1) Lean back in your chair. Right back. Your shoulderblades should be almost touching.

2) Raise your arms, elbows bent, hands just above your head.

3) Now start flailing. Mostly from the elbows, but these should be moving in slight circles so that you can get some good flailing in from the shoulders down as well.

4) Drop your head back and open your mouth in a soundless wail.

5) You are now demonstrating, exactly, how the retired dean I was sitting next to at the wedding ended this sentence: "Well, that must have been very..."

What he was describing came in response to something I'd said, which was an answer in itself (and if you're thinking there's something a bit strange about this sentence, bear in mind that I don't have to write my PhD any more and so I'm relearning the basics of 'conversation', as I believe it's called) to him asking me if I'd finished the thesis before teaching started. Wouldn't that have been a good idea? But no, I didn't, so there was an overlap of a few weeks between the start of teaching and the end of my thesis, which isn't even The End because I still have to go through the viva, which is best illustrated by the 'end' of every Mario game where you climb all the way up through the castle and then still have to beat the final boss. And that's not until next year, so I'm not exactly finished, except in the sense of having run out of extra lives, hit-points, energy, motivation and all reserves of strength, because in that sense I'm very much finished.

And his description was exactly right.

So anyway, yes. I'm not done. I'm not 'Doctor'. I'm not passed, not even maybe-passed. But a few weeks ago, I handed a stack of paper bound in plastic over to the kind souls at Registry, and this should count for something. I was going to add some advice here, but there are only three things I have learnt that are of any value to anyone in the last stage of their PhDs:

a) If you need to sleep in your office, and you might well need to sleep in your office, don't curl up in your chair. It is almost impossible to curl up in swivel chairs with no arms, for one thing, and there's nowhere to put your head. I did this and woke up half an hour later with my scalp completely numb from where the plastic on the chair-back had cut off the circulation, and I do not advise this as an experience that will do you any good. Instead, sleep by making a little nest out of swivel-chairs in a corner of your office. You can adjust them to different heights for pillows and arm-rests and so on, and - here's the best bit - when you move, they all move with you. Advanced sleep technology, available for free just ten feet from your desk!

b) Everyone will tell you that finishing your thesis and handing it over to Registry is an anticlimax. Since they've got a point, the best way to counter this effect is to immediately go and get very, very drunk. You can reflect on your life and your academic career later on.

c) If there is any way on this earth you can avoid doing so, don't start teaching on two new courses a few weeks before you need to hand in your thesis.