her eyes and mouthed makars into her three-quarters-empty pint glass. Alex, already aware that her young, inexperienced supervisor tended to fogeyishness, recognised an irritant though not quite the terms of it, and grinned in fellowship. Meg winked back.