There’s no room for failure in the arts

I was pacing by afternoon. Why hadn’t Fife called to apologise? Or even just to talk it out? I’ve been getting more and more anxious as the today went by, and I figured if I didn’t do something I’d call him and most likely regret it.

To keep my mind off things I called both D and B, but they were out. So I went over to PoshPhD’s flat. I half expected her to ask about last night’s fight, and I kind of wanted to talk about it. Actually, if I’m truthful, I wanted to rant to someone about it. She opened the door to her flat; she was also pacing back and forth with a gin and tonic in her hand. She asked if I wanted one, but my head was still a bit foggy from drinking the night before.

PoshPhD’s got ANOTHER supervisor meeting next week, and she’s just about given up. She said she can’t do it anymore. Her laptop was open on the floor, with her thesis up on the screen and she started circling it, talking to it: ‘I don’t know what else to do with you?’ ‘I’ve already adjusted you a thousand times.’ ‘Just be finished, why don’t you?’

Then she sat down and said in a voice that sounded exasperated, ‘I asked for this meeting with him, but I don’t really see the point. They’re going to fail me anyway.’ She looked so sad.

I said, ‘I thought you said they wouldn’t fail you because you’re self-funded. They’d just let you do what you like, and get on with your work.’

She explained that when you’re doing a PhD, you have to ‘progress’ in your first year from an MPhil to a PhD. She should have progressed by now, but they keep asking her to rewrite. And while they may not kick her out, they could keep her from progressing, thus making her life miserable until she leaves. She also said that if you don’t progress in the first year, you never will. She said that no matter how much you rewrite, they’ll always see you as a failure. Plus, she added, even if she did make it to submission and examination, the department’s already made a decision about her work. Would she find an internal examiner (an external and an internal examiner have to mark your final thesis) who wasn’t bias?

PoshPhD’s hand slightly shook as she spoke. She drained her glass then got up to make another G&T. She came back into the lounge with the bottle of gin and the bottle of tonic. She poured a very tall portion of gin and only a splash of tonic, then she took a picture off the wall which had been held up with blue tack. It was her as a little girl, and a what I assumed is her father. ‘He’ll be so disappointed,’ she said. ‘Everyone in my family is a success. They just are. That’s how it is.’ 

According to PoshPhD the arts aren’t as laissez-faire as everyone thinks. It’s just as back biting, competitive and aggressive as working in the city – maybe more so because art is also personal. ‘There’s no room for failure in the arts,’ she said. ‘That’s why I’ve decided to go down the academic route. I’m not artistic. Not like them. It was a way to succeed without having to produce.’

Then she threw the picture on the floor. I said that we should get out of the flat. Go do something, get our minds off our troubles. That maybe she should put on some trousers, she’d definitely feel better. She agreed. It was a lovely day, kind of briskly chilly, but no rain. We took a walk up to the observatory, where PoshPhD took out a joint. My first reaction was to pass. But why? Things were kind of shit, and I could use a giggle. Posh and I sat up at that observatory for hours laughing and nothing. Finally we tripped home and I fell asleep on the floor of my lounge. I’ve just woken-up. My head was a bit foggy at first, and I thought that maybe it was all a dream. That maybe Fife and I are still together, that the night before never happened. But his spare keys are still on the floor by the door where he left them.

Why hasn’t he called? I hate feeling this way — angry and sad but desperately wanting to see the person that made me sad and angry. I haven’t felt this way since HarryPotter. Why did I have to fuck that up? If I hadn’t fucked up things with HarryPotter I would have never dated Fife, and I wouldn’t be feeling like shit just now. Why did I have to fuck things up with Fife? Why didn’t I just toss Pete out when I started seeing Fife?

I think I’m going to do a Not in the Bathtub Blogroll. Just to get my mind off it. But I’ll put that in a new post.


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