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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Get Your Cards Right

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arrogant it may be, but I suspect that when deep in the tunnel of research, a lot of PhD students look to a glimmer at the end of it that is about the size and shape of a playing card, and shines in the sun. I am talking about a credit or debit card, and that glorious day when you envisage walking into a bank, slapping it onto the counter, and being greeted with, "Good morning, Doctor."

As I blogged when I passed my viva, the process of completing is somewhat subdued. Because there are so many stages to go through, you are never actually sure when you have cleared the final hurdle into doctorship. But the moment that new bank card lands on your doormat, and you start using it in everyday life, is the moment you know you have finally done with the thing.

Which is why I have been frustrated about how hard it actually is to get a card with this new epithet on. When I applied to the Youth Hostel Association, I used the tag, but got back a card simply with my name on it. Likewise, I thought Waterstones ought to be impressed by having a doctor (of English literature, don't they know!) amongst their customers. But you would not have known it from the plain card which arrived after I had applied, which had nothing on save for a string of numbers. My bank, Smile, similarly did not have any easy way of changing my card, though having spoken to a somewhat bemused man on the phone, I am waiting for a new card to flutter onto the doormat any day now.

However, my vanity may well have got the better of me. In this new tax year, I applied for a new ISA, using my new tag (for, surely, they will invest my money more carefully, won't they?). A couple of days later, though, an unexpected letter arrives on the mat. "Dear Dr." it reads, "We have been unable to verify your identity through the usual records checks. Please supply three items of identification showing clearly your name and address." Naturally, my recent utility bills and passports have not been updated, so I am left to worry: will they trust there's a doctor in the house?

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Posted by Alistair at 8:22 am

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