TELL TALE SOUNDS
In the early art school days it was difficult to discern patterns of professional discipline. Any disturbance of the status quo or resort to physical violence was termed "very unprofessional..." Matters were usually sorted out in the Pub later. But the conduct of one head of department in seemingly running a parallel business to his educational career, had seemingly come to the attention of the Funding Body. Getting the first Inter City train after he had opened his shop every morning entailed arriving in post well into the coffee break before being swept off to the Long Lunch.
Unusually a disciplinary panel was called to which he was summoned. Several charges were laid which meant little to me. He sat cross legged at the end of the table, jocular but contemptuous, making constant references to colleagues who had developed similar patterns of attendance. I was told several guilty glances were exchanged over the table.
The atmosphere of debate was tense but careful in accusation. At a later equivalent meeting ,a senior member of staff thumped the table at his accusers and said in true Capone style, "If I go, the rest of you are coming with me." He was not referring to an excursion.
The charges and counter claims of intermittent attendance had been going for exactly a quarter of an hour when a shrill electronic chirrupping sounded from his right thigh. He smiled bravely. He had forgotten that, in making surreptitious recordings of the meeting, strictly forbidden, after 15 minutes the tape had to be taken out of the machine and turned over.
The meeting was suspended if for no other reason than the air of gravitas could not be sustained by the group after his characteristic tactical error. It was re-convened in the afternoon and the accused was not subjected to a full body search.The deliberations of the Disciplinary Committee were duly written out and left a fortnight later in the appropriate staff pigeon hole. Unfortunately the damning verdict was folded but not sealed in an envelope, resulting in the Chairman being successfully sued for defamation.