"Since Rafferty is now running Scotland, things should be all right," Sir William said. Mention of "MacMandelson", the First Minister's right-hand man, drew only a tight grin from Education Minister Sam Galbraith.
But can Rafferty, or anyone else in high places, lean on Historic Scotland? The merger deal is predicated on the sale of the St Andrew's campus at Bearsden, but the halls of residence there have been given grade A listing, despite the fact that many people think them hideous.
A sell-off is now difficult and even Saga Holidays has turned its back on the residences, which once attracted such roisterers as card-playing matrons from Brighton and Eastbourne. Alas, the stairways have been declared too hazardous.
Bart McGettrick, dean of the faculty and former St Andrew's principal, said all that could be done was. "We held barbecues very close to the buildings."