Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

“It’s a Matter of Degrees”

Saturday was a day of pomp, pageantry, overblown ceremony and eccentric costume. No, not the Eurovision Song Contest (which, I am given to understand, coincided). The Downing MA Ceremony. The event, ten terms after graduation, was treated by most primarily as a reunion, and it is the first large-scale one I have attended. Given the size of our year, inevitably there were some I would have loved to see who were unable to make it, along with a few I was happy either not to see or simply to avoid. Catching up with the remaining 95% was fantastic, though I do wish I had been able to speak more with various people — particularly several of the lawyers.

I found the ceremony itself far more enjoyable than my actual graduation. It was not, as the Master suggested, because I could not properly take in and remember it, though it is true I was far more relaxed this time around. Rather it is that, straight after third year exams, I was acutely aware of exactly what it had required and I was quite ready to escape the myopic pressures of Cambridge academic life for a while.

College put on a decent spread at lunchtime, and a fantastic dinner in the evening which instantly transported everyone back to any number of raucous formal dinners: pennying and all. The inebriated group moved en masse to the bar, which we seized (presumably to the irritation of the current students). Surprisingly I didn’t have to fend off suggestions that clubbing at Cindies was somehow a Good Idea (I had expected many would still be labouring under the misapprehension that, at some point in time, it was).

Amusingly today I discovered, during the traditional tea-making What I Did On My Weekend chat, that two other people from my department were also up in Cambridge over the weekend to attend MA ceremonies for family/partners at other colleges. The world is still shrinking.

Rules I (re)learned this weekend:

  • Do not drink and make speeches (no names).
  • Downing Gravel is always worse than you remember: do not bother polishing your shoes beforehand.
  • The lamb of the person sitting next to you will always be better cooked than yours, but it doesn’t matter because if you are correctly seated you will get to eat theirs as well anyway.
  • Be nice to nearby teetotallers: they have more wine to give away.
  • Do not drink and make speeches (okay, Ravi).


  1. It was good to see you too :-) Roll on the free dinners!

    The first half of my photos are here:

    I’m accepting bribes not to publish the rest coughRavicough

  2. Very efficient with the photos! I neglected to thank you and Sonya in the post for putting up (with) so many of us. I certainly look forward to starting on those free dinners…

  3. Eeexcellent. Glad to see I managed to escape the camera. Because I was a model of restraint. Obviously.

    Love the captions.

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

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