Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Pomp and Circumstance
Hard to believe that it's been almost two weeks since my big day -doesn't time go quickly when you are having fun (or at least busy).
December 15th was a cold foggy morning in Plymouth. The commute from Jack's house was difficult and the traffic in Plymouth was appalling. After a bit of hooligan driving and storming through a University traffic barrier (than goodness for the VIP parking permit we had for the day) we arrived just in time to get the bus to the Plymouth Pavilions where the award was being held. Plymouth has changed a lot, and mostly for the better, in the 30 years since my student days. But the Pavilions, which were probably a welcome addition to the town in the late 70s, can best be described as "naff". A leisure centre complete with ice rink and an auditorium for rock concerts: not really the best place for a dignified ceremony. Oh well...
Having collected my academic finery (and it really was nice: I now completely understand why Ede & Ravenscroft charge £800 for a DSc gown, hood and cap) I dressed up and was descended upon by numerous smiling individuals who had been delegated to ensure my well being, take my photograph or wanted an interview for the local press. I was also asked to process with the senior staff of UoP and receive my award from the stage. After much clapping (well done Plymouth, you turn out A LOT of great graduates these days) it was my turn. Being the most senior awardee I was presented to the Vice Chancellor dead last. I stood while an embarrassing list of "achievements" was read out. The certificate was presented by the VC, Roland Levinsky and also Jack which was a nice touch.
After the ceremony we decamped to the University where a pretty good lunch was laid on for the VC and other dignitaries. One of the honorary degrees was to Derek O'Neill of surf boards and apparel fame. A nice unassuming bloke considering he must be worth a Zillion dollars. Plymouth runs a well-subscribed degree in "Surf Science" and hence the connection [pseudo-political comment: I totally fail to understand how such degrees remain viable when we are closing down chemistry and physics departments right, left and centre].
All in all it was a fantastic day and I felt honoured, appreciated and respected. Definitely my 15 minutes of fame! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jack Harris and all my other mentors for helping me get this far -in fact I think I'll write a full posting to them on another occasion.