Yes, finally, last Tuesday I graduated. The PhD whinge shall never be heard again.
It was a good night. Flowers from Brain arrived just before we left home for QPAC. My family (Parentals, Sis, Nephew, Uncle, Aunt, and Significant Other) came along to offer moral support and to make sure I hadn’t been lying about the PhD for the past five or so years and just using it as an excuse not to go out on weekends.
The first challenge at QPAC was following the signs that in theory directed one to the robing area for academics and staff … a point of order: the arrows should not point in different directions. I’m just saying. Having found the robing area, there was a heated discussion between the young folk doing the robing as to which side the red tassel on the floppy hat went before and after the ceremony. In the end, we settled on left, then right – still not sure it’s right. But it would have been nice if someone had been sure at the time.
Next, went up and ‘jumped the queue’ for the photography services – apparently you can do that when you’re a PhD; they even gave me a card with a red dot on it to make it all official. Going to try waving that next time I’m at the grocery store. Then, my family arrived and we took more photos, the gurning ones where everyone’s got red eyes, someone’s yelling instructions at someone else, another someone is looking in the wrong direction, etc. Got lots of those.
At 6.15, it was time for me to trundle off back to the robing area for the ‘briefing’ as to how to conduct ourselves as part of the academic procession (no conga line, limbo dancing or crumping apparently), which actually consisted of someone putting us in an alphabetically-pleasing line. And so we set off (not crumping) to the dulcet tune of “Gaudeamus Igitur”, or “So Let Us Rejoice” (which is basically a politely rollicking Latin version of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”).
We found our seats, we listened to speeches – including a great address by former Sony boss, Michael Smellie, who spoke intelligently about the Creative Industries and how creatives should conduct their careers (find mentors, collaborators, etc) – it was a hugely nice change from the speech given by a worse-for-liquid-lunch ex-Lord Mayor a few years back, which started with ‘You people will never earn the same money as engineers’.
I spent part of the eve shaking my middle-aged head at the folk who couldn’t be bothered to dress up for the night. Jeans, no matter how much you paid for them or how awesome you think you look = not cool. Young men: tuck your shirts in and go to the trouble of begging, borrowing or stealing a tie (no matter how ugly). Young women: wearing a dress so short that it makes the front row of the audience into amateur (and unwilling) gynaecologists, needs a serious rethink. Try for a bit of style, a bit of class, some understated elegance. Was very proud of my seventy-something Dad, who rocked the sartorial splendour that night, Old School.
I managed to walk across the stage, not fall over (always something that’s in the lap of the Gods), shake the right hands in the right order, doff (a nice way of saying “tugging one’s forelock”), not snatch my certificate out of the DVC’s hands, and make it back to my seat without incident. There were some awards made, then we processed off, once again to “Gaudeamus Igitur” (and I knew that somewhere in the audience, my Uncle would be singing it loudly and proudly, because he’s a smart man and still remembers his Latin).
It is true that after the academic procession left they played the Star Wars theme. It is not true that as I accepted my award Dark Vader’s theme was played. Filthy slander.
Then home to our place for a family supper, and I was FINALLY allowed to unveil the graduation cake Mum and Sis had made for me. The book is the cake, not the lovely statuette. And then I flensed it. Behold!*
And so it is done. The floppy hat has been worn.
*For my birthday next year I have requested the Eye of Sauron cake.