On Saturday morning Emily dropped by for a visit, and we went shopping in the town. [I have a photo of us outside Great St Mary's, but not her permission to publish it.] She drove us down to the town centre, but the traffic was terrible. When there, we went to the market and bought presents and a pack of what turned out to be the least effective AA batteries ever for my camera; they failed after the first photo.
We went into the porter’s lodge. “I’d like to hire a BA gown for Commemoration, please,” I said. “Certainly,” said the porter, “that’ll be ten pounds.” I’d somehow expected it to cost rather more. He handed over the gown, and my room key and the programme for the evening, while Emily chatted to him. I looked up and said, “Um, this is a master’s gown.” “Never mind,” he said, “nobody’ll know and you can keep a bottle of wine in the sleeves.”
Emily drove me home; the traffic was even worse. Tea on the college lawn began at four and it was almost five by the time we’d reached my house. She dropped me off, and I got changed into soberer clothes (not evening dress yet), and caught the bus back into college. A few members were still there and the staff in their college livery were still serving coffee; I thought nobody would still be around, but I ran into a former housemate of mine straight away.
When we’d chatted for a while I went up to my room in Hobson Court, and found I had everything except the key. It was back at Kirsten and Colin’s house. I went back down to the porter’s lodge and explained.
“We do make a charge for lost keys.”
“It goes to Rag.”
“It’s a pound.”
“Thurman, isn’t it? You’re the one with the attractive sister?” Emily, be proud.
I ran back down and then gingerly paced into the chapel. I’d missed the part where the Master reads the list of all the dead benefactors, but there was a choir there who were singing Latin anthems in tight harmony. I sat and listened and thought about how much I’d forgotten I’d missed the chapel and even the smell of it. It amused me a little that even though this service is the official reason for the whole reunion, only about a dozen people were in the chapel out of around a hundred attending the reunion. This is often the way, that an unimportant part of something becomes the main part and the old centre begins to vanish away.
After chapel I had to get batteries. I ran out into the street and across to Sainsbury’s. Stop staring at me, for heaven’s sake, you’ve seen a bloke in academic dress in a supermarket before. I found a pack of AAs and then queued for a rather long time before I could get back up into the Master’s lodge and try to find all the old classmates I hadn’t seen for so long. Most of them have now become programmers, I think, and “Are you on Facebook?” is the question everyone’s asking one another.
The dinner was wonderful, and large, and I met many old friends.
I am too tired to post a lot of details about it now, but I might later. I don’t have pictures of the loving cup ceremony, because both my hands were occupied with an enormous silver cup. However, I know the person opposite and he will email me the photos. Finally, here’s me in a gown. Hurrah.