Career planning for the frivolous.

The finishing line of my DPhil is apparently in sight. I’ve rewritten and deleted this paragraph a lot, obviously, but the gist is that I have to send my Faculty a schedule for completion, and my supervisors got quite excited. There is now a schedule. My mouth is quite dry.

Meanwhile, I am obviously researching and angsting over jobs. Again, can’t really talk about that without an oral desert and a twitching superstition gland, but I CAN talk about the other side to job-hunting.

Thus, putting the pro in procrastination, and making public a list I wrote last week:

Jobs at which I secretly believe I would excel:

1. Hostage negotiator.

I could do that.

2. Member of the Kennedy family.
3. Set dresser for theatre or TV, but only if all the sets were people’s student bedrooms.
4. Florist.
5. Royal nanny.
6. Curator and/or founder of a small (it must be small), esoteric museum on any of the following subjects: bookplates, Madge Kendal; Dorothy L Sayers; the Mitford sisters; Shakespeare’s women; the reasons why Jo March should have married Laurie; the now-demolished Surrey Theatre; sundry instances of Liverpudlian true crime; Alfred Douglas’s deranged family; and the less successful partners of famous actors/writers/artists. In no particular order, and somewhat worryingly, these are the subjects on which I know most, and which (crucially) that I think might make the kind of small, weird museum (nothing that would merit a large, lucrative museum is included) run entirely on an individual’s obsession, and which slightly frightens the punters. These are the museums I most love. It is my parents’ fault for accidentally taking me to Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft, as a child. They were thinking Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but there turned out to be pictures of naked Satanists. I wish I’d been more traumatised. Also, when finding a link to check it was actually Boscastle, I discovered, heartstoppingly, that ‘Neopagan Witch Cecil Williamson tried to open a museum to hold his collection of witchcraft and occult artefacts in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1947‘. Guys. We could have had Cecil’s Museum of Witchcraft AND Gyles Brandreth‘s Teddy Bear Museum (you don’t know. You weren’t there) both in my town.

I could hold that (I definitely couldn’t make it).

7. Suffragist.
8. Travelling tutor for children who live/perform in circuses.
9. Parisian.
10. Proprietor of year-round Christmas shop.

There, you see. If academia doesn’t work out, that’s at ten plausible career options…

That was quite a silly post. I am planning more sensible posts, regarding lecturing-from-iPads, Oxford’s new Interdisciplinary Network on Celebrity, and my thoughts on the RSC‘s #RSCWinter13 season (though that’s less a post, more feelings), but now I’m going to edit the draft I’ve been editing since the late Middle Ages, and then see Quartet. Have a lovely weekend.



9 thoughts on “Career planning for the frivolous.

      1. Only if you join the WSPU. I prefer the Women’s Freedom League or East London Federation (oh god I have seriously thought of which suffrage organisation I’d join. This thesis has broken me)


  1. With regards to #10, there is indeed a year round shop here in New York City – The Christmas Cottage, on 7th Avenue between 56th and 57th:) I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts – yes I can…..I enjoy reading your posts! In the midst of pick-ups, drop-off, ballet, helping with homework (yes, there’s no denying it….I’m a mom…..of twins!), your blog is a reminder of the Clamorous voices in my own head and of the first time I read that wonderful book.


    1. Thank you so much! That’s an incredibly sweet comment. I have seen Christmas shops in my hometown and (weirdly) Sorrento, but never in America! I think that’s v cool. How old are your twins, and are they boys or girls? My dad’s a twin (fraternal, not identical).


  2. No. 9 was my career plan too. If you see me shivering and drinking coffee outdoors in Birmingham, in my own head that’s where I am.


    1. I walk round Paris hoping people will think I’m French. It’s happened about twice. I get very over-excited and probably inadvisedly compliant. I’m currently having French lessons mainly to address the appalling way I pronounce my Rs.


  3. I used to have nightmares about Bedknobs and Broomsticks. And Mary Poppins. And the Water Babies. It’s terrifying to be told that AT ANY MOMENT you could find yourself in a cartoon world where a sulky lion will make you play football, or penguins will harass you, or you’ll escape your life of grinding chimney-sweeping only to be taken into the hallucinogenic fantasies of 70s Disney animators.

    Parisian is not a job, Sophie. Unless you mean courtesan. Which I think you don’t (you’d be very bad at it). Are there even any Kennedys left for you to marry? If I were taken hostage I would definitely want you to negotiate for me, though.

    (ALSO will there be a special room in your museum of Why Jo March Should Have Married Laurie for the reasons you know she shouldn’t have. You know the reasons I mean. Those ones. I also look forward to your thoughts on why a promising young writer shouldn’t marry a German academic somewhat older than her. )


    1. I loved Bedknobs and Broomsticks, even if I now can’t listen to “The Age of Not Believing” without tiny whimpers of “Eff you, Angela Lansbury, I prefer it when you do typing to music”.

      Parisian IS a job. It was Nancy Mitford’s job, effectively. I would like that – especially if I could have Tom Courtenay for my ex-husband, instead of the standard-issue silly-named Colonel who won’t marry me. And without the lingering death.

      There’s at least one Kennedy, there’s the one Taylor Swift (STUPIDLY) broke up with FOR HARRY STYLES. She was this close to living the dream. Obviously, getting an academic job is more plausible than the anorexia, orthodontics, music career and emigration necessary to be Sophie Kennedy – although, how good does that sound? Did you know that Kate Middleton got veneers shortly before she and William got engaged? Or that Grace Kelly, who’d slept with virtually all the men ever to share her celluloid, somehow got a doctor to promise Prince R. of M. she was a fertile virgin? No. No you don’t. I could put those facts in my museum. My museum would be like Groundhog Day of the time you said “Ugh you bought Tatler you disgust me” and then devoured it whole.

      (It was very wrong of Jo, as a non-academic, to marry Professor Bhaer the academic, without any intention of being an Excellent Research Assistant throughout, Sheenagh. I’ll make sure I include that on your personalised audio tour of the Damn-You-Amy-March Museum of Literary Ephemera. And yes there will be a small, vaguely wardrobe-like room of Reasons.)


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