My dissertation is due in just under a week. I’m seeking an extension, because I’ve been a bit poorly and have lost a lot of work time over the last week, but I still hope to get it in on time.

But that will mean my course will be over. Which is a little bit saddening. I’ve enjoyed being a student again, even though this academic year’s particular situation has meant that the experience has been distinctly unlike a classic student one. Even, I’m sure, for Birkbeck, ‘London’s evening university.’

I have, for example, met none of my classmates in person. I’ve met exactly one member of staff, and that in the park in Gordon Square. I’ve never been in the department’s building. I’ve been into any Birkbeck building – the library – I think three times, maybe four.

Online classes have been fine, though. I wonder if creative writing, in its common workshopping format, works especially well over Teams or Zoom. Everyone takes turns to comment on the piece that’s being discussed, and there’s much less scope for interruptions, compared to in person. Of course the downside of that is that there’s less scope for conversation, for organic discussion. So we probably lost out in some ways, too.

Less, though, than students on other courses, and especially first year undergraduates. Like my daughter, who has done a year of uni and met practically no one on her course. It’s a strange state of affairs, to be sure.

But we move on. This novel extract isn’t going to dissert itself.