I am reporting to you this week from U165. This is not a far-flung planet, but my regular desk in the upper reading room of the Old Bodleian Library, where I have been a denizen for the last few months.

These environs are not unfamiliar to me, or any Oxford student (apart from my partner, a biologist, who prides herself on remaining loyal to the Radcliffe Science Library if she ever has to leave the lab).

The first order of business for newly arrived postgraduates of the bookish persuasion is to scout out a preferred place to work.

I started here, but moved around over the years. The library in the Rothermere American Institute was home for a good while. Given its name, one is right to guess that funding essentially comes from The Daily Mail – not my cuppa – but after a charm campaign, the librarians granted access to the staff kitchen. Good coffee.

College libraries are usually ruled out during term. Decorum is severely lacking. Too many fraternizing undergraduates snacking on crisps and whispering about the next College Bop, occasions I only visit in nightmares.

Subject libraries dilute the pool. Alas the Social Science library is still a no-go area. I have already suffered through one Norman Foster designed library whilst at the London School of Economics.

This one is worse. Horrible acoustics, ghastly toilets. When forced to read a confined book, I almost need sunglasses to combat the white light bouncing off white desks. Bright pink and purple chairs increase the chances of a migraine.

The politics department is in the same building. Free coffee, but a similar colour scheme.

Where else? The café in Blackwell’s bookshop is a favourite for those strong enough to avoid shopping for novels on the way upstairs. That is beyond my capabilities.

So here I am. After all these years, back to the original Upper Bod for the final dissertation push. For those wondering, it is seventy-six steps to the top. I count them each day, just to make sure.

Advertising my location in a newspaper risks confrontation. Do not steal my desk. But suffice to say that U165 is a choice spot. It is at the end of a row, located just near a window and the intellectual history journals – a welcome distraction on occasion.

The Old Bod reading rooms are diverse ecosystems. Plenty of undergrads, but well behaved. My area, near the corner, boats a healthy population of senior scholars – including some ‘big names’ – all hunched over something intriguing. One chap watches films all day.

I’m starting to become familiar with a few regulars. There is a woman, a historian, who sits opposite me. We are on smiling terms, and have even exchanged a few words.

She has become my work ethic barometer. If I arrive at 9.02am, I’m late by comparison. In fact, I worry that she judges me, but this makes for good motivation. At some point I’ll need to get her name for my acknowledgements.