I guess in the end that is what it is all about. Just once a year we get to wear our academic robes. There is something about wearing them. We feel as if we command a different presence. Do we? What is it all for this that we worked so hard?
There is always a good atmosphere at the Lowry. I opted for going there by tram from Radcliffe. I changed at St Peter’s Square – and promptly saw the Manchester University graduates coming out of Bridgewater Hall. A great atmosphere there, too.
The tram was packed. Lots of people were on their way there to the same ceremony. Just as we arrived – and it’s a decent work form the nearest tram stop to the Lowry Theatre – it started to pour with rain. Yet it was so warm and windy that by the time we all arrived and it had stopped raining for just a couple of minutes, we were dry again.
Then there was the usual struggle to get the hoods to look good and the hats to stay on. This year we were offered the opportunity to remove our hats once seated on the stage. We took this up: it can get uncomfortably hot up there under the theatre lights.
There is something quite thrilling about the actual procession. It is good too, watching your students come up and receive their degree certificates. I do fear for some of the girls, though, in their very high heels.
The ceremony yesterday was short enough, despite a huge number of students graduating. One spotted me and waved just before she picked up her certificate. We shared our ceremony with another school and they had some very lively students. Applause was particularly enthusiastic for some of our African students.
Afterwards we try to catch them on the way out. They escape us. I did find five, including one of our MA graduates. I had my photo taken twice. Again, it feels different as you talk to them when both you and they are in academic dress. And the sun did continue to shine as we spilled out on to the concourse in front of the Lowry.
I can quite honestly say that that was the second nicest degree ceremony I’ve ever been to. The best was my own, when I received my Ph D, in Bangor, July 2007.