Letters & Essays
I receive many e-mails. These tend to fall into two categories: the first is those from people who are interested in the possibility of coming to work with us on a long-term or short-term basis.
Regarding this first category. Oxford Forum is based in Cuddesdon, near Wheatley in Oxfordshire. We are aiming to set up an independent university, supported by business enterprises (see Careers). We are not in need of any highly skilled help, except perhaps in DIY and house maintenance, as we could handle any work requiring numeracy, literacy or computer skills ourselves if our time was sufficiently released from administrative chores. In particular, we cannot make use of anyone's computer skills, which we are often offered.
We are in need of temporary workers, whether or not interested in the possibility of a permanent career with us. Pre-university or university people might come for vacation jobs, gap-year jobs, early post-graduate jobs, etc. Academics on sabbatical from overseas universities might consider spending a year with us as a voluntary worker to improve their English in intellectual conversation. Immigrants new to the country might think about spending their first year or years with us, which would enable them to improve their English and acquire a greater awareness of the way things work in this country. Any of these possibilities could lead to a permanency.
We are also very willing to consider forming associations with those in or approaching retirement. People are living longer and pensioners are finding themselves facing increasing reduction in their spending power. Many complain of being forced to continue in work or part-time work. Living near us, and spending relatively few hours in office, domestic, or caretaking and DIY type work, they might find they could live in increasing prosperity rather than the reverse. People in this category are also invited to arrange to do temporary voluntary work with us to become familiar with the situation and its potential advantages.
The second category of e-mails (and letters) is those from people who want to know my views on some topic or other, or want me to comment on their views.
With regard to emails of this kind: I am not in receipt of an academic salary, or indeed of any other kind of renumeration, but am forced to support myself and my institution by my own efforts. If people come to work for us, even in a temporary capacity, they will no doubt find that I talk to them about things of interest to them. However, I will not necessarily be able to reply to emails or letters in this category, particularly from individuals who are themselves in receipt of salaries.
People who wish to make a financial contribution towards our efforts can do so by means of donations. Oxford Forum is an unincorporated assocation, so donations need to be made payable to myself or to one of my colleagues. Buying one or more of our books is also a helpful thing to do, as it helps to keep them in print, and to keep bookshops — and our distributor — well disposed to us.
Please note that we are more likely to reply to emails if a postal address is given (so that we can send a complimentary copy of one of our books).
To people who wish to meet me for the purpose of finding out more about us, I recommend coming to one of my seminars or coffee parties.
To help distinguish your message from spam, please put the title of one of my books in the subject line.
I would appreciate it if people who quote me on their blogs or websites, and particularly those who reproduce whole sections of my books, give links to this website.
Please include a reference to Oxford Forum when giving links to our website, blogs or other pages, as this helps to increase our prominence in Google searches.
A note on reactions to my website
There is a universal lack of sympathy with my explanation of my position, and how I came to be in it. This is described as 'complaining' or even 'whingeing', which I am advised against doing, as it will 'put people off'.
The people who say these things sometimes express 'enthusiasm' for the tiny pieces of work for which I have been able to obtain funding, making the usual assumptions about my motivation and 'interest' in working in such fields, and suggesting that people would be less 'put off' if I made everything sound 'positive'. I.e. if I played in with the interpretation that I have not been, and am not, suffering in the least by being exiled from an academic career and deprived of the salary and status which would have gone with it, and which I have needed, and still need, to have.
None of the people who wish me to believe that it would be in my interests to stop putting people off by expressing myself realistically have helped me by coming to work here or by giving me money, or by encouraging anyone else to do either of those things.
I spent several decades without complaining, so as not to put people off eventually giving me some reward for the work which I was able to produce by great effort in disadvantaged circumstances. Nothing ever came of this, at least nothing positive. There was a considerable amount of gratuitous misinterpretation and obstruction, not to say slander and persecution.
My complaints constitute a serious indictment of the educational and academic systems, and the negative reactions to them reinforce my conviction that I am doing the right thing in making them.