Saturday, April 30, 2011

Graduation day

Graduation Day

So, 32 years after taking Part III of the Maths Tripos, I've finally received a degree for it, the MMath, the most junior of the three Masters degrees I hold from Cambridge.

With this batch of retrospective degrees, my old college -- Emmanuel -- wanted to make big celebration of it, so as well as going to be admitted to the degree in person, it was an occasion to take up, for the very first time, my MA dining rights. And with such a retrospective grant there were people ranging from retirees to those who had still to take the MA -- but comparatively few who had actually done much mathematical for long after Part III! Stranger still to see some people for the first time in half a lifetime or more -- "Did I used to supervise you?"

The weather was bright and rather breezy, though the Chapel Court, where the photo was taken (if only I'd noticed I'd still not untucked the bands from under the hood), was quite still, so while waiting for the reception before lunch we waited in the shade in New Court -- admiring the roses and irises already blooming in the sheltered and sunny parts. And it was at that point that I realised that the stitching had failed down the side of both of my new pair of shoes...

There was discreet disabled access into the Old Library for the drinks, and then, in Hall, Karen was seated at the end of one table, avoiding any problems with the benches.

After lunch we separated as I went to get placed into the correct order in the crocodile, have the ceremony rehearsed, and then marched to the Senate House. Once inside it was possible to discreetly dab at the perspiration from a brisk walk in the sun in all the gear -- graduation days are usually either hot or wet -- while waiting our turn.

After having been processed, without tripping over my gown, or losing bits of shoe, time to go out onto the lawn, get some professional photos, chat with other people I knew also getting the MMath, before heading off, handing back the hood and gown (Karen was wearing our joint MA gown, as a Member of the University attending a Congregation), and then, at last, taking off the shoes that were just about holding upper and soles together, to go barefoot back to the car.

After a short pause to recover, I then cycled back into town for Hall dominated by newly minted MMath graduates; a very pleasant meal followed by cheese, fruit and chocolates with coffee port and Madeira in the parlour, all with a great deal of reminiscence.

And then, about half past ten, back on the bike to cycle back home in the pleasantly cool evening, and with surprisingly little traffic on any of the roads.

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