A lecturer’s countdown to Christmas

Emma Rees can’t wait for the holidays to start

December 19, 2013

8.26am
Judgemental glance from dog as leaving. Slam front door jubilantly: ahead of schedule!

8.29am
Tell self weather is unseasonably mild and congratulate self on layering.

8.30am
Remember how cold office is. Head home to add extra layer.

8.37am
Get to office. Take off cardigan. Curse layers. Take off some more layers. Turn on computer.

9am
Go merrily to last seminar of term.

9.01am
Remember last seminar of term follows last student night of term. Try to think of ways to make Spenser’s Faerie Queene fascinating to 14 undergraduates, 11 of whom look decidedly peaky and one of whom is still in pyjamas.

9.03am
Remark cheerily (in relaxed Cool Lecturer mode) on pyjamas.

9.04am
Finish apologising to student for thinking her trousers were pyjamas.

9.05am
Ask group to define “ekphrasis”.

9.06am
Patiently wait for answer.

9.09am
Impatiently flounce to computer and switch it on.

9.12am
Computer warms up. Remind students always to go to online Oxford English Dictionary when looking for definitions. Will never fail them.

9.14am
Type “ekphrasis” into search box.

9.15am
No definition for “ekphrasis”. Pyjama Girl’s expression hard to read: somewhere between pity and victory. Hours Until Mulled Wine (HUMW): nine.

9.16am
Tell group that online OED doesn’t have many words of non-English origin. Type “entrepreneur” as example.

9.17am
Find OED definition of “entrepreneur”. Make comical George Bush statement about French having no word for entrepreneur.

9.18am
Tell students to stop writing “French have no word for entrepreneur”.

9.19am
Type in “zeugma” instead. Find lengthy OED definition. Resist urge to throw computer (and dignity) out of window. Remark with jollity: “It’s all a bit Flanders and Swann!” Odd snorty sound from Pyjama Girl. Undeterred, drolly say: “No need to write down ‘Flanders and Swann’.”

9.21am
Wait for students to finish crossing out “Flanders and Swann”. HUMW: still nine.

9.22am
Resign self to Long Day.

10.35am
Walk down to admin office to see departmental tree’s festive glory.

10.38am
Find alarmingly listing, despondent conifer on landing.

10.40am
Transpires Health and Safety Wonk snipped off plug for festive lights that failed portable appliance testing. Console self that afternoon carol concert will surely instil holiday mood. Go to office to find 28 emails waiting. Sit down to rush through a few replies.

1pm
Office hour. Students in tears: zero. Students wanting to change mind about dissertation topics: two. Students anxious about seminar presentations: three. Students anxious about definition of ekphrasis: four. HUMW: five. Students bearing festive cards: one.

1.14pm
Smile and take card from student. Begin to open envelope.

1.15pm
Student grabs envelope back and asks me to pass it on to Novelist Colleague who is not in office. HUMW: still five.

1.56pm
Head to chapel on main campus for candlelit carols.

1.57pm
Carols sung by electric light. Have Bad Thoughts about Health and Safety Wonk. HUMW: four.

2.18pm
Step in as two colleagues almost come to blows over diction. Extrovert Colleague insists on singing “Good King WencesLAST looked out”. Shake head forlornly at him. HUMW: still four.

3.33pm
Return to emails.

6.20pm
Department decamps to local pub for festive quiz.

6.31pm
Am on team with Extrovert Colleague, Poet Colleague, Victorian Colleague and Deputy Head of Department.

8.11pm
Quiz reaches crucial moment. One point in it between my team and rival Team Linguists. My turn to choose topic.

8.12pm
Choose geography. Audible “tut” from Poet Colleague. Look steely and confident. Calmly recall all known about Great Lakes.

8.13pm
Write down all four Great Lakes. Say “May the best team win!” to nearest Linguist Colleague.

8.23pm
FIVE?

8.25pm
Announce am going home. Deny am in huff. Sound huffy.

8.28pm
Persuaded by Poet Colleague to stay. Agree to one more glass of wine.

2.15am
Get home to find husband and dog watching third Test. Decide to show active interest by sitting with them and asking who’s in. Nod sagely when told. Wonder what else is on.

2.23am
Giggle as camera zooms in on bowler rubbing ball on thigh.

2.24am
Husband asks when I’m going to bed.

2.32am
Get into bed. Turn out lights.

3.48am
Huron!

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

I love the 6-hour gap between "1 more glass of wine" and home. Like the text message that says, "Hi Honey: I'm at the pub and decided to have 1 more pint. If I am not home in 30 minutes, re-read this message".

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together