By comparison to my usual columns, this week’s is abnormally personal. After a few days on holiday in North Wales and the rest of term mostly spent holed up in my ‘study’ out in Eynsham, I’m lacking sufficient material for genuine reportage.

Anyway, Quad Talk topics usually follow the academic calendar. Just in case you are unfamiliar with it: the students are taking exams. Little to say about that apart from “Bon Courage”.

Instead, this article is about time, not as measure, but about our individualised (though socially conditioned) temporal horizons. It is about the experience of past, present and future.

Time is something that I think about a lot, not as a philosopher, I hasten to add (and as the above sentences may already indicate for some readers). I am a political theorist writing on ‘the politics of time’. I’ll spare you the details.

Needless to say, time is often on my mind, though no longer on my side. I tell my DPhil supervisor that to get a full understanding of it all, I have to near the end of time before finishing my thesis. The joke is wearing thin.

Moving completion dates aside, DPhils bring with them a rather predictable time horizon. We know where we are going to be and what we are going to do for three or more—even [*cough*]—years. It is reassuring.

But the problem with time horizons, a concept I deliberately pluralise, is that we cannot see beyond them. Horizons as possibility or expectation are stubbornly rooted in the present.

And when one nears the end of the DPhil, their horizons become far less secure. Where I will be in a year, and if I will be able to feed myself, is uncertain.

I am now nearing completion and officially ‘on the market’ as it is put in academia parlance. For some, this widens horizons; for others it is sunset.

Part of the problem is that there is a misperception that the academic track broadens our horizons. In terms of our understanding, it does. Or at least I would hope so.

Otherwise, after a number of years on one trajectory, the present-future looks unnervingly unsettled. Apart from the lucky few, many are hurriedly finishing up ahead of a precipice.

Finding an academic job is the art of the possible. Be picky at your peril. The market is global, Brexit or not. A friend recently sent in applications for positions in America, Britain and Burma.

It is more complicated for those, like me, who form part of an academic couple. At least my partner, who for the purpose of anonymity I will call ‘Rosemary’, is not a political theorist. She does something far more employable.

Consequently, it is likely that her endeavours will have the greatest impact on my horizons. I don’t need to be in a lab, so can follow in tow – even if travel expenses are worryingly similar to earnings.

At least I know where the train is headed.