Nurse Review presented its report yesterday, and a key recommendation was the creation of 'Research UK', which would have overall responsibility for the Research Councils. One way the new structure could be described was 'seven brains, one body,' Sir Paul said.
Now read on.
Scene 1: A laboratory in a castle. A storm is blowing outside. Lightning flashes and lights up a crazy-haired scientist at work, making adjustments to a large, complicated and antiquated piece of machinery. In front of him is a corpse clearly pieced together with rudimentary stitching.
Sir Paul Frankenstein (for it is he): Ah-ha! Finally my dream is about to be realised! They said I couldn't do it but they were wrong! I have created the Single Accounting Officer! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
He pulls a large lever dramatically and electricity crackles from the machine to the corpse. It lurches into life, groans and sits bolt upright.
Single Accounting Officer (for it is he): Oooh, my head...
Frankenstein: Ha! Ha! Ha! It's alive! I have created new life!
SAO: What did I do last night? Don't tell me: did it involve Yate's Wine Lodge and Spearmint Rhino?
Frankenstein: You weren't alive last night! I have created you - from seven other bodies!
SAO: Seven bodies? (looks at his hands, perplexed). Why?
Frankenstein: Because I can! Ha! Ha! Ha! And also to better manage cross-Council research funds, formulate a strong collective strategic position, and ensure an efficient approach to administrative functions.
SAO: But why does my head feel so...bad?
Frankenstein: That would be the seven brains I put in there!
SAO: Seven brains? But it feels like there's an argument raging inside my skull!
Frankenstein: That's to be expected.
SAO: But...but...I can't move my limbs!
Frankenstein (concerned): Hmm, that's a bit odd. (comes forward and taps the creature's leg). Can you feel this?
SAO: Oww! One part of my brain says I can, but the others disagree!
Frankenstein: Try moving your arms.
SAO (struggling): I can't! My brains are disagreeing about who has overall responsibility for the arms. One part is saying they're a medical issue, another that they're within the remit of the biological sciences, and another that any movement of arms exists purely in the social and economic sphere.
Frankenstein: Hmm. I always thought there'd be more agreement than this. (flicks through a well thumbed copy of 'Research Councils Together') It was all meant to work much more seamlessly...
SAO: Doc! What am I supposed to do? I may be more accountable to government and have a strong collective position, but I can't move!
Frankenstein: Okay, don't panic. I see that the 'seven brains, one body' might not be the best way forward...
Scene 2: the same laboratory, some time later. Frankenstein is sweating profusely. In front of him is a row of seven corpses.
Frankenstein: Ha! Ha! Ha! My work is done! I have reversed the equation: one brain, seven bodies! Now LIVE! (he dramatically pulls the large lever, and the electricity crackles across to the bodies. They rise, and immediately start arguing).
Corpse 1: Look, it's my turn with the brain!
Corpse 2: That's not true! You had it the time before last.
Corpse 3: You liar! It's my turn!
Corpse 4: Who has the brain anyway?
Corpse 5: Who are we again?
Corpse 6: I'm not sure, but I have a folk memory of someone saying we were better together...
Frankenstein: Jesus wept. I've changed my mind. Can I do another term as Royal Society President?