Tab fails at: Being an English student

No-one has sent me scary emails on Hermes yet, and believe me I would know

English procrastination study

Ever wondered what students of other subjects do with their time? Nope? Well in this exciting new series, you’ll will get that information anyway.

Day 3 in Cambridge, Lent term 2015:

Glasses of wine consumed, 5

Unsuccessful work trips to the UL undergone, 1

Number of minutes spent procrastinating about whether this is the day to go to Sainsbury’s, 10,000

Real-life trips to Sainsbury’s undergone, 0

Current word count on 18th Century dissertation, 33

Current number of words which I will ultimately end up deleting, 33

Wine: check

I  could carry on in the same vein indefinitely, but I should probably stop imitating Helen Fielding now.

Having arrived on Friday a little worse for wear due to the sickening excitement of Christmas, New Year and all their appendages, I agreed to meet my fellow-English-student-friend at the crack of 10am the following morning on the steps of the UL. We had high hopes for the coming day.

We soon found out that the UL would close at 5pm. Oh well, timed power-work (the best type of power-work!) I was going to be a real person.

‘I know I may look like a real person, but I’m not actually a real person.’

I spent the first few hours making a plan for my plan. A proper plan. This involved copying and pasting quotes I had assorted over the holidays into my skeleton plan. Unfortunately, the going was slow: if at any point we wanted a break, or to go to the loo, we had to walk back down from North Wing 3 with our laptops and any valuables and remember to have our student cards ready to zap at the door, as well as enough dexterity to open up our laptops for the lady to check we weren’t furiously smuggling pages out.

The going was slow, but going there was. So far, no procrastination selfies had taken place.

The Scream Edvard Munch (1893)

…Until lunch time. We headed down to the cafe in anticipation of a beautiful UL hot luncheon of health and deliciousness. Our only options turned out to be white bread ‘prawn cocktail’ or ‘bacon and egg’ sandwiches. No matter. We were free. This break was 100% justified.

But that afternoon my going stopped. The flow ended. I had devised my plan of my plan. There was nothing left but to forge on with my introduction, to start filling out a completely blank page. It is at this stage that I always seize up. I have read and enjoyed the books, I have come up with ideas, I have even come up with a plan of a plan. Surely this is enough?

It is not enough.

That is when I wrote the 33 words. On our walk back I looked at my friend and said, “so are we going to do this tomorrow then?”


“Yeah good see you in a few days?”

“Yeah let’s try different environments and see if they are more successful.”

Note: the UL is, and always will be, the best bet. Despite the logistical problems.

The next day I decided it was necessary to watch The Lord of the Rings. This just couldn’t wait any longer. Proceeding that came the inevitable debate over Aragon vs. Legolas vs. actual Orlando Bloom. Clearly Legolas is the way forward and actual Orlando Bloom simply embarrassing. I had to “agree to disagree”.

What is there to debate?

So here I am now, writing for The Tab in my pants and shirt, with 33 words written for my dissertation draft, the deadline for which is “the start of term”. Not to mention my portfolio essays. But it’s ok, because no one has sent me any scary emails on Hermes yet, and believe me I would know.

It’s also also ok because despite my whinging, deep down in the core of my being I know that I am not a Natsci, a Medic or a Lawyer, and that once I get my proverbial “shit together” and stop enclosing everything in speech marks, the excitement of the dissertation will hit me again and I will question why I ever complained and enjoy the proportionally tiny amount of contact time us English students get compared to “the real subjects”.

So while I haven’t quite achieved everything I should have over this holidays, I feel a pleasant buzz in the knowledge of how many exciting things await this Lent: the eventual academic achievements, the amazing supervisions, the very few early mornings and all of the Kuda.

David Mitchell knows.