Friday, 21st May, 2021

[Day 431]

Today I heard a weather forecaster say ‘Well today, it has seemed rather autumnal’ and so it has been all day. It was certainly drizzling most of the morning and when it came to be time for our daily walk, we have to make a judgement call whether we are going to brave a walk or ‘chicken out’ and go and use the car. The weather, although cloudy, looked as though it might settle and so we decided to brave it and undertake our normal walk down. By the time we reached the park, however, the drizzle had turned into a drip-drip – nonetheless, we met up with our University of Birmingham friend who was fortunately equipped with a large golfing umbrella under which we all huddled. I was explaining to our friend, having worked in a Business School for so many years, that in the Business Studies family, you got a range of subjects ranging from the more mathematical/numeric (Economics, Econometrics, Statistics, Accounting, Operational Sciences) through subjects like Law and finishing off at the ‘softer’ end of the spectrum in subjects like Psychology and Sociology which fed into subjects like Personnel Management. But it was true to say that in some of the subjects with ‘Management’ in the title (I exclude Management Science though) there was plenty of room for what might be pejoratively called ‘bullshitting’ in which all kinds of anecdotal knowledge were passed off as though it were an academically respectable subject. I was explaining to our friend that whereas most of us academic staff by definition were good at one or two things (which is why we got good degrees in the subject and eventually came to lecture in the subject) our Business Studies graduates were like the grammar school boys who were good in a whole range of subjects without excelling in any one of them. We often used to speculate in our staffroom how well we would have coped in a degree regime which ranged from Statistics, Law, Accounting on the one hand to Psychology and Sociology on the other) We never quite arrived at an answer to this question. Eventually, the rain started to come down in earnest and so we trudged home feeling somewhat wet and soggy. It was a case of ‘coats off and into the garage to dry out’ time.

After lunch, we were settling down for a good read when we got a telephone call from our friend in Oxfordshire. As part of his online business, he was running a webinar on the subject of business ethics so I used as a pilot to help him test out some of his material. In a range of some ten little scenarios, the respondent was asked to identify in a couple of sentences the nature of the crucial ethical issues involved. What will be fascinating to see when the webinar is actually run is the degree of consensus (or lack of it) in the range of replies. Of course it is quite possible that as a ‘guinea pig’ I might have missed some of the crucial issues that I ought to have identified – and it could be that I have thought of some issues that hadn’t occurred to anyone else. Time will tell when my academic colleague and I have a debrief.

In the early evening, I FaceTimed one of my erstwhile colleague from the University of Winchester. We generally have quite a good old natter about things in the news that have taken our fancy and go down memory lane a little to recall amusing incidents in our academic careers. I felt rather mortified that I had remembered my friend's birthday a few days late but nonetheless a belated birthday card is winging its way down to Hampshire.

It looks as though the Government and the authorities at Heathrow are finally tumbling to a solution to a problem that has been staring us all in the face. Travelling destinations have been categorised as red zone (strict quarantine upon one’s return to the UK, amber zones (some quarantine at home) and green zone (no restrictions to speak of). Passengers from all of these destinations may well intermingle at pressure points such as check-in areas, communal shopping, security and so on. The solution to be adopted is as follows. All red zone passengers will be allowed only through Terminal 4, just as soon as this can be operational organised. This leaves the amber and green passengers free to intermingle but at least insulated from the probably highly infective nature of the red zone passengers. This all sounds eminently sensible at this point of time but the question arises why the policy not thought out before the delineation into different zones. And after the loosening of the lockdown restrictions, it looks as though the infection is starting to creep up again and the June 21st date (for a complete end to restrictions) is starting to look more and more problematic.