Tuesday, March 15, 2005

How Many Undergraduates Does It Take To Use A Stapler?

How Many Undergraduates Does It Take To Use A Stapler?

If anyone ever asks me what the hardest part of the English course here at Oxford is my answer is fairly straight forward. Old English, 4,000 words worth of essay every week, stepping into tutorials with the person who not only wrote the book on the subject but who made and marketed the t-shirt too, all as difficult as they are don't quite make the grade. Nope, the most difficult bit of the course was stapling my bloody extended essay together.* Seriously, that little bugger took me about thirty minutes to achieve. And all because the exam regulations state that we're not allowed to bind our essays or put them in folders. Which would be a sensible thing to do. Normal, 2.99 from Woolworths, staplers are not made to fasten thirty sheets of A4 together. It's not in their job description. Mine balks at stapling any more than ten sheets. The sight of all that paper spewing forth from the printer almost caused it to spontaneously combust. So, having felt somewhat smug that my essay was all finished prior to midnight, I subsequently felt a lot less smug when I was bent over my chair trying to hold the essay at such an angle that the stapler would work. Suddenly my musings on the National Theatre production of Stuff Happens seemed entirely unimportant. No, my whole degree hung on whether I could get that bloody staple in. Four years work, one tiny staple. They don't tell you about that in the prospectus.

Unlike with my Woolf essay, when I went to hand this one in at Examination Schools I wasn't offered a mumps vaccination at the same time. I admit to being somewhat sad - I rather liked the whole ethos of 'give in the piece of work that makes up one ninth of your degree and then have a wacking great needle stuck into your arm to celebrate'. It's a winning idea.

*Obviously I haven't yet done the seven-exams-in-two weeks thing, but I'm suspecting even these will have a problem defeating the stapling.

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