The Merry Bribes of Windsor: A Seasonal Tale for Christmas.

‘Twas a cold winter’s day in December, in a bland House in Old Kingstone Towne. Ye olde King Steven (for it was he) sat back in his shiny new office sofa and pondered what was left of his rapidly diminishing Kingdom. The recent collapse of a large building device nearby had left him shaken and in a quiver. His head also throbbed, not from intellectual endeavor and Strategic Leadership but from a stinking hangover after the latest SLT Xmas knees-up and lavish meal in the Great Lodge in Windsor Park (too much mead and fine wine, with bribes of champers for invited members of ye olde Board of Guv’nors to quaff down, no expenses spared).

King Steven (AKA King Bland) was especially pleased to be rid of ye olde chair of the Board of Guv’nors. He rang for his loyal servant, Sir Greysuit Loanalot, who came running quickly up the stairwell, breathless but pleased at the excuse to leave yet another yawn-making meeting in the ground-floor meeting room at the front of ye olde Holmewood House. He entered King Bland’s first-floor office and sighed. ‘Pray, wos up, good Sir Knight?’, inquired King Blandy. ‘Oh, nothing much, my Lord – just been sitting since 8.00am listening to yet another presentation to ye Academic Governance Board on Plan 2020. The Board lived up to its name – I was bored’.

King Steven’s face suddenly crumpled and turned scarlet red with fury: ‘Sir Greysuit, HOW many times have I told you?? DO NOT refer to it as “Plan 2020” – it reminds all the peasants about the date we set. ALWAYS call it ye “Turnaround Plan”, you incompetent fool’. King Steven continued: ‘Anyway, I am becoming increasingly tired of all these cynical comments and little asides you keep making, Sir Greysuit. I get enough of those from my office staff behind my back. They think I don’t know. I don’t want them you, too. Now, I summoned you here because I want some guidance and wisdom on finance and risk, not stupid comments. Forsooth, I have decided to build a wall.’

Greysuit looked puzzled: ‘Sorry, your Highness. A wall?’

‘Aye, I wanna build a wall, a big wall’.

‘In this house, your Blandness?’

‘Naye, naye, you silver-haired knit. Since we moved here and spent half a million notes on sprucing up the place, I have come to be jolly annoyed by ye olde Gymnasium nearby. The peasants, sorry, “students”, make too much noise. They always seem to be dancing to loud, pumping music. I want you to consult Estates and put together a Business Case Plan to build a wall and also move the gym’.

’But, but, where will the gym go, your Blandness? And have you forgotten the add-on costs and the massive, massive debt we are still in? We spent £19.5m on a new 4-storey building at ye old Kingstone Hill, a huge King’s fortune on the Knight’s Park Extension and refurbishment, the new Old Towne House is three months behind schedule and has swallowed millions, you still want a lavish opening ceremony for it, and we have very few farthings left in the (Metro) Bank’.

King Steven turned angry again: ‘That’s not my fault! I am surrounded by fools. I want to move the gym, get it out of my eyeline and far, far away from my ears. I want it put around the side of the PR campus, on the Sopwith side. Get the Business Plan together. Do it now! Find the dosh. Get the Knights of each Faculty to axe more courses, raise the fees, and make more staff savings. Off with their heads. Who needs staff anyway? All they do is teach endlessly and think too much. Now get on with it. And, as you leave, send in Sir Mac the Knife and Sir Simon Shagalot. I have new tasks for the dopey duo’.

And so the eager-to-please Sir Greysuit scuttled off into the depths of ye olde House and set about planning yet more cost savings, robbing from Peter to pay Paul. And so ended another long year in the epic KU saga, with King Steven wishing all his subjects a Very Merry Christmas but a Crappy New Year.

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