Monday, December 6, 1982


After half-vowing to do my outstanding work and staying up until 7 a.m. in a feeble self-defeating attempt at doing something, I ended up going to today’s tutorials having done nothing.

My American Civilisation tutorial went OK; Simon Palfreyman talked with us about Moby Dick, of which I’d only read fifty pages. Luckily I was able to waffle coherently as though I knew what I was talking about.

My Philosophy tutorial was OK too: I’d already seen Herring earlier in the afternoon to apologise for messing him about and also to explain to him that I’d done nothing. As everyone reeled off their arguments I sat there mostly silently, contributing the occasional (but adequate) thought. Herring wished us all a Merry Christmas and said he’d learned as much from us as he hoped we had from him (only that philosophy seems, on the whole, an enormous misuse of time, talent and energy . . . but perhaps this is just guilt and self-justification talking). He mentioned the “scathing” report he’d written about me and singled me out for semi-serious jovial condemnation.

Academically speaking, this term has been a bit of a flop for me. There's been no big break with habits of old; I'm still dogged by the same idleness, the same lack of drive, motivation, ambition and lack of direction. . . . I worry this will always condemn me to failure.

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