Doctor of BS

They call him “Doctor BS”, 

Adrian has heard them in the Quad, 

The students with their Costa Coffees, 

Sniggering over the story in the SU rag 

About the feud 

Between him and his anonymous enemy. 

They’re calling him “Doctor BS”, 

In the Senior Common Room, 

Where word has gone round about 

The “fundamental issues with his methodology” 

And his “failure to recognise the implications of his thesis, 

Or its connection to the rich pool of literature that came before him, 

Which one might suspect means he has not read any of it.” 

They’re quoting the reviews over lunch at Exam Board, 

And the VC is chuckling that such a slim tome 

Could provoke such an aggrieved response, 

“But that’s academia for you,” the VC says, 

poking the Registrar in the arm as if it is necessary 

to remind him of his own academic failures. 

Adrian hears the name repeated and repeated, 

And it’s clear that even people who wouldn’t know him, 

Who’d pass by his door and not double take at the nameplate, 

Know who this “Doctor BS” is, 

Know how the BS in his work has caused offence, 

Know that, to quote one review, 

He’s “the very illustration of all that is wrong with Higher Education today. 

An undistinguished hack from a former polytechnic, 

Published in a premier journal because they’re greedy 

For the pages, and they’ve ceased caring about quality.” 

Oh, he’s heard that one a few times, has Adrian,  

It has become the very crux of his academic identity, 

It has become the reason he has been asked for a follow-up paper, 

And to speak at the 45th Conference of that Society,  

The name of which he can never recall,  

But whose approval he apparently craves. 

“Doctor BS” and all the very many barbs that have been sent his way, 

Have pushed him the right side of notorious, 

Have made his name, 

Even if it’s not quite his name. 

And, Adrian thinks, that’s all to the good. 

That’s really quite copacetic. 

Because it more than makes up for all the effort he’d put 

Into writing the reviews in the first place. 

Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Brown Bag.

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