Summary: A walk with my dog gives time for thought and a suggestion. Description: ‘All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey ’, but I’m snug inside a cottage on the East Neuk of Scotland supposedly for a few days away from the daily grind of bureaucracy which passes for academia in UK universities. However now we have installed broadband in the cottage it is very much like being at work albeit without the need to get out of bed at 5am. The tsunami of emails and ridiculous institutional edicts with ludicrous timeframes still continue to arrive and need to be dealt with. But being here reminds me of the time when my eldest daughter was studying Philosophy at St Andrew’s University (just down the road) and from time to time she had free weeks which were meant as reading weeks. I was never certain what exactly she did in these weeks but they seemed to me a really good idea. A time when other things were suspended and you could bury yourself in all those journals and books one meant to read and never get time for. Surely this is what academics are meant to do, not to sit in endless committee meeting discussing things endlessly but never actually getting anything done or even when we do do things, if we had take a moment to look at the literature we would know that they never work. Sitting in these committees always bring to mind a quote attributed to Arthur Balfour UK prime minister 1902-1905:

‘Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all’

What then if every two months we had a ‘reading week’ when we did nothing else but read around our discipline – bliss and potentially live and discipline changing. Maybe at the next committee I attend when back at work I’ll suggest this. Have I any hope of it being accepted – not really. Hence why I bought a dog so at least I have the excuse of leaving my computer to take him for a walk several times a day which is a great way to clear one’s mind and have time to think if not to read. So here’s to Charlie, my naughty, cheeky Jack Russell dog who allows me to reconnect with my dreams on grey days in the East Neuk.