(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
“Three emails so far, one of which was from the Echo, they want an interview with the professor who expelled a student because of her religion.”
“I haven’t expelled her.”
“That isn’t how they seem to see it.”
“I mean they haven’t received the letter yet, have they?”
“Still waiting for you to sign it.”
“I’ll draft a statement for the Echo but we’ll check with Tom first before we send it.”
“Okay, I’ll put the kettle on.”
I drafted a simple statement of what happened and how the girl had stuck her head above the parapet when I’d asked for any questions. She didn’t lack bottle but she did perhaps lack sense. I mean asking for a bacon sarnie at a bar mitzvah would not be the wisest of actions, telling a professor of biological sciences that she’s wrong about an item of proven science, ain’t too bright either.
Tom eventually emailed me back that my account was okay but to clear it with the press officer. I didn’t know we had one, but then I just work here. I asked Diane if she knew who the press officer was and she gave me chapter and verse. I asked her to ask him to call me.
It struck me as appalling the time that was going to be wasted because of some religious nut and my time isn’t cheap. I eventually spoke to Julian Pears, as he was called and filled him in on the details, he then asked me to send all the stuff including my email to him and he’d deal with the press. I told him that Tom was backing me and he said he understood that, he could see that my approach was reasonable but that it looked as if the girl was looking for confrontation. I suppose she was, either that or martyrdom—either way I’d be happy to oblige—wonder where I can borrow a lion—being eaten by dormice would take too long.
I wasn’t too sure about this Julian fellow but I eventually sent my statement to him. I was then on tenterhooks to see what the Echo did with the truth, which they don’t usually allow to interrupt a good story.
I had an email back from Julian to say he’d spoken with Jackson at the Echo and explained the facts of the matter and Jackson had said it was obviously a storm in teacup but they’d run some sort of story anyway.
Just before I left I surfed the Echo website and saw what the scurrilous Jackson had written.
‘Girl suspended because of her religious convictions. A senior professor at Portsmouth University suspended a female student because they clashed over evolution, which the girl claimed was simply a theory against the infallible word of God.
‘The university say it hadn’t suspended the student just asked her if she was studying the right course, but she said it was said aggressively by the professor, who she says looks down upon her because she’s from Leigh Park council estate and the professor is one of the wealthiest women in England, let alone Portstmouth.
‘Professor Cathy Watts, who is one of the university’s super professors, effectively a dean of the faculties of science, isn’t new to controversy but has she gone too far this time? The Echo is on the case but do let us know what you think about this? Is Darwin just a theory or is evolution proven beyond doubt?’
I called dear Julian and told him I was briefing my lawyers and would defend myself against all comers, showing little mercy for my enemies. He swallowed audibly on being told this and asked me to hang on until he could see what he could do. I told him I was calling Jason as soon as I put the phone down to him.
Jason sounded upbeat simply asking what sort of damages I’d settle for. I told him I was only seeking apologies. He thought that was being too soft and that he’d always fancied playing with ecclesiastical law. I pointed out that the JWs were a sect not an established church.
“So d’you want to bankrupt them or just the Echo?”
“That wouldn’t be very Christian, would it?” I replied and he nearly collapsed laughing at the other end of the phone.
As we were talking Diane tapped on my door, “According to security, there’s a mob outside the car park calling for your resignation.”
I told Jason and he simply told me to stay calm and not run any of them over. I hadn’t thought of that, running them over and it was so tempting, but I had to agree with his advice and bodywork repairs aren’t cheap. The problem was that my car has a named parking spot. According to Diane’s latest intelligence, my car was now covered in egg and flour and it looked as if the protestors were waiting to do the same to me. I told her to call the police.
I called Sister Maria who told me she’d get the girls home by taxi, we’d sort out the cost later. She wished me luck with the infidels as she called them, but then I suspect they think that about the Church of England.
It struck me as how ridiculous this whole thing was. I hadn’t sacked the student neither had I backed down against her ill informed accusations. I wasn’t going to back down against the whole of her bloody sect either. If they want to pursue such nonsense in their Kingdom Halls or their own homes, that’s fine with me, but if they call my science in to dispute without any evidence except some ancient book which is mostly myth and Jewish folk history and not a scientific text, then they are personally criticising me which is bordering upon defamation as well as being suicidal.
“’S getting worse, they’re on facebook wanting to crowd source a defence in court should you try to sue them,” said Diane from the door of my office. “That means they’ll have every JW throwing money in the bucket.”
“How many are there?”
“God knows,” she said and we both laughed with much more hilarity than was deserved.
“Why d’you think they’ve chosen to try and bring me down?”
“Because you support Professor Dawkins?”
“Well of course I would, we’re both biologists. This is basic biology, evolution is a proven scientific fact, genetics show it beyond any shadow of a doubt.”
“That should mean you win then?”
“Except the Echo is opting for trial by tabloid.”
“Hmm, I suppose it is—scurrilous rag—it is.”
“I’m not going to disagree, Diane.”
“Police are here.” She opened my door and two police constables strolled in.
“We’re here to investigate reports of a vandalised car—property of Professor Watts.”
“That’s me, do come in—any tea available, Diane?”
“Just a bloody slave,” she muttered and the two coppers smirked.
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