Oh no, not again...Phillygan

1. The machines - the supervision partners who just never stop.

They’ve done next week’s work, they’ve done next term’s work and don’t even ask about next year. You arrive fashionably on time in your best dishevelled fluster, to a tut from your supervisor, produce your dog-eared sheaf of papers and sigh at the comparison. The most recent Microsoft font is a poor copy of their handwriting, straight lines are simply not an issue, and when their joints haven’t been oiled for a while you can definitely hear them squeaking.

However, despite their space-age intellect, their chat is primitive at best, “I have that type of pen as well”… Um … great.

2. The superhumans - the worst thing is they are lovely.

If their ability to juggle commitments translated into ball skills they would have run away with the circus long ago. Timetabling is always an issue, because, obviously, “any time before lunch is rowing, the orchestra rehearses at 4:00 and my play is performing from 6:00, what about Sunday at 8:00am?” And the worst thing is they are lovely. Charm, wit, and charisma are just three more balls arcing gracefully through the air… and you can’t help but hate them for it. That doesn’t make you a bad person, right?

3. The vegetables - the supervision partners who struggle with the basics.

Turning up has always been an issue (“4:30, oh yeah, cool, yeah, cool, I’ll see you there”) and, to be honest, their presence is more of an anti-presence. Like an intellectual sponge they absorb your carefully crafted, vaguely academic aura, and leave a vacuum into which the hour slowly spirals. Questions directed towards them hang above the room, like the executioner’s axe. You feel like you should jump in but some vague feeling of schadenfreude stops you.

The sight of a world-leading academic trying to pull enthusiasm from a breathing turnip is just too entertaining.

4. The contra-dictators - they’ve apparently researched every topic, every viewpoint, every statistic.

“I’m really glad you brought that up, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree.” It doesn’t matter who’s talking: you, the graduate supervisor or the world leading source on beetle mating habits, the Contra-Dictators always have something to add. They’ve apparently researched every topic, every viewpoint, every statistic, and managed to form contrary opinions one hundred per cent of the time. The faux politeness is what really grinds your gears. They don’t disagree hesitantly – despite what the carefully stuttered intro would suggest – they relish the disagreement, the controversy. They feed on it, and you definitely think they grow as their monologue begins to roll, or maybe that’s just the supervisor’s weird interrogation style lighting.

5. The inter-raptors - like a primeval hunter they swoop.

You vaguely mentioned Europe, aaaaaah Europe, a link. From their vantage point, very much outside the conversation, they spy an opening and, like the first feathered dinosaur in an Attenborough documentary, they plummet towards their prey. “Sorry, just - if I may, I was recently looking at some very interesting European literature, specifically some German works of the young Hegelians School.” And that’s it, suddenly the supervision turns into a one-man variety show. You’ve seen it before, this one’s never coming back. It’s masterful how they bat away the insinuating heavy comments from the supervisor and your meaningful glances. Time for an hour of ego-stroking. And you thought you’d signed up for a maths degree.

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