The tale of the Oxford Prof’s group (4 of 5)

The Prof would sometime, not always, hint that he wanted something more. But what?

The tale of the Oxford Prof’s group continued

Some of the postdoc fans  grew more direct in their efforts to ascertain what the Prof wanted. But for the most part they lacked confidence. Remember, that was mostly why they had talked to him in the first instance; because he was safe and familiar. So having run out of other options, some tried to gently explain to the Prof that this was difficult for them. And others asked what the point was? And did he remember what was said many months ago? But he seemed to wish to avoid any explanations [1].

Eventually some of the postdocs grew bolder. Others grew anxious; their confidence gradually whittled away. The Prof for his part, continued in daily making comments on the postdocs and their contributions. Sometimes he would appear to strongly favour one. Sometimes another. The fans began to wonder if all of this really counted as kindly interest. What did he want?

And this is where it gets hazy – and more speculative. For the Prof almost certainly wanted something.

Around the time when most of the physical encouragement of his fans happened, a new student joined the Prof’s group. She was presented to the group as thirty years younger than him, in the process of getting married, and as someone who he wanted to encourage in her career. (There being a lack of women in his research field.) And because the Prof was a kindly sort, he could not be trying to split her up from her partner to marry her himself. After all, he was her Supervisor.

But, just say, that maybe this had come into his mind. And gradually grown there. Perhaps to the point that she was everything he currently wanted.

The Student Hypothesis

Given the 30 year age gap between the Prof and the Student, and that the Student was both beautiful and intelligent, the Prof might now need to sell himself a little more than usual.

The Prof had always had an interest in pitching himself as `Waitrose-class’.  TBH most Profs do – so this is perhaps not entirely surprising. And whilst this Prof had many fine points, just possibly he might not be seen as entirely reliable. So we can speculate that perhaps he perceived that to be seen as *in-demand* as well as Waitrose-class, would be helpful. And of course, nothing should be obviously directed at his Student on his Lists. So a degree of misattribution on the Lists would help ensure that any intentions towards his Student would be disguised.

The Prof could not explain anything to his fans because he needed them to ensure he seemed in-demand. Any explanation of what was actually going on would also be awkward and risky.

Another helpful aspect would be to get the postdoc fans to generate as much heat and noise as possible. So all fan based communication should be public; that would best add to the effect. Maybe some public fighting would be a nice evil genius touch? There would be no point in private communications unless they led to something useful in the public (student) sphere. And ideally, the postdocs should present themselves in a way that made the Prof appear like, well, a catch. For example, nice photographs of themselves.

It worked rather well. There was misattribution of the Prof’s List contributions by his postdoc fans. They knew that his student was so clearly entirely out of bounds that his List contributions could not possibly be directed at her. Who else could they be directed at? This meant his contributions could safely be primarily directed at her, with misattribution from others – and all the attendant fringe benefits.

Footnotes

[1] And here, I feel obliged to say, in the case of where one is trying to be kind, but clear to one’s fans – I tend to find any of the following tend to work well: “You are lovely, I am flattered, but I am taken / you are not my type.”. Or, if relevant, perhaps “I Am Married!”.  Or, in the reverse case, perhaps the more straightforward “32C is too small. I cant get it up for less than a D-cup”. Well, okay, that last one might be kinda a little on the direct side. But said face-to-face would be nice and clear. No?

[end part 4]

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