Friday, October 15, 2010

Buried Treasure

The headline news this week has been pretty exciting, from the heart-warming tale of the Chilean miners to the bone-chilling dismantling of the higher education system. But if your understandable fascination with the front page news prevented you from noticing two of the more wonderful tidbits of the week tucked away, metaphorically speaking, in a wee column on page eight, then allow me to enlighten you.

The "Bonfire of the Quangoes" might, depending on your perspective, be a crucial staging post in the government's war on public sector waste, or a cynical attempt to appear decisive and bold whilst essentially rebranding the bureaucracy. But read through the list published yesterday and you will find, amongst the grand-sounding bodies engaged in such weighty functions as saving the environment, safeguarding national security, and watching over the NHS, a little-known, but undoubtedly crucial, organisation known as the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines. I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth even as I type this. Surely, even in such straitened times, they cannot seriously be contemplating doing away with such a vital body of public servants? But panic ye not - look again and it turns out that, while such minor bodies such as the Film Council and the Health Protection Agency are to be abolished, the role of the people paid to decide what colour plonk to serve the French ambassador is merely "under departmental review." What a relief.

Tucked away towards the back of Private Eye this week is the funniest branding story of the year. Thames Valley University is due to be rebranded - this month actually - to meet the challenges of the brave new higher education world as The University of West London. Trouble is, neither they nor, presumably, the marketing agency that worked on this, appears to have checked that the name was available. It turns out that Brunel have it trademarked. Whoops. Interestingly, TVU was identified last month by the FT as one of the five UK universities running the biggest funding deficits , something that cannot have been helped by spending fifty grand on a rebrand they can't use.

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