Tag Archives: Caryl Phillips

A day of goats and Wellingtons and Norwegians

They saw me coming. The scaffolding was up in the McEwan Hall, although it was hard to spot with their clever hiding of the fact. Even Son’s tutor, who sat right underneath it, failed to see how perilous his position was.

The McEwan Hall scaffolding

It was time for the long awaited Masters graduation ceremony on Tuesday morning. All of us had tickets this time, and the Resident IT Consultant only missed the turning once on the way there, and we did get to see the new – and rather idle – trams as we whizzed past. Also happened to notice there are such things as Panda packages. I am guessing it’s a hotel package which somehow involves meeting the famous pandas.

Caryl Phillips

These days they hand out Honorary Doctorships to failed (i.e. never-quite-made-it) lavatory attendants. That is a Good Thing. Just think; if Caryl Phillips had not been turned down by the Princes Street public toilets, he might never have written all those things he has written, or taught in all those fancy universities, or got his Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from Edinburgh. I imagine the toilet people felt he was over-qualified. Oxford degrees can have this effect on people.

I’m glad they happened to have a writer for the Honorary thing on my day. Seems very suitable. (And he’s a very good looking man…)

Graduation 2012

OK, back to eldest Offspring. It was his day, really, and his turn to be bashed on the head with that funny hat, which by some miracle is now not orbiting Earth, but instead has a piece of velvet which has travelled in space sewn inside it. If the Vice-Chancellor’s tale is to be believed.

Susan McGregor

Nice ceremony, with the right amount of speeches – i.e. not too many – and musical interludes of a tolerable kind. And did you know you can even get an MSc in Creative Writing? Perhaps I had better look out for these students in the book world in the future.

The Vice-Chancellor

Then it was on to drinks next door, with Son boldly smuggling us all in. I was introduced to Danish tutor Bjarne Thomsen who has an interest in children’s books, and also emeritus Dr Helena Forsås-Scott, who told me about various recent events to do with Swedish/Scandinavian children’s books. We discovered we had attended the same university which, judging by her accent, didn’t surprise me.

We repaired to a nearby Italian restaurant for (what wasn’t) a Goat Wellington, and some other nice food. Once outside again, we were waiting for the Resident IT Consultant to bring the car round, when we were chatted up by a silver-shoed Norwegian man, who had no idea that the new translator he suggested would need a working knowledge of Norwegian, actually had precisely that. We giggled and fled into the car when it turned up.

To make sure we would be driving back during the busiest part of the rush hour, we allowed Son and Dodo to make us tea and coffee at their flat, although we didn’t actually have room for yesterday’s leftover cookies. We showered Son with hand-me-down books which might conceivably turn out to be of assistance with the translating. (It’s not as if I will ever look at them again.)

It’s hard work, this academic stuff. Even for the lazy by-stander.