Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Day in the Life ...

... of a Marxist PhD student.

* Got to university at about nine, climbed the three flights of stairs and settled down at my comp.

* Sent emails to Stoke Socialist Party comrades with the weekly reminder for the branch meeting tomorrow. The topic? The BNP - who they are, what they represent, and how to fight them.

* Had a couple of university admin types drop by who are supervising our removal from this cold hole of an office and our dispersal to the four winds. Turns out I'm not going where I was led to believe and, I was snootily informed, my boxes of stuff have "no place" in the hot-desking continuation office I'm ending up in. But then one of the guys piped up and said he'd be happy to get the porters lug my boxes over from where I can slowly remove my crap back home.

* Met with Keele's finest bolshevik, Brother S, for a cup of tea. He went for the peppermint option and I experimented (somewhat unwisely) with ginger tea, and both of us were scandalised by the 19 pence price hike.

* Both of us paid a visit to a fellow UCU branch committee member to sign a retirement card and find out how the land lies teaching-wise. Doesn't appear to be much going for those who have to depend on part time teaching.

* Had lunch (home made bread with quorn slices and a banana, in case you were wondering) while checking out those blogs who've been updating more regularly than I. Added the new blogs Excuse Me While I Step Outside, Pink Scare and Tendance Coatsey to the blog roll.

* Fired off more emails about job applications and next week's Socialist Students stalls.

* The porters turned up to move my office mate's boxes, and I was told they wouldn't be able to move my stuff after all - an immortal up on high had decreed it. Swore a bit.

* Determined the day wouldn't be a total waste regards my PhD, I read a paper about the (unintended) biographical consequences of social movement participation. It was a bit pointless - existing literature suggests that activists, whether "core" cadre groups or those who more casually dipped into it tended to marry later, less likely have children, more likely to define themselves as leftist and retain some degree of "non-conventional" political participation. These results were gathered at least eight years after the mobilisations that piqued the researchers' interests. Problem was the narrow range of the sample, i.e. all were involved in US New Left movements and from a similar birth cohort. The problem then can their different lifestyles be ascribed to their activism, or the rapid social and cultural change of the 60s? In the absence of research into right wing movements and/or more contemporary mobilisations, the question at the time of the paper's writing (2004) was unanswered.

* Returned a pile of library books and met up with one of my now ex-office mates in her plush room. Nice new computers, looks quite cosy too. But not enough room to swing a cat.

* Boarded the bus to Hanley to meet up with A for party-related activities. We went contact visiting. Unfortunately only one of the four was in but we had quite a jolly chat. And we managed to recruit a new Stoke comrade yesterday :)

* A dropped me off in Hanley - the supermarket beckoned as C didn't fancy cooking this evening. Luckily there were two six packs of potato croquettes going for 75 pence apiece, so bargain! I unwisely awarded myself with a kitkat crunchy and wandered home.

* Sat down and had my tea (a vegetable chilli and rice) in front of Channel Four news. Then lazily began watching half of an old Voyager episode about some rogue torpedo or something.

* Dragged myself upstairs to phone the very healthy contact list we've built up. Had some very, very encouraging responses. Spoke to one bloke who was a teacher keen to encourage a bit of political awareness/engagement among his kids. He said he had one lad the other year who supported the BNP because they stood for "giving white people £40,000/year and kicking out all the foreigners". Indeed.

* Came back down, started writing this, and then realised the cat has left me a nice, brown present in his litter tray. Better stop this and sort it out.


White Trash Academic said...

Would you believe that I am envious?

I have had to endure years of being called a "socialist" (not a complement here, I can assure you) and now the U.S. is bailing out our crumbling financial institutions (and taking control) due to their greed and the deregulation policies put forth by our own Republican party.

And, all of this is happening during 40 days before the election. All of this nonsense is turning me into a misanthrope.

Peter M. said...

Is that the Voyager episode about the self-aware doomsday device?

ModernityBlog said...


I thought that quorn stuff was a GM product? not sure, but you'll be ok, probably won't kill for at least 40+ years :)

Culture Vulture said...

You are SO funny.

Phil said...

Met with Keele's finest bolshevik, Brother S, for a cup of tea. He went for the peppermint option and I experimented (somewhat unwisely) with ginger tea

You do know that "All proper tea is theft" was a joke?

Merseymike said...

Hi Phil

I think that it is something of a problem that the UCU's stance tends to militate against those of us who want to work part time rather than full time. So often, vacancies are only filled when enough money has been scraped up to fund a full time post.

It is very frustrating.