Dissertation draft literature review disappoints (Rousse)

I had promised my new PhD student that there was nothing to fear at the review meeting – but this was before I realised that she was under the impression that it was appropriate to submit a chapter of creative writing at this stage of her study. The reviewers expected a draft PhD thesis literature review.

The chair of the meeting, who also happened to be Head of School, made no attempt to hide her anger. She was absolutely furious.

Later, I felt obliged to give fail grades to a bunch of final year students who thought that scribbled lists on a whiteboard would pass muster as concept maps.

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Killer Brillo pads (Belle)

A student was showing me his paper-based Breakfast Survey which he was distributing to commuters at Brockley station. I challenged him, angrily:

“So basically you’re simply asking people at which of the expensive cafes near the station they bought their breakfast? What about normal people like me who make their own breakfast before they go to the station? And can you explain please why ‘swede’ is down as a breakfast food option?”

The Daily Telegraph featured an interactive story that combined picturesque villages covered in bunting with steam trains and had a headline along the lines of “How Great is Great Britain? It’s the Greatest!”.

A colleague was holding a noisy speakerphone interview in the common room. “Now, Andrew, oven cleaning pads kill over 20% of the population of Honduras. Can you tell us more about this story please?”  We were going to turn this interview into a podcast.

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Umbrellas for pit bulls, HRT for boyfriends (Belle)

I was in New York in a downpour. A man on stilts wearing a bright red commissionaire’s uniform was holding an umbrella over a gentleman’s pit bull as they crossed the road. As they got closer to me, I saw the commissionaire wasn’t on stilts but was actually standing on the shoulders of another similarly uniformed commissionaire.

In New York I was living in an apartment that doubled as a restaurant and I kept cooking their leftover steaks and moaning about how they tasted ‘American’.

A friend’s ex husband wanted me to tell all the other men (my flatmate’s boyfriends) to leave the apartment and I made it very clear I would do no such thing and eventually told him to leave, using mainly swear words.

I suddenly remembered that one of my flatmates (JW) had been in the army. Now she was an artist. Her paintings of cliched gypsy caravans made me cringe but apparently made her a lot of money.

Then my ex-boyfriend turned up and started swallowing hormone replacement tablets.

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Posing in a posh car in Cardiff (Rousse)

Wealthy TV producer RJ invited me and a couple of others for a ride round town in his enormous car.

The vehicle was a huge black and chrome gas guzzler with room for at least nine passengers. As guest of honour I was invited to sit up front with our host.

Heads turned as we sped round Cardiff with Bruce Springsteen blasting out of the speakers.

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Film crew at the farm (Rousse)

My cousins’ farm was looking splendid. It was more spacious than ever, beautifully decorated, clean, tidy, and filled with friends. I was particularly impressed that B and J managed all the house work on their own.

I wondered, however, at the expense of entertaining the steady stream of visitors, some of whom were merely passing acquaintances of their hosts.

Then I spotted the film crew. Everything that I saw was story-boarded by a production team, and funded by a major television network. My cousins had sold their souls to so-called ‘reality’ television.

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Unwanted cutlery (Rousse)

My sister arrived in Edinburgh with a present for me: a box of mismatched cutlery.

“It’s OK”, I whispered to TPR, “We’ll use it this once, then take it to the charity shop”.

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Sex with your friend is better than sex with your sister (Rousse)

I fell head over heels in love with L. She felt the same about me, so we embarked on a passionate affair.

Everyone else was disgusted with us. We argued that it could have been worse – at least we weren’t blood relations.

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