King for a day…

There comes a point in the life of a doctoral student where the weight of the thesis becomes so unbearable that the mere sight of it leads to a state of nausea.

Then life moves on slowly and sooner or later, it becomes possible to say the word ‘thesis’ again, without any visible signs of discomfort. I am gradually making my way into the latter territory, and this weekend marked the passage of a key event in this healing process, graduation day.

At Oxford (and elsewhere, of course), this is a big thing. My brothers stole my camera for most of the day and took some jolly pictures.

Here are my favourites:

Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, the Sheldonian, is one fine piece of architecture. So grand that it can only be used for classical concerts, lectures by distinguished professors and ceremonies conducted in Latin, like graduation.

It was truly awe-inspiring to walk through the doors with good friends and fellow graduands, dressed appropriately for medieval tomfoolery.

The Sheldonian is everything Arne Jacobsen’s Catz is not. My favourite room is the Senior Common Room, where all the dons and a few lucky students can leisure around as they please. Like the rest of the college, it affords an ambience of perfection and tranquillity without the clutter and pretence of its medieval peers.

Jacobsen was an eccentric dictator like no other (think ‘governance’ a la Belarus), and this building serves as a prime example that designing by committee is not always the way forward.

On this special day, the SCR formed the backdrop for the ceremony briefing; when to bow and when to say our bit. In the meantime, the sherry went down remarkably well.

The main point of the ceremony itself is taking the oath, ‘Do fidem’ (I swear, Insallah, Ama’r Halshug). ‘Do fidem’ confirms the graduands’ allegiance to the University and its interests. We entered the building wearing sub-fusc and, following admission, re-entered flying full colours.

I love the stalker in the background of this picture. All these years and the creepy bugger has been sitting there, just waiting to sneak himself into the frame of someone’s graduation picture (‘the mortar board is mine, sicko!’).

And, not unsurprisingly, supper was good too…

The morale of the story? Days like this only come around once in a lifetime.

PS. All pictures available on my Flickr page.

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