Thursday, 15 August 2013

RCUK Scrabble

It's holiday season, even for the good folks at Death Star Avenue. Now read on.

A holiday cottage on the west coast of Wales. Rain is lashing against the windows, and the casements are rattling. It's August. A group of RCUK apparatchiks are huddled around a game of Scrabble. It's clear they're playing an unusual variant of this family favourite in which only acronyms can be used.

There's intense, concentrated silence for some time.

Marjorie (from the EPSRC) puts down a three letter acronym. 

Kevin (from the ESRC): Hey! That's not an acronym!
Marjorie:  DTG? Yes it is. It stands for Doctoral Training Grant.
Emile (from the AHRC), smirking: Ah, no. What you're thinking of is a Block Grant Partnership - a BGP.
Kevin: No! That's a DTC: a Doctoral Training Centre.
Marjoire: You arty farty types! It's actually a Centre for Doctoral Training, a CDT. And anyway, that's a completely different thing. A DTG is an award given out based on the amount of grant income a university gets.
Ferdinand (from the STFC): I think you're all wrong. It's not an acronym at all. It's a 'Quota'.
Emanuele (from the NERC): Guys, guys! Listen, we can't carry on if we can't agree on the right acronyms. We may as well just give up Scrabble!

Stunned silence.

Kevin: Okay, well that just doesn't bear thinking about. If we don't have Acronym Scrabble, what will we do on holiday?

Everyone stares out the window at the rain which, if anything, seems to have got heavier.

Marjorie: I've got an idea. Why don't we compromise, and agree a set of common acronyms? (Points at Scrabble board) And look, it might just work in our favour.
Emile (suspiciously): What do you mean?
Marjorie: Well, see here? If I put down 'DTP' rather than 'DTG' I get an extra point. P is worth 3, G is worth 2.
Kevin: Hmm, that's good...
Marjorie: And Emanuele, it's your go next. If we decide to use 'CDT' rather than 'DTC', you can attach it to my DTP, and hit the Triple Word Score!
Emanuele: Eccellente!
Marjorie: And Ferdinand, whilst 'Q' is a high scoring letter, 'Quota' isn't actually an acronym, so would be ineligible for this game. If you replace it with 'DTP' then you get a chance to score!
Ferdinand: Stellar!
Kevin: Perfect! That means our holidays are saved. But how do we sell it to the sector?
Marjorie: Oh, don't worry about that. We'll issue some kind of blandly worded statement about 'working together', 'sharing best practice', 'evolving our mechanisms' and so forth. Plus if we do it quickly most people will be away anyway, so no one will notice.
All: Hurrah!
Marjorie: Now that's sorted, who's turn is it to make tea?

Everyone quickly looks down and pretends to rearrange their tiles.

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