Ceremonial

life

One of the dubious pleasures of being an academic is the annual graduation ceremony. On the one hand, it's lovely to see the students you've taught graduating and celebrating their success. On the other, you have to sit through an awful lot of names being called out and hands being shaken. You also have to wear an academic gown and mortar board, which is downright weird when your usual attire consists of jeans and t-shirts. All Universities have different colours for their gowns, and the Oxford PhD gown is spectacularly lairy. It's bright scarlet and electric blue, so you march solemnly into the hall looking exactly like a female eclectus parrot. In a hat.

The Birmingham ceremonies are quite nicely done, and we even get a brass fanfare as we process into and out of the Great Hall. I don't know if it's a long-standing tradition, but the music going in to the Hall is usually fairly solemn and a bit pompous. The music for processing out of the Hall, on the other hand, is often hilariously (and deliberately) inappropriate1. One year we got the theme from the Dambusters, and this year -- hilariously -- it was the theme from Thunderbirds. I can't speak for my colleagues, but it was all I could do not to imitate a Gerry Anderson puppet walk, or pretend to that I was flying Thunderbird 2. Imagine that: a female eclectus parrot, in a hat, flying Thunderbird 2. You can't say that the Univseristy of Birmingham graduation ceremonies aren't memorable.

1 One thing that I love about Brummies and the ethos of the city of Birmingham as a whole is that they refuse to take themselves too seriously. There's a constant level of dry wit and self-mockery that I like a lot.

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