Ode to Tweed

23 Feb

Since September the PhD room has keenly felt the loss of that silent bastion of manliness that was Graham. Graham has moved on to a better place now, not heaven, just an office that is not dominated by female PhD students. We remember him fondly, his Christmas Madeira drinking, the panicked look in his eyes when girls cried, the look of tiredness when Rachel mocked his graphs, his continued shock that we all knew he was a mason… the list is endless.


Graham is very close to submitting now he is no longer distracted by the PhD room, in preparation for this glory he has bought himself a tweed suit for his viva, a wise move. We all know it is the outfit that people judge not the quality of the thesis. Or certainly that is what I am banking on. As a special gift to Graham and as a token of how much I miss him I have conceived of this blog to guide him through the world of dressing in tweed. I love a bit of tweed me, I have a jacked and a skirt, they are both aces. I wore the jacked in Lanzarote with a bikini, it was a rocking look I plan to repeat if I get a to go a conference in Portugal in the Autumn. The look should distract from the paper I will hopefully be giving.


So to begin… in honour of Graham’s love of history I start with a bit of background info:

Tweed, in Scottish Gaelic, was called an clò mòr, or “the big cloth,” and it’s not one pattern but a weave of wool that can assume the form of many patterns. Tweed was one of the earliest forms of camouflage, with the varying colors in any given weave allowing Scottish hunters to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

So there we go, tweed allows one to blend into the background… well not anymore it don’t. The wearer of tweed stands out like a pillar of stylishness, gently balancing geek chique, respectful intelligence and a look of old-man-inspired style. Mmmmm tweedy. My favourite wearer of tweed is one who I am sure Graham is not aware of CHUCK BASS. For followers of Gossip Girl Chuck Bass is an icon of style, he ooozes sex appeal and smoulders sophistication.  Here he is rocking some tweed (look at the blues setting each other off there), and then there is a lovely picture of him in a jumper I feel would set of a tweed look, although there is a risk of looking a bit like a golfer if one is not careful.[Plus look at the cut of his jib] Beware Graham, I don’t think you should wear a golfer jumper to the viva.

Mmmmmm Bass.


Now our next picture is of a man effortlessly combining double tweed and corduroy waistcoat. It is beautiful, look at that simple sophistication outlined by the presence of a rotting boat. Excellent stuff. But look more carefully at this man… look at that wild beard, this is not the look for a respected historian of populations, it is inappropriate for a man of graphs. No this is the look for an archaeologist. I am certain this man has muddy shoes, and there will be freying holes in the tweed fo sho. Steer clear Graham, you are not ready for archaeology, and archaeology is not yet ready for you.

But what about this dapper chap, the triple tweed, the buttoned up shirt with a hipster check and the slightly skinny tie. Also note the square fold in the hankerchief: unusual, stylish. The tweeds work well, the bright blue allows them to be balanced back out again. It has a total hipster edge though with that shirt. If you are looking to impress a younger female viva examiner this could be the look for you Graham….

Time wasted from PhD: Hours, hours looking at pictures of Chuck Bass, pictures of tweed and dreaming up outfits of tweed…


Things I Might Rather Have Been Doing

23 Feb

TetrisWhilst I have slaved over nonlinear concepts of time and history in recent days other people have been paid to play an unending game of tetris with big blocks outside our office. These blocks move far slower than actual tetris blocks, but the game looks as much fun.

Mr. Happy Man

17 Feb

A very uplifting video!

Temperature control versus Hapless Hipsters

13 Feb

Sometimes it is hard to be cool.


Really hard if you are a PhD student. In between supervisions, chapters, readings, existential crises, feeling constantly guilty about not doing enough work and having no money it can be hard to find the time to be cool. I remember fickle days way-back-when I did not care about looking cool, I used to wear addidas popper trousers and a bright orange nike jumper. These times have thankfully passed. My Dad banned all these clothes and made me buy a pair of jeans.


As the years have worn on my looks have changed several times, I was a hippy for a while, I concentrated on not looking public school for several years when I went to that funny university down south, and about three years ago I discovered a passion for lycra and a return to my Indie Kid roots. I arrived to start my PhD lycra clad, allergic to trousers and looking like ‘all the colours exploded at once’. For an unknown reason my love of cool colours, like mustard, and my apparently ‘hipster’ nature have led me to a position of falsely gained hipster fashion blogging power. It is from this mighty throne that I write to you today about a recent fashion travesty I witnessed.


Now those that live with me, or have lived with me, can tell you I like to rock a pajama, oversized jumper and greasy hair look for sometimes days on end when I don’t leave the house, indeed once I was told I looked like a 90s cancer patient when I added a bandanna to this clothes combo. But the point is that I don’t leave the house in these clothes. Sometimes though it is necessary to travel places, in cold weather late at night and it becomes pressing that one considers temperature control. In just such a situation I recently witnessed a PhD student combine a long grey overcoat, like that of a Russian spy, with a knitted hat, a uni scarf and an oversized collar from a knitted jumper. This combination alone might have been pass-able just, as one of those, ‘it is late, i am tired, i am cold’ outifts, but then crime of crimes…. UGG BOOTS (the ultimate fashion mistake) were added to this outfit.

Never wear ugg boots

The message of this overly long and rambling post is thus: UGG BOOTS ARE ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, A MISTAKE. No matter what the weather.


Time wasted from PhD: 20mins.

Library Top Trumps: Sackler eddition

13 Jan

Library Name: Sackler Library, Oxford University

Number of Books: All of the books, if you’re an Archaeologist. All of the books.

Loans Policy: I think not unless you’re an Oxford student, but I’m too intimidated to ask.

Library was designed with the following in mind: Competitive studying and posturing with obscure tomes for 12-14 hrs a day. Designed as a space in which it’s possible to forget time and retreat either to calm contemplation or to abject terror depending on your mental state. An Oubliette.

Food and Drink Policy: Are you kidding?

Silence Policy: I am deeply self-conscious of how loud my mouse is when I click. I have rubber soled shoes specifically so people don’t look up when I walk by.

Enforcement of rules: Peer enforced to a high degree.

Catalogue: Online at SOLO

Plague of the library: The sense that no matter how much you study while you’re here, it will never quite be adequate. There is also too little light.

Funny anecdote from the library: When browsing amongst the rolling shelves, I forgot to put the brakes on. The shelves began to close in, I began to walk faster. As they picked up speed, I broke in to a run, thinking I could grab the book and escape before the book-clad megaliths met with an almighty clang that would have seen me banished to the basement until everyone on the first floor forgot who I was. I dived out from between the shelves and sprinted, in silence, back round to where the brakes are to avoid the hideous sound/ bookalanche / social death that was coming my way. I hit the brakes with a fraction of a second to spare and stood there, slightly out of breath and feeling totally foolish. I don’t think anyone saw….

Overall Score: 8/10 (it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as other libraries in Oxford)

Library Top Trumps –

12 Jan

Rachel: I would like to compile a fun game for bored PhDs everywhere.

Funding Body: Please try again when there is no longer a recession, and I doubt your chances even then.

Rachel: But it is a fun game that also acts as a source of research guidance. You know the kind of thing, teaches PhD students to be better PhD students, might help with that PhD report thing that was written all those years ago that says that we can’t do ‘owt other than research our own niche subjects.

Funding Body: Oh, it will be like HASS?!

Rachel: Yes because HASS is a ‘fun game’ (that is why I got an exemption, I hate fun).


And on the 6th day Library Top Trumps was born. When you go visit a new library then take out a new blog post and complete the top trumps card below and soon we shall have ourselves a rather dull game that tells you which libraries to visit and which to avoid. A game that finally ‘proves’ Newcastle Library should stop winning awards. I will kick us off with two cards to begin with…


Library Name: Armstrong ‘Library’, Newcastle Uni

Number of Books: Around about 5

Loans Policy: Not enough books to loan you anything

Library was designed with the following in mind: Group ‘learning’ whilst watching eastenders on a computer and drinking coffee

Food and Drink Policy: Drinks only – at least people aren’t loudly crunching crisps.

Silence Policy: None.

Enforcement of rules: Negligible.

Catalogue: Designed to stop you realising they have no books

Plague of the library: Rah lads and lasses with too much hair, nattering constantly about last night at various clubs and smelling of vomit.

Funny anecdote from the library: Once I got so angry in the Robinson that I ate the head off an undergrad

Overall Score: 1/10



Library Name: Manx National Heritage Archive and National Library

Number of Books: They are all hidden, could be any number from 1 to 1million

Loans Policy: You cannot take anything out and photocopying is 50p a sheet.

Library was designed with the following in mind: It was once a corridor that they turned into a reading room with no thought that electricity or internet would ever be required by a researcher

Food and Drink Policy: None at all, ever. No pens either.

Silence Policy: The youth that use it are silent, the hearing impaired trying to trace their families before they die seem unaware of this policy, meaning that you will know all about Doris’ second aunt Mildred who once ran a B&B in Douglas

Enforcement of rules: Middling

Catalogue: Only a librarian may search the catalogue, you play a constant game of librarian roulette to see if they can find what you want or whether they merely tell you what you want is ‘not publicly available’

Plague of the library: Family history tracing folk

Funny anecdote from the library: Where to begin, there are so many. One day a film was made in there whilst people continued to read. Sometimes they claim to be too busy (doing what) to get you any books. An old man in a three piece suit once walked 20m across the library to tell me ‘you lady the label on your skirt is showing’

Overall Score: 5/10


Manx Comedy

4 Jan

I whole heartedly recommend wasting 36mins on this for some hilarious Manx jokes. Subjects covered include our propensity for mischief, the fact that there is always a boat in the morning, the Manx language, our dubious banking activities, Gef the mongoose, the TT races, how buses work on the Isle of Man and how were are going to take over space… It will also serve to assist most of you in the forthcoming PGF pub quiz.



Time you should all waste from your PhD on this: 36mins.