Laurie Taylor

October 5, 2001

The current lack of postgraduates may mean serious academic staff shortages in the future, THES September 28.

Well, that seems a natural point to stop. Would Judith Longworth please stay behind. Yes, Judith. Do sit down again.

Thank you, Professor Lapping.

I'd like to have a word with you about a very important matter. You are the brightest student in our present third year. Your tutorial reports speak of you as "exceptionally talented and industrious", "creative and imaginative" and "strangely exciting". Praise indeed. Judith, have you any idea what such comments mean?

I'm trying my best to imagine.

They mean, Judith, that one day you could be me.

In what precise sense?

One day you could be sitting in this very chair, Judith. An academic future beckons.

It does?

Oh yes. Pick up your first-class degree and then it's straight ahead for three years' postgraduate work, a doctorate, and then perhaps a research fellowship for three years during which you produce a book and six or seven articles and suddenly you're in line for an appointment as a junior lecturer. And from there the sky's the limit. Three more books, a dozen more articles, and you're a senior lecturer. But the ultimate awaits. A few more books and a few more articles and a couple of fat research grants and, hey presto, it's Professor Judith Longworth, £38,000 a year and full pension rights. Tempting, eh? What do you say?

Very tempting. But I think that I may reluctantly give up all those benefits and pursue my present part-time vocation. It lacks some of the prestige associated with academic life and has modest long-term prospects, but it does involve rather shorter periods of concentrated work as well somewhat better remuneration.

What are you saying, Judith?

I think I'm saying, that while I appreciate the confidence you have in me, all in all, taking everything into account, I think I'll stick to my lap dancing. Shall I close the door on the way out?

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