Graduation Day

Friday, the 20th of July, 2007 - 13 to 11pm

Current Song ~ "Graduation Day" by Chris Isaak.

Here it is, after only a mere handful of months: the Graduation Report.
And I like to think that, while I obviously lose points on the writing speed front, I scrape some back for thematically appropriate music.

The big day was in fact the 27th of April, and began with my arriving at the Barbican in very, very good time for registration. Stupidly good time, even.
Initial signs were not brilliant. As the minutes ticked down, I and the rest of the paranoid elite milled about outside, peering through the glass doors, failing to spot any kind of life within, and quietly going through the usual panic routine.
Is this the right day? The right time? The right Barbican?

Then, on the very dot of eleven thirty, the stewards were suddenly unleashed from the back of the building; striding forth in all their orange-sashed glory to conquer ignorance, show us the true path to registration, and bring together graduand and hood in, if not harmony, then at least something vaguely reminiscent of proper graduate dress.

This, they did with phenomenal efficiency: I got my certificate, programme, presentation card, and robe, and was back outside the Barbican in eight minutes flat.
(It did of course help that I was one of only two people in the A-to-F queue. My part of the alphabet is clearly not doing its bit for academia.)
That left me with... some fifty-two minutes of the time I'd allowed before meeting up with my family.

At last they showed up, pictures were taken outside the Barbican, and then it was off to The Hope for lunch.
It's an early-opening pub that has connections with the local meat market, but no discernible connection between the lower half (proper pub) and upper half (dining) of the establishment itself.
I chose the pub on the basis of its reputation for good meat sandwiches. Upstairs, they have a different (and pricier) menu, which had the meat (there were about three 'vegetarian options', one of which was salmon) but not the option of having it served between two slices of bread.
We found this out the hard way. Still, there are worse disappointments in life, and we did at least have the interesting experience of being served by the least enthusiastic woman in all of London.

Back at the Barbican, the long wait began. Or, in my mother's case, the long arrangement and re-arrangement of my hood.
No amount of tweaking could get it to look quite like the picture on the instruction sheet. She eventually found some small comfort when we passed a gowned-up bloke in the foyer and she noted that 'his look even worse than yours!'.
Strangely, I found this statement rather less reassuring...

Then it was time to find our seats, and after a musical interlude (large brass ensemble, nice varied programme of classical and jazz pieces), in came a vast horde of academic types in a dazzling array of different robes - some of them very cool indeed.

I hadn't realised beforehand that the first part of the ceremony would feature the installation of the OU's new Chancellor... who turned out to be David Puttnam, producer of The Killing Fields. An unexpected bonus!

Then we had the presentation of graduates - all fifty trillion of us.
Clapping for everyone was quite a test of stamina, but the entire hall still managed extra-loud applause for all of the elderly and visibly disabled graduates, which was rather nice.

Watching everyone was also quite a welcome distraction before I went up, as I've always tended to worry more about walking across stages than I worry about performing on them.
Standing in the line was somewhat nerve-wracking (though I'm sure my mother appreciated the fact that there were stewards sorting out everyone's hoods before they got to the stage!), but the actual moment went by so swiftly that I barely had time to think about it.

Meanwhile at the back of the hall, my family discovered that our digital camera fell a tad short of what circumstances demanded.
There was a decent short of the impressively-gowned academics, some out-of-focus piccies... and then there was this:

blurry graduation photo

Somewhere in there is me shaking hands with David Puttnam. I really rather like it.

Finally we were unleashed upon an unsuspecting world - in my case, an unsuspecting Tesco's (for a much-needed bottle of water), and then on to Pizza Express.

And that, we may all be relieved to hear, is that.
Of course, after months of kind of looking forward to not having essay deadlines to worry about, I'm now hoping to get the cash together for postgraduate study.

'Tis true what they say about the OU being addictive!


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