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Academic parents - welcome to the Senior Common Room of Requirement

(206 Posts)
BoffinMum Sat 05-Feb-11 15:23:17

Welcome to the Senior Common Room of Requirement. You find yourself in a discreet space with a view over rolling lawns from large period windows, and a roaring log fire, with the College dog asleep in front of it. A number of comfortable Chesterfields and wing-backed armchairs are thoughtfully positioned around antique occasional tables. A selection of reading matter is on the medieval chest near the entrance, including New Statesman, Economist, New Scientist, Nature, Prospect, THES, every conceivable daily paper, Spare Rib and the Socialist Worker. Peters, the College butler (sponsored by a successful alumnus with a top domestic employment agency, so at no cost to the public purse) is on hand to fulfil all necessary demands. This is the place for MNetters of academic leanings, and post docs and student parents are welcome to knock on the door should they require academic or pastoral advice. Sit back, quaff your sherry, Fair Trade coffee or even a smoothie made from fruit grown in the College grounds, and enjoy.

BoffinMum Wed 09-Feb-11 21:13:36


drivingmisscrazy Wed 09-Feb-11 21:26:08

chocs? I love grateful students grin. My PhD student who just finished bought me a big box of shortbread as a gift...which I thought was a bit biscuit. Oh, I'm too witty for my gown.

the CLIT thing - I think that no-one had the courage to speak up until it was almost too late.

Apparently, all our academic gowns are to be re-designed (long story short - we were part of a number of federated colleges under one degree-awarding umbrella, we are now allegedly autonomous). Wouldn't you just have loved to be on that committee? 'Professor x, don't you think that this deep fuschia would be lovely for the engineers?'

BoffinMum Wed 09-Feb-11 22:22:37

OK here's a little gown tale.

A former female VC of Cambridge allegedly was in first class on the Cambridge to London train a few years back, discussing the VC's gown design at Cambridge.

Apparently when she arrived she was told she could not wear the 'real' gown as it was too grand and it upstaged the Chancellor. Therefore a somewhat lesser gown had been designed to get around this little problem.

However she said, "When life is very tough, I take a moment, put on the proper VC gown, and strut around my office a bit in front of the mirror until I feel better."

Woman after my own heart, I think. wink

drivingmisscrazy Wed 09-Feb-11 22:25:30

Boffin, hmmm, int-er-esting <strokes chin contemplatively, hoping there are no bristles there> Had this previously been a problem when the VC was male, or was it only a female VC that was in danger of upstaging the Chancellor?

BoffinMum Wed 09-Feb-11 22:29:37

Maybe one or two of the male VCs liked dressing up in academic drag?? grin

drivingmisscrazy Wed 09-Feb-11 22:33:11

roary Thu 10-Feb-11 13:41:02

Boffin just saw your other thread in Off the Beaten...just wanted to say that if you have had maternity leave in the REF period you are not required to have 4 publications, they have a special 'legitimate career break' category (with a much more bureaucratic name). I have been on mat leave 50% of the REF period and therefore am required to have 2 publications.

BoffinMum Thu 10-Feb-11 14:25:45

3 is still a lot in social science. You only have 3 years to get them into journals, as things can queue for up to 18 months. So if I haven't done them by the end of 2011 I have a problem.

roary Thu 10-Feb-11 14:30:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

irregularegular Thu 10-Feb-11 14:33:16

What/where is Off the Beaten Track?

I have an SCR very much like the one you describe just over the quad. Sadly, I am stuck in my office marking essays.

I could, however, swan around in my gown, but I'm not sure it will help.

wolfhound Thu 10-Feb-11 14:38:44

Can Peters bring me a smoothie (pg so can't have the sherry) and a dash of inspiration, please. Writing PhD thesis (very slowly) here.

witchwithallthetrimmings Thu 10-Feb-11 14:44:00

Peters has just tapped my shoulder to tell me that there is a student waiting outside wanting to knowing whether its his arse or his elbow on his arm. Best go

wolfhound Thu 10-Feb-11 14:49:30

That's probably me, witch. I feel I'm confusing the two quite frequently these days

BoffinMum Thu 10-Feb-11 16:05:23

LOL grin

Got feet up on footstool next to roaring log fire. Peters is giving me a scalp massage. You see, that's the wonderful thing about academe - you are expected to have bad hair so even having it all ruffled by an obliging butler for the purposes of stress relief doesn't make it look any worse.

Here's a lovely quote from Stephen's 'Sketches from Cambridge by a Don' (1865) which usefully reminds us of what we are there for:

"You know the exact point at which he will begin to look stupid; you foresee the look of partial intelligence with which he will received your well-worn explanation, and the stupid remark a little further on which will show that he failed to see the point of it".

So ask the student outside if he's only got one, and see the expression of confusion on his face.


BoffinMum Thu 10-Feb-11 16:08:06

Have to share another Stephen quote with regard to the student population:

"Mankind may be roughly divided here, as elsewhere, into the useful and the ornamental"


I wonder which these people are?


dontrunwithscissors Thu 10-Feb-11 16:17:34

Roll up, roll up, my thread over in Off the Beaten Track is still hanging around like a bad smell (or is that a student?).
iregularregular: it's under 'Other Stuff', and you have to be logged in to see it.

Roary - they haven't yet released the REF guidelines, though (have they?) This is a shorter assessment period than the RAE. I wish they'd hurry up and let us know what the heck is expected of us.

BoffinMum Thu 10-Feb-11 17:41:18

Have posted but don't know what to say, really.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 10-Feb-11 20:40:18

::wanders in from the one child tea room::

Gosh, this looks lovely. And somehow familiar.

::quaffs sherry while stroking chin::

::decides that Peters, although estimable, is less handsome than Mellors, and so leaves::

drivingmisscrazy Thu 10-Feb-11 22:26:58

<flops down in squashy chair> just had a week of ornery little bollixes contesting grades, including one particularly irritating floppy haired type who kept coming up with really quite incredible excuses (he was always late, because he has to come from the other side of the city - where I live and I am never late). Basically a lot of these kids did no work and now are in shock because they got Fs. FFS. FFFFS, even. Eff off, I say.

ps I'm usually pretty nice to them - but I have a brilliant student doing an MA with me - she's profoundly deaf now and has numerous serious health difficulties. Never late, never misses a class or a deadline or an assignment. It makes me a leetle bit less tolerant of wasters, I must say.

BoffinMum Fri 11-Feb-11 14:28:40

Driving, we have exactly the same issues with ours. The more genuine the woe, the less time off they seem to need.

Can you send Peters over? I am in hospital waiting for day case treatment and could do with a virtual sherry to buoy me up while I am waiting.

drivingmisscrazy Fri 11-Feb-11 20:54:41

does anyone else wonder at the stuff that comes out of their mouths? I mean my relentless moaning and groaning about uppity students/falling standards/ how they don't know anything any more (this last is true, btw). I remember doddery old smelly men senior colleagues saying these kind of things when I was a Bright Young Thing and thinking 'I'll never say things like that, and if I do it will be time to leave' hmm. There are many ways in being an academic is a bit like being a parent.

BoffinMum Sat 12-Feb-11 10:15:08

We are not boring old farts yet .... are we???? shock grin

<checks face for smelly beard>

drivingmisscrazy Sat 12-Feb-11 12:03:29

Boffin, erm...the irony is of course, my endless frustration with many of my colleagues (not just the old ones) who seem unable to think differently or innovatively about anything.

Did Peters show up? He's normally very reliable <and the soul of discretion>

BoffinMum Sat 12-Feb-11 16:02:11

Yes, he came with college port, sherry and a selection of fragrant warm, moist towels to mop my brow with.

BoffinMum Sat 12-Feb-11 16:04:30

BTW think yourself lucky it's not 1450. You would have had to have your students sleeping in the same room as you on a trundle bed. Doesn't wear thinking about. shock

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