Pomp and circumstance

July 31, 2006

Ever keen to help m’colleagues in Registry, I Spent Friday at the university awards ceremonies.

This is quite a big do these days. There are actually eight sessions across four days, presenting between two and three thousand students, so with a few guests each that’s, er, quite a lot of people all in all. The trick, then, is to get all these students through the door, register them, so we know who’s there, dress them in a gown, take a photograph of them avec proud family and then present them with their award in the presence of the great and the good of the university and city, then usher them off into a life of work with a glass of champagne (er, cava).

And what a fantastic day it is! So many happy smiley faces. Everyone is glad and so they should be. As for the staff, lots of them will have seen the students right through their university career so it’s great for them, admin and academic alike, to see their protegees graduate. Even after being on their feet for four days solid they’re still enjoying it for the most part and working to give the students the best day they can. No seriously, it’s easy to be cynical, but this is arguably the most important day for any student, and the staff know it.

We (staff) are assigned jobs for the day. Maybe on registration counting them in, maybe helping with dressing, controlling queues, marshaling late arrivals, dealing with special needs, seating the students, nodding (really), ticking, dress-check, certificate distribution. There’s loads to do.

This time I was on robing, and what fun that is. A succession of young ladies* in posh frocks passes before you and you help them on with their gowns, hoods and hats. The trick is to pass this off without awkwardness as it cannot be done without an certain amount of intimacy, albeit public, which would not be tolerated in many other situations. The hood in particular is fastened to gentlemen with a loop which fits over a shirt button, but ladies rarely have that luxury and other means must be found. Although we have in the past idly proposed a hook to clip on to that little bit of the bra that connects the cups together, no such device has been forthcoming, meaning that we have to rely on dressmaking pins.

* There may have been some young men too. I didn’t notice.

Now, the hood is pinned to the gown on each shoulder and of course to fasten the pins one has to lift it away from the skin for best (=quietest) results. So there you are, sticking your fingers down the necks of these poor people and using your finest, ahem, dressmaking skills to make them look neat. I never usually get that intimate with anyone that doesn’t live in my house. Jolly banter is required to avoid embarrassment. I’m may be making too much of this but, ah me, once a year hardly seems enough when you’re in the middle of it!

Mind you, did my legs ache when I got away? Oh yes. How the others do that for four straight days I’ll never know.

At the weekend I managed finally to finish putting up the lining paper in the bedroom and rub down (most of) the paintwork ready for decorating. It’s going to be so great to get it painted; I can’t wait. There was a point there when I thought it would never get done, but the game’s afoot Watson, and I wager it will be complete by the end of the school holidays if only we can get a man (or woman) to build us an airing cupboard round the hot water tank.

My kingdom for a chippy!

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One Response to “Pomp and circumstance”

  1. shelly Says:

    i love that fridge!


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