Cheered by the news that a Welsh County Council has struck a worthy blow for contemporary sensibilities by banning the name Spotted Dick on its canteen menus, Slightly Mollified jams his beanie cap on and gets out of bed before midday for once to see just how politically correct UCD is in 2009.
MY, BUT IT’S a tough time to be a card-carrying liberal. No sooner did we succeed in getting one of our own back in the White House after a lengthy absence (may His name be praised without reserve); then Saint Ted of Massachusetts went and… well died. Even a seasoned 3rd Year Sociology repeat like me was stunned by how low the forces of Right Wing conspiracy stooped this time. I mean, of all the conservative skulduggery – a malignant brain tumour?
All the same, I was heartened last week to see that at least some out there are still fighting the good fight.
The trail-blazers at Flintshire County Council in Wales have decided to tackle a monumentally offensive historical hangover by banning the term Spotted Dick from their canteen menus. The obnoxious pudding will henceforth be termed Spotted Richard, and proper order too. After recovering from my initial spotty outrage that such a bastion of sexist innuendo could have lingered on in to the 21st century in the first place, I matted my dreadlocks up and went out on to campus to see if we could follow suit.
“Of all the conservative skulduggery – a malignant brain tumour?”
The news wasn’t good. No sooner had I gotten over my surprise that Belfield opens on a Friday when I was confronted by a poster advertising UCD’s Michael Smurfit School of Business. The sheer reactionism of naming an educational facility after a capitalist fat cat was enough in itself to make me choke on my organic muesli, but what really stunned me? The location.
That’s right, in 2009, UCD still insists on maintaining an outpost in an area named Blackrock. Blackrock. The sheer crassness of it all. How this hasn’t yet managed to embroil the University in a controversy of huge proportions is beyond me, but I was determined to act quickly to avert the trouble that could yet ensue.
Marching up to the Student Centre, I wanted to vent my spleen at the Student representatives nestled within. They might be part of the system, and that itself makes them part of the problem, but whether they liked it or not, change was about to batter their Establishment barriers down, By next week, we were going to have a Belfield South campus instead; and I was prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to save future generations from the anachronisms of their predecessors.
UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn is a nice young man, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he himself was doing his bit to struggle against orthodoxy by refusing to wear a suit – or indeed, any form of business-like attire – during working hours. For all that though, he really didn’t seem to comprehend the scale of the problems facing us.
“Did Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council naming conventions perturb the workers that stormed the Bastille in 1968? Did postal districts bother the patriots of Easter Week when they fought the SAS and the B-Specials?”
I jabbed my fingers at him, still calloused from the agricultural work I spent doing in July on a collective farm in Cuba, and demanded to know just what he was going to do to.
Ahearn swallowed nervously. “Belfield South? It’s a different district, isn’t it?”
Not good enough, Scott. Did Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council naming conventions perturb the workers that stormed the Bastille in 1968? Did postal districts bother the patriots of Easter Week when they fought the SAS and the B-Specials? Well actually, I suppose they did – I do remember something about a post office in that First Year Revolutions elective I took (and nearly passed). I asked him just what he’d do if we got the demo to end all demos brewing outside his office door.
“It would go through a complaints procedure with the local County Council, and they’d sit down and explain the situation – why it’s called Blackrock. There’s obviously a history behind the name, but a lot of people might not understand where the term comes from.”
Somewhat placated, I withdraw my threats of imminent People Power and retreated from Ahearn’s lair of bureaucracy. It was only outside, sitting on the steps as I sipped a cup of Venezuelan Fair Trade coffee and sparked a roll-up, that it hit me. The parchment scroll I’d seen framed on the wall of Ahearn’s office. The liar. The utter, sly, fox. He’d been one of them all along.
“Kicking the door open as hard as my sandals would allow me, I screamed it at him”
Pausing only long enough to show my typical disrespect for uniformed authority by glowering at a Pulse Security patrol from behind one of the concourse pillars; I hurried back in to the Student Centre to confront my new nemesis. Kicking the door open as hard as my sandals would allow me, I screamed it at him.
“You’re a History graduate, Ahearn?! A History graduate?! Why not Herstory, eh? No, this ends here. We want it renamed Past Studies, and we want it now.”
He tried to stonewall me.
“It’s an anagram, and changing the words around to make things fit. I don’t regard history as male-dominated; I think there’s been some iconic female politicans and figures. The majority of lecturers [in UCD’s School of History] are female.”
He could talk the talk all right, but I had the measure of this Establishment chimera now. His protests were in vain.
“You’re going to change an iconic word that every human being from the age of five knows?!”
Eventually, a compromise was reached. Ahearn agreed to take my passionate protests on board. I, in turn, took his advice to visit a supermarket at some point and purchase something he took the trouble of writing out for me. Where is it, again? Ah, yes. Lynx.