Advent calendar 16: Middle class problems (the dissertation)

On the sixteenth day of Christmas,
The Bakery gave to me:
Middle class problems (the dissertation)

It was the dissertation that didn’t want to be written
It was foremost in my thinking at the time
I was fresh out of college
And chock–full of knowledge
So the idea came to me
To do a PhD

But what to think? What to do?
There’s been buckets done on Proust
Shelves of Melville
Mounds of Milton
Jurisprudence and ‘the Truth’

And there’s been heaps and heaps
On Shelley and on Keats
A raft of work on Goethe
And that’s just the work on Werther

On Foucaldian power discourses
On lateral blowholed porpoises
On post-colonial literature
Satire, Wit and Caricature

A library of work on Wittgenstein
A barrage concerned with Frankenstein
The female in the Gothic
And the meaning of erotic

Hitler’s march on Stalingrad
The biology of the lily pad
The Reichstag Fire
Medieval lire
The Jadoons of Abbottabad

Wheat growth in the Caucuses
The strength of Norman fortresses
Factions in the Politburo
And the intricate truths of Diderot

Sartre’s bleak and dismal thoughts
The role of the judge in modern tort
Abdominal cramps in the under tens
And spotted newts in the Cambridge fens

And so it fell to me to choose
A topic of vision, clarity and truth
A topic that would change the world
And like a dawning day the thought unfurled:

‘Female emancipation amongst Huguenot weavers in 19th Century Whitechapel’


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  1. Am I to assume that this poem, The Dissertation, is from an entire anthology entitled Middle Class Problems? If so, what other problems are addressed, and what are the titles?

    May I suggest:

    ‘Help, There’s Bordeaux on The Axminster!’
    ‘It’s So Hard To Find a Good Au Pair, Felicity.’

  2. Tom German Doesnt live here anymore

    Fine titles. And that is a fantastic idea. I would appreciate your input on this project.

    Other titles:
    ‘The breadmakers broken down’
    ‘Artisan blues’
    ‘The Farmers market is further than you think’
    ‘I dont believe in God, but I want the education that a Church of England school provides’

    Looking forward to seeing you next week…

  3. Tom German Doesnt live here anymore

    Richard, as a literary man, could you just appreciate and compliment me on one line.
    A raft of work on Goethe
    And that’s just the work on Werther

    Come on. Thats clever. Thats fucking Flanders and Swann. Please. Bearing in mind I have a low attention span and I was on a bus, thats a good rhyme and technically correct. I await your approval


  4. Chef Richard *

    You don’t need my approval, Mr German. Although, the title ‘I dont believe in God, but I want the education that a Church of England school provides’ made me laugh aloud.

    The Goethe/Werther rhyme is very good. Although plenty of people understandably don’t know how to pronounce Goethe and many others may be unaware of his work The Sorrows of Young Werther. Consequently, as with much that is celebrated in this world, it might pass some people by.

    Therefore, due to its elitist nature, I think that rhyme is less Flanders and Swann, more Noel Cowerd. You might consider this a flattering upgrade or not, depending on your cultural stance.

    By an odd coincidence I had actually been listening to Flanders and Swann shortly before you posted this up.

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