Archive for September 3, 2011

The STFC Card: Place your Bets

Posted in Science Politics with tags , on September 3, 2011 by telescoper

The closing of the transfer window for the football Premiership last week left many disappointed with their team’s failure to bring in new talent for the forthcoming season. Meanwhile, talking of things ending in -FC, rumours are circulating as to why there’s been no announcement yet of the new Chief Executive of the Science & Technology Facilities Council. So I thought I’d liven things up by opening a book on the appointment process. Here is the lowdown on  the leading contenders, together with their respective odds, from our man in Polaris House.

5-4 ON, Fav. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.  The bookies’ favourite. Known to be seeking employment, experienced at running large facilities. Has not been heard of for weeks, so may in fact already have been appointed.

EVENS. Prof. Richard Wade. Current Director of Science Programme at STFC so has good inside knowledge. His gruff northern exterior masks an interior that’s both gruff and northern. Represents continuity with existing management. Er…

13-8. Professor Brian Cocks.  Some bloke off the telly. Popular with the ladies. Born in the Midlands, near Manchester. Currently the only person in the UK who knows anything about either particle physics or astronomy. Will need to stop smiling and get a different haircut, but nevertheless could be worth a punt. Good track record at recording tracks (Groan. Ed).

3-1. George F. Stathew. Enigmatic character thought to be a cosmologist with some sort of connection to Cambridge University. Rarely seen in public so difficult to assess his form. Low profile, together with elusive and uncommunicative nature generally thought to be assets for this position. A bit of a dark horse, this one, but favoured by some smart money in recent months.

7-1. Andy Lawrence. American actor as well as Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (Is this right? Ed). Generally considered to be too young for the job (at 58), but known to be particularly fond of the Swindon area and rumoured to be planning to spend several weeks there in the near future. Definitely an outside chance.

10-1. Saddam Hussein. Similar credentials to the favourite. Experienced at dealing effectively with difficult people. Would be an even stronger contender had he not been executed in 2006, but lack of vital signs not thought to preclude appointment to this position.  A drawback is that he is known to be highly strung. Definitely worth an outside  bet, but may turn out to be a non-runner.
20-1. Steve McClaren. Rumoured to be unsettled at Nottingham Forest, so a move to Swindon Town is definitely possible in the near future (That’s the wrong STFC! Ed). Points in favour include an excellent  range of miserable facial expressions, large repertoire of footballing clichés, and a remarkable track-record in management. (Now you’re just being silly. Ed.) Downsides include his remarkable track-record in management.
33-1. Keith Mason. Current Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and prop forward for Huddersfield Giants Rugby Leage Team (Shurely Shome Mishtake? Ed.) Probably a bit old to be a serious contender for the position but an outside chance that he might stay on for another season. Thought to be keen to complete the job that he started (unfortunately). Better the devil you know? Definitely a wild card but don’t rule him out.

50-1. BAR. Are they open yet? (You’re fired. Ed.)