I seem to be visiting a lot of universities recently. On Monday I went up to the Open University, where I met my MSc. supervisor and my ‘specialist advisor’ — both are a married couple of academics who work on the same area of research. My supervisor is Italian but has obviously lived here a long time so listening to her speech, which I tend to do on a weekly basis, is quite good practice for writing Kim’s dialogue. Strangely I was one of the few students (perhaps the only one) on the Milton Keynes campus because, despite having perhaps millions of students, none of them actually attend the OU itself on a regular basis — it’s all done at a distance (or in summer schools and the like).
Then it was straight down the M1 and A1 to City University on Monday.
Last night I went to the Wheatley campus of Oxford Brookes University. This was to go to an Association of MBAs networking event on creating a cv. Most of the other people there were students on the Brookes Business School MBA, most of them full time. It was quite interesting to chat to some of them afterwards about why they were doing the course — quite a few had enrolled due to redundancy and were looking to do something completely different (a little like James).
While I was there principally for non-writing purposes, it was also good background as the speaker, Corinne Mills, is a careers specialist. According to her consultancy’s website she’s been the careers expert on Chris Evans’ Radio Two show, Nicky Campbell’s Radio Five, on the Six O’ Clock News and in all sorts of print media. Unsurprisingly, she has an human resources background so I got myself re-familiarised with HR speak. I talked afterwards with someone who was MD of a leadership development consultancy (employing 18 people) whose business is to work with these terribly (self) important executives with massive egos — the world from which James has just been removed.
As it turns out, my existing cv seems to tick all the boxes already — probably linked to my ‘excellent written communication skills’ (as it no doubt claims dispensing with any modesty — as it must). Apparently 80% of cvs have spelling mistakes and 13% are seriously flawed in written content or presentation. There were a few classic, true-life errors quoted that passed the spell checker level of proof reading. One could apply to James though I might have to invent something original along the same lines if I wanted to use it in the novel: ‘My hobbies include cooking dogs and interesting people’.