Posted by September Blue Wednesday, 28 May 2008

£42.78 is what it costs to get one copy of your PhD thesis (if it's exactly the same as my PhD thesis) printed on the right kind of paper and bound in the right kind of way. You could buy a lot of things for £42.78, and most of them will flitter before your eyes as you hear the cost, but at least you will have your thesis, bound in black with gold lettering, looking like it's a real book that you really wrote.. For a second, just a second, £42.78 will seem worth it.

And then you'll look again at that spine, with a vegetarian-spotting-chicken-on-the-pizza expression inching its way across your face.

And you'll say, Um.

And there'll be a brief conversation with the book-binding people, who will go and fetch more book-binding people, and there'll be some muttering and some whispering and some "well, when did you claim you sent this e-mail, exactly?", and some (quieter) "oh, that e-mail," and some apologies. Which will not help you very much, because there you are in a city that is not your city, tired, rain-soaked, fed up of your stupid PhD thesis and everything to do with it, and wondering what else you could spend £42.78 on. Now. Today. If you just walked out of here.

And you're also sort of hung over, but it's not exactly hung over, because while you were indeed drinking last night and while your first words this morning were indeed to tell your friend to change out of that bright pink t-shirt right now because there is a time and a place for verging-on-neon and this is very much Not It, you were fine four hours ago. You were fine four minutes ago. The hangover that kicked in just then has nothing to do with alcohol; this, my friend, is a PhD hangover.

And the book-binding people will say, reasonably enough, that they can have the whole thing done all over again for you inside two hours if you don't mind coming back then.

And what you'll think is not even that you're worried about your thesis, or that your PhD is resting on this being handed in on time, or that you have done so damn much for this thing over the years. No. What you'll think is: but it's raining.

And although you will eventually decide that, oh, all right, you might as well, and you will come back two hours later (even soggier, even grumpier), and you will pay that £42.78, you'll surprise even yourself by how close you came to giving up the whole degree at the last minute just because you'd had it with going out in the rain.


  1. My PhD binding story is actually incredibly similar to this, except it involves visiting 3 different binders (incl the official uni binder) before finding one that could do it.

    But this comment is actually to say !£42.78!- mine cost £26.

  2. Autumn Song Says:
  3. Mine cost £38 for binding, but I had to print it out on the appropriate paper myself and carry it in. It could have cost less if I'd been organised enough to get it to the binders earlier. But I wasn't.

    Sympathy over the rain thing, but in a way there a sort of poetic completion about it - you did start off your PhD traipsing about in the rain to register, you may as well finish it that way...

  4. Sisyphus Says:
  5. What happened??? Did they misspell your name on the binding or something?

  6. Laz Says:
  7. One word for you, m'dear (less for feckin' blogger to EAT!): Ichiban.

    Ramen calls me home this weekend. And the hairdresser.

  8. FA - eep, three different binders? What was the issue with it? I had a minor panicky arm-flailing moment converting it to one single pdf (it existed before that as a folder full of files titled things like 'Chapter4FINALfinal') because I thought it would be a realy good idea to include an appendix with colour images the year before. Not a good idea, it turns out. Not at all.

    Autumn Song - This is true. There's a symmetry in that :)

    Sisyphus - It's partly my fault, really; I sent them the pdf with a mistake on the title page (missing my middle name), realised, panicked, e-mailed them with the correct title page and a stream of apologies explaining why it needed swapping and said I'd pay whatever extra was needed if it had already gone to print, and got a very sweet reply saying that it was no problem, they hadn't sent the file to print yet, and they'd received the new title page okay so they'd just swap that over, and that I shouldn't worry. So of course, when I went to pick it up...

    Laz - I was too grumpy even for Ichiban, sad to say!

  9. Went to Uni binder (carrying four heavy copies 1 for hardback, 3 soft back). It was shut for lunch. Killed half an hour and went back to discover- they no longer did hardbacks, but they recommend X. (Official uni binder no longer does hardbacks???!!!).

    Recommendation was a bit of a walk so decided to go to other place I knew of (binder 2) and was slightly nearer... it is gone- shut down and moved to other side of town.

    Decide at this point recommendation is nearer than other side of town and I have better chance of finding it (nonetheless get lost), but eventually get there and success... except for the mistake on my cover sheet which the binder notices (wrong date)! Want to cry at this point, but the man says to email new cover, which I did and it was fine when I picked it up.

    But what should have been a ten minute task turned into a four hour trip around town; at which point I realised that the real test of the PhD does not come until after you submit (especially when you combine it with the 'how do I submit story' and the 'wait five months for a viva story').

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