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Wednesday, 20 July 2011


As a successful undergraduate, I have issued this guide which is intended to pass on what I have learned, and help others become as brainy as what I did become.
Throughout remember grammes and punctuality are important, as spell check most of it, even the bits that are copy and pasted. The most important part of essay writing though is that it flows logically and presents a coherent argument.

1. Intro:
This is the bit where lay down what you are going to say in the whole essay. It is usually written five minutes before you hand it in.

WHy has it been so long between blog posts? Well, mostly because things have been going very well and there's no news in happiness. Also, Yorkshire remains anthropologically fascinsating, but is no longer new, although some dialectical concerns will be addressed hereinforthto. And thirdly, I've been building a wall. And fourthly, this entry will finally answer why the questions "Is toadpole a word?" and "Why are flamingos pink?" will never be answered.

2. First coupla paragraqphs:

This bit can be descriptive, a bit, on account of how you might have to describe and expand upon some basi concepts and definitions that you wrote in the intro. This is the easiest part of the essay although its still not fun.

Plans for the PHD have developed and plans are now firmly in place for the work to be done in a Languages department at a major University. Having met my supervisors, I am very excited about the next three years. However, prior to applying to, and being accepted by the Languages Department, I had discussions with a few other University departments in the region about doing a PHD with mixed results. Most, I am happily surprised to report, were very interested in my ideas. But some of the interviews were a bit strange. THe basic idea for the PhD is to study the complex world of adult second language learning. Initially thought the Education departments of three local Universities would be the natural home for my proposed research. "Where?" I thought to myself " Would be better placed to study language learning classes than a local Education department?". However, a typical interview with most of these Education Departments went a bit like this:

Professor: We love your proposal.

Mazzer: Oh Great! When do we start?

Professor: Well, there are a few problems, though............

Mazzer: Oh, yes. I realise that as an undergrauate, I am not fully formed, and that my proposal will be modified somewhat if I am what do I need to do to modify it????

Gets pen and paper, looks up eagerly, ready to make notes....

Professor: Well, as I said, the proposal is great.........M writes 'Proposal great' ......but this thing about languages ? we dont really do languages here....Mazzer writes 'Languages problem - see interdisciplinary- possibly consult languages department where necessary ?' ......and this emphasis on adult learning? well we dont really do that here either .....Mazzer begins to write 'Dont do adult learning?' then stops

Mazzer: I'm sorry to interrupt, but what part of adult learning dont you do? You are an Education department arent you?

Professor: Well, yes, but the whole bit about learning, really, its a bit passe. We dont do that, particulalry not reductionist approaches to finding out how people actually learn. THis stuff about social policy though, we DO love that. And that's what we think the PhD shoud be about...

Mazzer: What the social policy of adult second language learning? That is really just one small part of my proposal.

Professor: Yes, and thats the bit we loved. Apart from the focus on adults and learning. What we like is the politics of social policy generally.

Mazzer: But would'nt that be a politics PhD?

Professor: Exactly !!! You could still refer to adult learning in the footnotes if you like, I suppose.....but essentially, I see this PhD as a critique of Government policy..its very exciting.........

3. The central argument.

This is the bit where you are at your most creative. You assemble an argument, supporting it with evidence. It is important to maintain continuity with the rest of the essay and that it not be disjointed.

As mentioned, not much has happened. I have worked on the house, specifically our garden, have taught a lot of classes, and have done quite a bit of advance research for the PhD. I have also watched a lot of soccer, and played music more than I have done for years. I also have attempted to sign on for 'Job Seekers Allowance' but that situation became so ridiculous that writing about it risks accusations of exagerration.

Firstly the football. I have watched Liverpool's pre-season tour of the Far East with interest. Expect an unedited (from the original) re-posting (for the fourth year running) of the now traditional post 'A faint whiff of optimism'. I am going to the local football stadium on Saturday to watch the Mighty reds play Hull in a pre-season friendly.

Secondly the wall. Those familiar with my plastering exploits will be aware (from 'The Calumny of Plastering') of my complete inability in, but continuing addiction to, the stone based arts. To the left of our small garden, there has been an unattractive wooden fence for many years. I was facd with two problems : firstly I hated said fence with a passion, and secondly I had a largish pile of bricks left from our renovations. THe answer seemed obvious. So I tore the fence down, and with the same amount of experience in building brick walls that various Education departments seem to have in studying adults, I set to building a wall. Eschewing convention on account of impatience, I decided to forego traditional tools for establishing essential ingredients of a wall such as of 'plumb', 'true' and 'straight' and deecided my eye was accurate enough. I soon discovered the error of my ways, and as the wall began to emerge it curved (in the horizontal dimension), wavered (in the vertical dimension) and skewed (across all three, or possibly four dimensions) so the next three weeks were a daily battle of carefully placing bricks to tyr to return it to the straight and narrow, like an enormous game of Jenga. The result is aesthetcally pleasing in that the wall looks as if it is a hundred years old and just about to fall down. I now pretends that the effect is deliberate, based on the organic architecture of Gaudi.

4. Conclusion.

This is where you sum up your arguments, not forgetting to include everything you have previously mentioned.

I have run out of space. One of the ridiculous elements of this summer is that for the first time in years, have a whole summer unoccupied. Yet I fnd myself daily short of time. This is good though. There are things I want to do outside, and very soon I will be immersed in three years of hard study, tied to a desk. One thing I did not mention earlier is that Cheek to Cheek are planning our second 'Ride of Hope', this time through the Welsh borders - from Chester, to Shrewsbury to Bristol. Also, not mentioned is that younger brother, a victm of the recession is in Euroe for three months, travelling with his family and camping. He has been to Frnace, Italy, Croata, Slovena, Hungary, Romania and is heading back through Austra, Germany and France. One of the great things is though, we talk on Skype a coule of times per week. Via con Dios.


Sue said...

Let me know when the Ride of Hope reaches sunny Shropshire and I'll arrange to be out! No seriously, if you need to, you are welcome to use our place as a rest stop or refuelling station, Lil Than & Suzie Woozie xx

MJN said...

Unfortunately, there are rifts racking the band right now. P only wants to go on traffic free routes. I pointed out that this means riding about 5 miles in Shropshire, then getting on a train to somewhere else and riding about 1 mile next to a disused power station in Wolverhampton then getting a train to Derbyshire and doing a three mile stretch of canal. All with 'family' groups of Tw*ts on mountain bikes who've seen two hours of the Tour de France on tv and the couch potato Dad has decided to 'get into 'cycling, so he drags his family to the local bike superstore, gets suckered into buying completely inappropriate, ill-fiiting bikes and drags his family out once a year, all wearing helmets but eating ice cream as they ride, clogging up the disused railway track, with no idea of cycling etiquette, so you are continually crashing into them and they never say "hello" and there's no real road dirt left on their bikes. Then that idiot goes home and tell's his mates in the pub they've 'done' the Pennine Way, while his wife is lying at home in the agony of a torn hamstring brought on by unaccustomed exercise, while his overfed kids are helpng themselves to ice-cream and soda from the fridge as comfort food because Daddy was shouting at them all day to ride faster. And all this is caused by his penilistically-inspired craving for status, and his underused need to be a man (in the eyes of his mates) and do something physical every now and then.

So while I utterly support the Sustrans network of car free pathways, I dont like, very much , parts of those networks. I'd rather go out and play with the big boys.