Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Concentration of Mr Kipling

Alex Hulkes settles down for the winter
There’s something wonderfully autumnal about Alex Hulkes, the Strategic Lead for Insights at the ESRC. He has a comforting fireside tone, somewhere between Mr Kipling and JR Hartley. You can imagine sitting with him as the logs crackle, gazing, entranced, as he strokes his mutton chops, flicks crumbs from his smoking jacket, and talks about his exceedingly good cakes or fly fishing escapades.

His latest report is littered with sublimely arcane phraseology: ‘laudable curiosity,’ ‘one may conclude,’ ‘it is incumbent upon [us],’ ‘let us return briefly to the question posed at the beginning,’ and my favourite: ‘[it] pulls a thread that is weaved discretely into most of the analyses presented thus far.’

Hulkes is a national treasure, and not just for his cakes. He opens up what he himself admits is ‘the black box...of [the] Research Councils’ to reveal ‘the wiring [that] is hidden.’ Like modern cars, most of us are happy that they just work, but Hulkes wants to show you the wonder of the internal combustion engine, and revels in the interlocking genius of the carburettor, distributor, spark plugs and camshaft.

Monday, 13 November 2017

'Chatty Man' to Advise Govt on Science

The Government Office for Science has announced that Professor Alan Carr, former Head of Innuendos and Early Evening Light Entertainment at GlaxoSmithKline, will be taking over as the the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser.

'This is a very exciting time for me,' said Carr. 'My first priority in the role will be to get 'alanatomy' accepted by the UK scientific community as a legitimate research discipline. Which it is, of course. After that I'll move on to less important things like climate change and stuff.'

Any relation to Dr Patrick Vallance, the prime time talk show host, is, of course, entirely coincidental.