Saturday, October 23, 2004

Launcelot Fleming House, Wychfield - Chez Moi Posted by Hello

May I be excused? My brain is full.

So, my supervisor rocks. It was so worth hauling myself out of bed after stumbling home at 1.30 am to make it over to his office by 11 am on a Saturday.

I left reeling and euphoric after what felt like an hour-long conversation. Consultation with my watch put it at somewhere under 30 minutes.

So, I was not necessarily at my most confident on the way over. I probably overdressed for a Saturday (polo shirt, jumper, tweed jacket and slacks) but had never seen my supervisor in anything but a suit.

I cycled over to the research centre (a couple of inconspicuous white houses set in some lovely gardens) and arrived steaming slightly from my slightly-shaven scalp in the humidity.

Then realised I had no idea where in the grand ole rabbit warren his office was.

After tip-toeing through a conference, I found him in a set of rooms off a first floor landing, behind his computer in jeans and polar fleece. His office was utterly book-crammed, documents everywhere, including fisheries maps and something that I suspect was Malaysia’s memorial in an upcoming law of the sea dispute.

He actually seemed very slightly impressed I’d put together a 19 page paper since we spoke two weeks ago. He thought it raised some interesting issues. He liked the research I’d done on US anti-drug trafficking treaties.

“I suspect your topic might be broader than weapons of mass destruction. But you’ve convinced me there’s enough here for a PhD.”

He outlined the direction I should be continuing in, pointed me towards some resources and described the interaction between fisheries regimes and customary law on the high seas with magnificent economy, and pointed out how on some of my issues of jurisdiction I needed to be looking at European human rights cases.

“Um … we’re also meant to discuss my training needs,” I offered. “I suspect I need to learn more about finding European documents. I’ve gone to some sessions at the library, I suspect I’ll go to more.”

“How’s your French?” he asked.

“Six years of high-school that’s grown quite rusty.”

“But you can read?”

“Ur … slowly and with a dictionary?”

“I think reading French will be important. There’s a lot of good writers on the law of the sea in French. To kill two birds with one stone you should pick a book –”

Doug thinks: Tintin in the original?

“- something recent on the law of the sea and write a review. I can arrange for the American Journal or one of the others to give it to you. Then you get the experience of reading French and writing about it in English, and your name in print.”


Doug (weakly): “Great. I might just sign myself up for a course at the language centre as well, though. I mean, I’m sure the structure of it all is still there somewhere, but I could use a refresher.”

Somehow I suspect that what I remember of Mr H’s immersion French classes will not, of itself, allow me to comprehend academic writing on international law.

But I am so excited about my research. This was a huge boost to my confidence. I did not look like a fool in front of one of the best in my field. I convinced him my topic is viable. He’s friendly and accessible.

… and he’s pushing me to write a review of a French academic work for a major journal.

Game on.

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