Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

OK, People, Listen Up! This Is Not a Drill! This Is REFCON Countdown

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

OK, People, Listen Up! This Is Not a Drill! This Is REFCON Countdown

Article excerpt

As time ticks down to the results of the research excellence framework, Emma Rees' sleep-deprived imagination runs riot

Saturday 13 December 2014

Last weekend pre research excellence framework: time of positively halcyon innocence. Take day off. Mark two seminar presentations and answer 13 student emails. Wonder idly what algorithm could possibly have led email spammers to imagine am in market for "sexxxyRu$$ianBrides".

Catch husband saying something about weekend, with puzzling, frankly undue, emphasis on second syllable. Close laptop. Promise Quality Time.

Snuggle on to sofa. Start watching Fellowship of the Ring DVD as prep for what's become seemingly annual festive Tolkien cinema outing. Wake abruptly. Ask husband what Galadriel told Bilbo. "Frodo," says husband. "Frodo." Go to bed, perplexed by apparent hint of impatience in his voice.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Another day off. Review journal essay on legal status of trans women in Australian census returns. Realise how very much known about how very little. Ponder on chosen specialised subject, Mastermind-style. Narrow down choices: "Tottenham Hotspur: the Nicholson years"; "The vaginal art of Judy Chicago"; "Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys"; "The Biblical apocrypha". Get up to ask husband for opinion. Recall husband's response to my 2005 draft list for Desert Island Discs. Hurriedly sit back down.

Close laptop. Go to feed cats. March through kitchen shouting: "OK, people! Listen up! This is not a drill! This is REFCON 5!" Equal measures of feline and familial bewilderment and pity. Go to living room. Sit and read quietly while husband watches Two Towers DVD. Ask where Sean Bean's gone. Husband pauses DVD and looks at me. Take book to bed.

Monday 15 December 2014

Early morning text from electrician to say he can't fix upstairs lighting today. Reconcile self to getting dressed quite literally in dark. Fear students believe fairly regular occurrence.

In between seminars, draft festive pleasure-reading list. No better time than Christmas to tackle unread classics. Write down: "Anything by Marcel Proust and Leo Tolstoy." Go home. After dinner am furious with self for having opened all advent calendar doors up to and not excluding 22 December in frenzied moment of hunt-down-chocolate stress at weekend. Take glass of wine to living room; promise to stay awake for entirety of Return of the King. Husband's expression suggests that "But where did the ring go?" question is misjudged. To bed, to muse on REFCON 4 (situation: not yet critical). Read same paragraph four times before turning off light. …

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