We are entering a golden age of university democracy. YUSU president Tom Scott is the first pirate to hold legitimate office since Antipope John XXIII in 1410. Furthermore, it is rumoured that Matt Burton is eager to run for a third consecutive term – a coup de grâce that not even Vladimir Putin, let alone George Bush Jr, entertained. Let us drink to the latest set of YUSU committee appointments because, questionable as some of the positions may be, they are hardly a burden on the taxpayer.
Recently, one of the watchwords of union representation has been ‘self-definition’. The semantics of this phrase are fascinating. Apparently, self-definition is a device enabling someone to transcend social and biological definitions like “gender”. So does that make ‘self-definition’ the opposite of ‘definition’? Not exactly. This, as you will no doubt recognise, is a delicate problem.
So let me give you a light-hearted example. I am not a smoker. This is because I am a coward. I shrink from the prospect of a gruesome, sooty death. However, I have decided to self-define as a smoker. Some politically correct people will tell you otherwise, but cigarette smoke actually smells better than most perfumes, and tastes better than most food. It’s also fun: Can you blow rings with “Hugo Boss”? Does poached turbot give you a nicotine buzz?
My fellow smokers and I know that smoking is a labour-saving alternative to eating, as well as an efficacious laxative, and that it provides brief respite from hateful people who try to talk to you at house-parties. Smoking is also really cool. If its cachet could be communicated in a single image, it would be Bogart in a bar nursing a neat Scotch. Non-smoking, on the other hand, is a starchy, middle-aged schoolmistress kicking a Yorkshire terrier into a grain silo.
For all these reasons and more, I self-define as a smoker. I have every confidence, therefore, that Messrs Scott, Burton et al will welcome the opportunity to embrace real democracy, and immediately open nominations for a YUSU Smoking officer.
But why stop there? Looking to the future, I envision the wholesale unionisation of every imaginable social encumbrance. I don’t enjoy the taste of onion in sandwiches and sometimes find it difficult to make small talk with girls. I need representation and guidance in these matters. What are YUSU doing about it? Nothing!