Queensland is a very big state. You could fit ten Britains into it if you squashed them up a little and still have room for several Isle of Mans. So it is no surprise that occasionally people get lost. It is rarer that a whole University is lost. But that is what happened to Yubbadubba University - it completely disappeared from all official lists. This was probably due to it being the last University alphabetically and someone in the Ministry using double-sided printing. As it was also bottom of every single measurement of quality and performance, no-one thought to turn the page over to find it.
Fortunately the Commonwealth of Australia still sent vast sums of money to the Yubbadubba bank account so no-one in Yubbadubba was aware of their own extinction. And as the academic staff never published anything or had the slightest intention of attending a conference, being in a non-existent university was not discernable from being in an existent one.
But what of the students? 99.98% of students were remote from the university and their footprint was that of ant on supine elephant. In fact for the last seven years a boo-boo in IT had meant that the lecturers had been logged onto the test system and had been marking the 2003 intakes assignments each year. No-one had noticed, but marking had got noticeably quicker.
But at least the internal students were real: Kevin and Ulla Patterson, however no-one could remember seeing them since their first exam three years ago when they had ran screaming hysterically from the hall after one and a half minutes.
It was a terrible pity as the Patterson twins had been the first, and possibly the last students attending Yubbadubba High, to pass any exam. in their case, Nutrition and Personal Hygiene. This may have had something to do with the school's water supply being downstream from the Yubbaplumma lead mine oulet. The fact that the Patterson's only ever drank diet coke may also be evidential.
Yubbadubba township was not the most picturesque of rural Australian towns. There was a river between July and September, which then became a breeding ground for mosquitoes until it dried up completely at Christmas. It was traditional at Christmas to have plagues - frogs, toads, mice, rats, locusts, and every three years,political candidates.
From the last plague, one would become MP and automatically be Chancellor of Yubbadubba University.
Most academics at Yubba 'work from home' much of the time. The record of three years without appearing in the office was held by Professor Chou until it was discovered that for at least eighteen months she had been dead.
So as we enter the staff common room we find there are only six inhabitants.
In one corner two of the three law lecturers are intentely conversing. The School of Law is not, at the moment, accredited for practice in any Australian state, but graduates are allowed to do conveyancing in Vanuatu (up to Vatu 50,000, the price of a medium-sized grass hut).
One law lecturer is Helena Grope. As always she is accompanied by the click-clack of needles. Helena took up knitting as a form of relaxation therapy, but found casting off too traumatic and so now has an unfinished scarf 644 metres long which follows her everywhere in a large trolley. Knitting is not as relaxing as Helena had hoped, but she is too worried of the effects of going 'cold-chicken' to give it up.
The opposite of short, plump Helena is Dr A. V. Flint - tall, skeletal, reserved. Dr Flint, no-one has ever asked what the initals stand for,is speaking.
'There is no alternative Helena, as the most senior staff member it is your duty to take this form to the Head of School for his signature. It is vital!'
'But Dr Flint - last time Andy saw me he called me brain sucking zombie and tried to kill me with the office stapler. Fortunately he tripped over my scarf and he stapled his tie to his belly button.'
'I'm sure he is much more...connected to reality now.'
'So what is this form anyway?'
'Its my...ah, my car park space application'
In another corner are the two inseparable bio-chemists, Drs Hopley and Pilkington, but more of them later.
On his own, as always, is Professor Stanley Krack, the head, and only member, of the Philosophy Dept, intently studying a farming magazine about recent improvements in Merino sheep breeding. Professor Krack has written several books (an unusual feat at Yubba) on Animal Rights- 'Loving Animals', 'Cross-species Intercourse' etc - but it was only when he tried to but theory into practice that he had to leave Slovenia as soon as possible. But now he felt quite at home in rural Queensland and had even made some new friends, two of them human.
Sir Lionel Bass-Warrington had been ambassador to Guinnea-Bissau for a short period of time. Unfortunately this sole high-spot of a long and undistinguished carreer in Canberra was ruined by that fact that Australia doesn't have an ambassador in Guinnea-Bissau and he had mistaken that country for Papua New Guinea.
Many believe it was year or so he spent in the Osvaldo-Vierra VIP lounge due to the civil war, while his post was being performed brilliantly by a much younger and more talented man, that turned him to drink. Indeed one estimate was that Sir Lionel drank 97.3% of the duty-free held at the airport including approximately 200 bottles of bailey's and 300 of Kahlua. The only thing left was 35 crates of Midori and a packet of strawberry flavoured pork scratchings.
This beautiful morning, Sir Lionel is contentedly munching in his cocoa-pops in advocaat while his Long Island Ice Tea is chilling on his veranda table. Sir Lionel rarely bothers with his correspondence but his interest is drawn to a magazine entitled 'Australian Vice'. You can imagine his deep dissapointment when he pushed away several final-notices to discover it was 'The Australian Vice-Chancellor' with a picture with that smug bastard Bernie on the front.
However he did read Bernie's article 'If you don't have a Business Intelligence Department then you are a *******' . Bernie never minced his words. Much as he detested Bernie he knew it was smart to follow his advice.
He dialled HR, 'Maureen? Yes I'm very very sorry. It won't happen again. Yes send me the dry-cleaning bill... Now can you get me a Business Intelliegence guru. No, I don't know what it means either, just get me one. Yeah, love you too.' Good girl Maureen, very accommodating, she had a promissing career. So at least he had promised.
Adrian Platt was on the run. It was not as if he was an evil person, only a little bit unlucky. Anyone could have forgotten to divide the percentage figure by 100. It was just his luck that instead of the top 10 customers being given a brand new Toyota 12000 customers were offered one if they signed a new contract. 11999 immediately signed, the exception being Adrian himself. It cost the company $600,000,000 and they wanted their money back. No problem if you have professional indemnity insurance. Adrian's insurance form was in the glove compartment of his car. His car was now in the bailiff's car yard.
He had decided to start a new life in disguise, in the most obscure town in the world that still had flushing toilets. And so now he, or rather she, was wobbling down Yubbadubba's main street on newly aquired high-heels.
All Adriana needed now was a job, but where would a Business Intelligence guru get a job in a place like Yubbadubba?
An unexpected rendezvous
Helena Grope was an addict, and her addiction was to top quality wool. unfortunately, Helena had spent her salary, overdraft and credit card limit on the finest alpaca, cashmere and merino. But she still needed more! She devised a cunning, if somewhat insane, plan to fill her insatiable need.
And so she found herself near midnight crawling amongst a flock of dozing merino ewes carefully snipping off individual strands of prime merino fibre. As a disguise, for the sheep and any casual onlooker, she was wearing a sheepskin tied onto her back.
Unbeknown to Ms Grope a fellow wool fetishist, Prof Stanley Krack was also on the prowl. He was wearing a stylish trenchcoat and balaclava and little else.
Krack's torch shone on one ewe after another.
Helena Grope froze in the dim torchlight.
In the distant farmhouse Farmer Scruton thought he heard an unusual noise from his flock
'Baa baa baaaaaaa, oh my gosh, baaaa, baaaa, yes, yes, baaaaaaaaaaa'
Farmer Scruton decided to cut down on the whisky from now on and covered his ears with his pillow.
The next day Professor Krack and Helena Grope were observed by curious onlookers being in deep discussion over a knitting pattern.
That is all pretty clear.
One thing puzzles me though. If the law lecturer and the psychologist get married (as surely they now must) will they take conjoined surnames?
Will they have to move to New Zealand?
Eck seems very quiet
EF - you have a dirty mind. do you want to be co-author?
a foot in the door
Adriana could not believe her luck - the perfect job turning up in Yubbadubba. She was perfectly prepared - a false identity, a false cv, false referees and last, but not least, false tits.
Adriana made a very convincing woman, being a short, slim man with very little body hair and beguiling green eyes. In fact when he saw herself in the mirror he was rather taken by the beautiful woman who stared back.
So she walked confidently, or at least as confidently as she could in her heels, into the university admin building.
Adriana was shown into the Vice Chancellor's office by a rather drab looking middle-aged woman who seemed to have taken an instant dislike to her.
'Well hello there!' An elderly man with a face the colour, texture and smell of yesterday's omelette, grasped her hand firmly and yanked her into the office, at the same time kicking the door shut in .Maureen's outraged face.
The elderly man perched himself precariously on the edge of his desk.
'Would you care for a small glass of ...something relaxing?' he asked as he poured himself half a pint of brandy.
Adriana shook her head shyly.
Her coyness inflamed Lionel whe leaped, or raher tried to leap, on top of this gorgeous creature. Unfortunately he stepped into his wastepaper bin and fell over just as Adriana was standing up. His wrinkled claws grasped at her skirt and pulled it and her nether garments down.
From outside the office Maureen seemed to hear:
'Aaaaaargh - a sausage'.
Maureen burst into the office - Lionel was on his knees, a shocked look on his face. The Hussy, as Maureen thought of her, was pulling up her skirt.
'Maureen, remove this person - she....she is not qualified in business intelligence.'
Maureen eagerly grasped the Hussy by the collar and manhandled her into the street.
'And don't come back.'
Adrian glared at her 'oh i'll be back' he thought. But he didn't say anything. Maureen had that effect.