In conversation with… Michael Arthur

It’s Thursday afternoon and fresher Daniel Jones is on route to meeting UCL’s provost Michael Arthur for what could be a ground-breaking interview. Thanks to a promotion within the Cheese Grater hierarchy, the position as Wholesome News Correspondent has recently become vacant. Chances like this don’t come around often, and those with ambitions need to take such chances with both hands. So, with his cock in one hand and a reusable Students Union UCL coffee cup in the other, Daniel scurried through the cloisters like the squirrel of a man he is.

The aroma of roast pheasant exudes from the provost’s office because it is a Thursday and, having done his background research, Daniel knows the provost always has roast pheasant for lunch on a Thursday. Daniel also knows to visit at 2:15pm since this is when the two lions guarding the office go for their toilet break, allowing Daniel to enter unintimidated. Because let’s be honest, who would win, two lions or a squirrel?*

Daniel: “Knock. Knock.”
Michael Arthur: “Who’s there?”
“Cows go”
“Cows go who”
“No, cows go moooo.”
“I thought your magazine wrote humour articles.”

Looks like Mr Arthur won’t be playing ball with the jokes this time around. Daniel takes the snub in his stride as he strides over to the guest armchair in Arthur’s office. He is surprised to find himself noticeably closer to the ground than the eminent provost, but once again decides to take it on the chin as he opens his mouth for the first hard-hitting question, his LAMY™ fountain pen poised.

“So here’s a banger to start with. How do you propose to manage growing student numbers given the existing strains on UCL services?”

“Look, Daniel. It’s all in the business. As long as this institution keeps me minted and my lions fed then I don’t give a fuck.”


‘Provost like mints,’ Daniel attentively scribbles in his Moleskine™ notepad.

“Rightio Mikey, here’s the ne-
“Don’t call me Mikey.”
“How will UCL raise graduate job prospects in an increasingly competitive market place?”

“Alright look, kiddo. It’s all in the bloody business. If Daddy’s not got a foot in the corporate door then you’re screwed anyway. People say the world’s your oyster but the closest this generation are getting to one is the TfL travelcard.”

‘Provost likes oysters?’ ‘Daddy kink?’ Daniel leaves a question mark in his notes this time; there is just something in Mr Arthur’s tone that doesn’t sit right with the intrepid reporter.

“Ok so final round. Fingers on buzzers. Where do you see UCL in ten years’ time?”

This is it. The two lions will soon return from their toilet break and this squirrel has all the acorns he needs. The provost likes mints… and he might like oysters. This is exactly the kind of story those at the top of the Cheese Grater tree have been waiting for. But for Daniel, it’s just another day at the office.

* Contrary to the Old Testament where Daniel survives the lions’ den, it is highly unlikely that this Daniel (or indeed any other person today) would win against a single lion, never mind the Provost’s two lions.

Your least wholesome correspondent
Featured image credit: © Elaine Perks 2013

This article appeared in CG Issue 63.