Post boxWednesday was a long day spent topping and tailing my end of course assignment. This is certainly the most administratively complicated piece of work that I’ve been tasked with during my student career.

The overall assessment consists of

CMA (Computer Marked Assignment)

Five day course in Nottingham (5 marks)

ECA (End of Course Assignment) consisting of:

  • Lab book with hand written index
  • TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment)
  • Poster project, made up of:
    • one photograph of a draft poster
    • one list of comments from a tutor (signed)
    • one final poster consisting of no more than ten A4 sheets, of which:
      •  one should contain the title
      •  one should contain a conclusion
      • one should contain references (which should not include New Scientist or W. (the online reference source that dare not speak its name))

and finally …

  • reflections, without which no OU project is complete

The resulting paperwork had to be divided (correctly) into two envelopes and sent to two different addresses.

Yeah; right.  As if I am going to submit my lab book (complete with authenticating chemical stains) to the tender mercies of the Royal Mail: an organisation dedicated to rebranding itself as a 1950s-style British public service tribute act in which the customer is treated as a member of the undeserving poor.

Open University, Milton Keynes


Thursday morning, therefore, saw me heading off to OU HQ at Milton Keynes. I took the scenic route, courtesy of Tom Tom, which inexplicably took me through Buckingham, which cannot possibly be on the shortest or quickest route to anywhere.

There was a slight panic at reception, as I had not realised that, whilst “Projects and Dissertations” were in the same building, “Assignment Handling” had moved. Silly me.

Fortunately, the receptionist, representing the acceptable face of British customer service, thought that she could probably persuade somebody to make a detour. I left clutching my all important evidence of posting. Give that woman an OBE.

Ignoring Tom Tom, I took the more direct route home, taking time to note that the trees were just beginning to turn and mentally planning all the things that I was going to do with my new found freedom – read books, watch films, visit friends …

… one look at the living room floor served as an unambiguous reality check.

I am going to do the housework. I may be some time.