After my graduation in 1991, my sociology faculty offered me a studentship to do my phd, I was offered a bursary of £10k a year with only ten hours teaching a week. I really wanted to do it! I had a really interesting area of research, which had never been considered before, which I can’t really explain here, because sociological research is full of jargon and complicated to comprehend at the best of times… suffice to say if it had been valid it would have turned the would of social studies on its head.

My faculty considered me the most promising student of my year and my theory boggled their minds. At the time I was married with two young children so felt I had to discuss this offer with my now ex-wife. She was adamant that I should leave uni and get a proper job. Her arguments were valid, I had been studying for five years and we had lived off a grant in all those years. She argued that £10,000 was not enough to live on.

I thought hard about this. I really wanted to do my Phd, but I thought that she also made a valid argument. I thought that I could go and earn a decent wage with my new degree enhancing my job opportunities, and then go back to uni at a later stage. Wrong on both counts. I turned down the studentship and then spent a frustrating time trying to get a job. Far from enhancing my job opportunities my degree pushed me further back down the queue for decent jobs! I wrote hundreds of job applications and only got two interviews. One at the co-op looking to enter in at middle management level, I blew the interview! The other was as admin assistant for the ministry of Agriculture on a six month temporary contract, on a derisory wage half of the amount I would have received on my studentship. Not only was I not doing anything worthwhile, but I was underling to an obnoxious 19 year old girl who had no further education and no common sense.

I had gone from being at the cutting edge of my area of study, to being an office lackey, filing, answering phones and generally wasting my time.

I didn’t last long.

I think now about where I would have been if Id taken the other fork in the road? Would I have had ten years with my beloved? Would I have remained with my ex-wife for thirty years? Would I have been as devoted a father as I have been? who knows.

In all probability I would have ended up in a tryst with an under-graduate…I would probably have been carpetted by the university… It was in my nature. The aesthetic of pure study appeals to me, but would I have grown weary of it? Who knows, I soon grew weary of being a merchandiser and a courier… but I stuck both of them for fifteen years.

So is there a moral? Yes. Do what you want not what you feel is right, it’s your life and doing something you hate is soul destroying.

Dale M

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