If you are considering pursuing a postgraduate degree, or have just begun, a word of warning: there is nothing more perilous to your work, more distracting and dangerous than the DVD box set. It is only February and already I have watched the whole of Boardwalk Empire; I’ve seen two series of The Good Wife, 1.5 series of Mad Men, and secretly stream Grey’s Anatomy every Sunday evening. It has become a furtive practice, usually carried out alone when I slope off to my room to do some ‘work’. I reward myself with a wee episode after an hour or two of work.
But I am a B-S junkie. I can never watch just one episode. If I am in the middle of a bout of intense work, you can generally find me at lunchtime, in my grotty dressing gown and fingerless gloves, hunched over Dexter. Be warned my friends, the PhD is a route to madness. Most days, it is just you and your mind and your TV friends. Lots of students opt for Jezzers Kyle or the eminent Judge Judy. I at least pick excellent TV shows which are unfortunately unputdownable. Working at home is always dangerous. I generally don’t bother getting dressed, and I often work in bed if I’m reading. I’ll find myself distracted by the smallest things – laundry, hoovering, putting up that picture frame that has been gathering dust for months. I talk to my plants, encouraging them to grow like a deranged horse whisperer. The most mortifying moment will come when an unexpected visitor knocks on the door. This happened last week. I was mid-episode of Mad Men, doing a bit of knitting in my PJs and painting my nails, when the landlord walked in. His look of disgust may or may not have been from the smell of the dishcloths I was boiling at the time. But I am ashamed. Do yourselves a favour – get up, get dressed, and go into the library. Even if you don’t achieve much, you will probably learn more than the problems in Donald Draper’s marriage. Stay away from the box sets!