Mark Andrews on Saturday: Phone rip-offs, an angry professor, and a sprouts crisis

Read more from your Saturday columnist Mark Andrews.


Taking a few days off this week, I decided to sort out my landline phone and internet service, which has been costing me £150 a quarter. This didn’t strike me as terribly good value, particularly as my last bill included just a single call, and adverts promise the same thing for £15 a month.

After enduring the ‘press one for this, press two for that’ torture which every faceless bureaucracy inflicts on us these days, I eventually spoke to a human being who subjected me to 10 minutes of Christmas hits while he ‘negotiated a better deal with his manager’. He came back with an offer of £39.99 a month, which still seemed extortionate. After a few dire warnings about the perils of cut-price providers, and another 10 minutes of George Michael, the agent finally managed to beat the price down to £29.99, fixed for two years.

Two things struck me. Firstly, the agent couldn’t have been negotiating that hard as the same offer was advertised on the radio the same afternoon. And secondly, I have just agreed a two-year contract on something that Mr Corbyn promises us for free if he gets in.

One area that really looks to be booming at the moment is hyperbole.

The ‘climate emergency’ has been with us for months now, but then a couple of weeks ago there was some politician talking about Britain’s ‘housing emergency’. What next? Give it a week and they’ll be talking about a ‘Brussels sprouts emergency’.


Something tells me Prof Danny Dorling, a geography lecturer at Oxford University, is not terribly happy in his work.

He describes geography as “the favourite subject of those who create hostile environments for immigrants, political parties that border on the fascist, of war-mongers, bankers and imperialists,” and “a soft option for those not actually that good at maths, or writing, or reading, or science, or imagination".

Not guilty, I studied economics.

Just for good measure, he says on graduation, geography students will head into "banking, advertising and management and make the world an even worse place."

Good to know he rates his students so highly.

The prof would do well to remember that those thick, war-mongering, borderline fascist would-be bankers are paying £9,250 a year for the privilege of listening to his pearls of wisdom. If it were me, I would be asking whether this represented value for money.

Besides, I wonder when Prof Dorling picks up his presumably hefty salary, how is it actually paid? Not into his bank account, obviously, given his distaste for bankers. Maybe he goes to the bursar’s office and collects a wheelbarrow full of cash, but I doubt it. Those notes are issued by the Bank of England, after all.

And while the prof is busy with his high-minded, saving-the-world, ending-the-sprouts emergency kind of stuff, who does the dreary admin work that keeps the college running and Prof Dorling in employment? I hope it’s not those awful management people making the world an even worse place.

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