Judgemental glance from dog as leaving. Slam front door jubilantly: ahead of schedule!
Tell self weather is unseasonably mild and congratulate self on layering.
Remember how cold office is. Head home to add extra layer.
Get to office. Take off cardigan. Curse layers. Take off some more layers. Turn on computer.
Go merrily to last seminar of term.
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.
Remark cheerily (in relaxed Cool Lecturer mode) on pyjamas.
Finish apologising to student for thinking her trousers were pyjamas.
Ask group to define “ekphrasis”.
Patiently wait for answer.
Impatiently flounce to computer and switch it on.
Computer warms up. Remind students always to go to online Oxford English Dictionary when looking for definitions. Will never fail them.
Type “ekphrasis” into search box.
No definition for “ekphrasis”. Pyjama Girl’s expression hard to read: somewhere between pity and victory. Hours Until Mulled Wine (HUMW): nine.
Tell group that online OED doesn’t have many words of non-English origin. Type “entrepreneur” as example.
Find OED definition of “entrepreneur”. Make comical George Bush statement about French having no word for entrepreneur.
Tell students to stop writing “French have no word for entrepreneur”.
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’.”
Wait for students to finish crossing out “Flanders and Swann”. HUMW: still nine.
Resign self to Long Day.
Walk down to admin office to see departmental tree’s festive glory.
Find alarmingly listing, despondent conifer on landing.
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.
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.
Smile and take card from student. Begin to open envelope.
Student grabs envelope back and asks me to pass it on to Novelist Colleague who is not in office. HUMW: still five.
Head to chapel on main campus for candlelit carols.
Carols sung by electric light. Have Bad Thoughts about Health and Safety Wonk. HUMW: four.
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.
Return to emails.
Department decamps to local pub for festive quiz.
Am on team with Extrovert Colleague, Poet Colleague, Victorian Colleague and Deputy Head of Department.
Quiz reaches crucial moment. One point in it between my team and rival Team Linguists. My turn to choose topic.
Choose geography. Audible “tut” from Poet Colleague. Look steely and confident. Calmly recall all known about Great Lakes.
Write down all four Great Lakes. Say “May the best team win!” to nearest Linguist Colleague.
Announce am going home. Deny am in huff. Sound huffy.
Persuaded by Poet Colleague to stay. Agree to one more glass of wine.
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.
Giggle as camera zooms in on bowler rubbing ball on thigh.
Husband asks when I’m going to bed.
Get into bed. Turn out lights.