DJ Taylor: How does ageing student Lucian afford his (surprisingly expensive) post-graduate lifestyle and what does he hope to get out of it?

 

Share

People introduced to Lucian for the first time – usually fellow students at the University of Loamshire – very often wonder how old he is. The brightly coloured sweatshirts and the wispy goatee might suggest a resting point somewhere in the early twenties, but there is a faint suspicion, born of the practised manner in which he enters the university dining hall, that he is a good deal older than this. As it happens, Lucian, for all his young person's slang, brightly burnished Doc Martens and hand-rolled cigarettes, is very nearly 31.

Just at this moment, Lucian is in his fifth year of study for a PhD in TS Eliot's poetics. "You can't rush a doctorate," he will tell admiring younger friends with ambitions in this field. Certainly, his own engagement with The Waste Land and Four Quartets has proceeded with commendable caution, involving as it has a gap year at the start and a six-month furlough halfway through spent on a mushroom farm in Cardiganshire, not to mention a nerve-wrenching crisis of confidence six months ago during which three draft chapters were torn up and thrown away.

There are veteran academics at Loamshire who claim never to remember a time when Lucian could not be seen putting up notices about the Warhammer Club, drinking coffee in the graduate common room or reserving squash courts for odd times in the middle of the night, but in fact he arrived there as recently as 2007. Before this, he acquired a certificate in fiction at the University of Warwick and before that an MA (the course was supposed to take a year but Lucian spun it out to 30 months) at Nottingham. Tony Blair was contemplating his second term in the year he began his undergraduate degree, and some of the people he studied with have children at primary school.

How does Lucian afford the (surprisingly expensive) post-graduate lifestyle and what does he hope to get out of it? The fees, it should be said, are paid by a doting grandmother. As for his ultimate ambition, although there is occasional talk of research assistantships and overseas fellowships, the fact is that Lucian has rather a taste for student life, its shared houses, marathon computer gaming and mid-afternoon plates of beans on toast. At any rate, the thought that at some point he might have to quit the University of Loamshire for the world beyond is enough to fill him with the profoundest unease.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital