South Park Self

oh, it all makes work for the working man to do

The ceiling in the foyer outside my campus office randomly fell in the other day. This is both ironic and inevitable, as the building has been rendered hideous for most of this year by the merry crash of scaffolding being erected, the merry crash of scaffolding being dismantled, the thumps and joyous cries of builders chipping plaster off walls, likewise for builders slapping plaster onto walls, the headache-inducing smell of paint fumes, and the intermittent, ground-shaking, skull-invading roar of angle-grinders, jackhammers and other industrial monstrosities one shouldn't encounter outside of Einstürzende Neubauten. Side effects have included gents on scaffolding outside the ladies' loo, gents on scaffolding breaking the windows in the ladies' loo, a sort of involuntary Gothic outbreak in the courtyards where the builders constructed the post-structuralist art installation draped in black roofing material, and a continuous, tenuous, palpable film of dust over the back of my throat.

Now that it's all over, the outside of the building looks wonderful, and I am relieved to note that they have replaced the supports of the Classics balcony. (One of the first things the builders did was to remove the wooden cladding around the base of the metal poles, revealing that they were rusted through to leave about a 2cm pitted central core supporting the edifice. Fortunately balcony and Classics professors are all still present and accounted for. I like the Classics department.) However, all the jarring has clearly mounted a sneak shockwave attack on the structural integrity of the ceilings and floors, and we have the sudden descent of several square metres of plaster just in time for innumerable droves of undergraduates to stand in precisely that spot while we sign their forms to change their course registrations. It all seems somehow Meant. Fated. Because of course it'll happen like that.

On the other hand, enough students have been driving me homicidally insane in the last couple of days that I'd rather relish dropping ceilings on them. The narcissistic bubble occupied by your average post-adolescent would depress me profoundly if I wasn't rather sadistically relishing my awareness of the way it's going to be ruthlessly burst by their experiences of the Big Bad World over the next decade or so. I figure that being snarled at by a wild-eyed advisor figure crouched dragon-like over her desk is probably good practice. My bad temper, let me show you it. It's for your own good.

Other than ceiling collapses, the usual pile of student corpses and a rather high exhaustion level, life is rendered more pleasant than it might otherwise be by the presence of my mother, who is inhabiting the house with her customary unobtrusive cheer. Of course, the ceiling of the guestroom collapsed right on schedule the day before she arrived, owing to the heavy rain and a breakdown of a famous Evil Landlord/Heath Robinson leak collection contraption in the ceiling, and we only rendered the guestroom habitable in time by dint of serious heater action. I'm sensing a theme here. Probably the one from The Amityville Horror.
France / OT
Ahem, to quote from today's London Evening Standard, and apropos a previous conversation thread:

"...earlier this month the French government announced it is to increase taxes on foreign-owned second homes. Tax on rental income will rise from 20 per cent to 35.5 per cent, and capital gains tax on property sales from 19 per cent to 34.5 per cent. Mais oui."

This snippet is part of a two-page spread on property in continental Europe. I assume the figures are accurate, though there is no indication of a time-frame, or even whether the relevant legislation has yet made it through parliament.

This public service announcement brought to you free of charge on the off-chance that you hadn't heard the news...