This is the way student life ends. At Trentham Gardens in Stoke, full of people, light, and above all, heat. Wednesday, the 16th of July was the hottest day in that particular bit of the heat wave (the same heat wave that is still going on as I type this, nearly a month later). And there was me having to suffer through in not just a suit, but a load of other crap as well. Oh, joy.

The day started well before then, however. We were on the road at a respectable hour, stopping for lunch at a pub in Trentham itself which served carvery sandwiches. For the uninitiated, some English pubs have a carvery, where a roasted joint of meat is freshly carved, and you add your own vegetables, potatoes, gravy and so on. A carvery sandwich, as I found out, was simply said meat parked between two very thick slices of bread, along with gravy and trimmings, for half the price of the normal carvery. Needless to say, this was good.

For comfort of travelling, I changed into my suit at the pub and we moved on the minute's drive to Trentham Gardens, getting there with plenty of time to spare. Too much time, as it happened. The ceremony for the School of Sciences was just starting, and the place was crowded. After some wandering and the first stages of heatstroke setting in, I was allowed to sign in. The way things were set up, everything but the ceremony itself was held in large, unventilated marquees. The only protection they provided was from the sun, and even then the temperature inside them was no benefit. But enough of complaining, on with the show! Because I was among the first to register, I collected my cap, sash and gown from the rental tent first-off, having seen the size of the queue beforehand. Then straight to the photography tent, where I got the official photo taken with the plastic cylinder which acted as a mock-degree certificate. The photographs came in the post earlier this week, and I have to say they don't look too bad. My hair's frizzed from the temperature and I have the trademark glazed "serial killer" look, but they are good. Unfortunately, I have no scanner so the rest of you are going to have to deal with the pics below.

With everything official out of the way it came to checking in with everyone else I know. Wookie was there, in a suit and tie no less. The guys from Germany were mostly there... well, the drunken ones were at least. Steve and Rich and Howie and Mike were there, and in general I had a chance to catch a sit down in the shade of a marquee and see if I could spot people I knew for half an hour. Then, after figuring out what was going on, everyone headed over to the main building and stood in line for half an hour to get in, as the ceremony was soon to begin.

Let's face it: Graduation ceremonies are for the parents. A couple of reasonably short speeches which made us feel like we should be putting on cape and tights and saving the world, then on with the litany of reading out the names of everyone that was graduating in turn, so they can go up and shake hands with the Dean and Vice-chancellor and have parents filled with pride take photos of them doing so. Then out we trooped to get refreshments, some final photographs, and in my case to introduce my parents to Doc Dave, the guy who saw to it that I didn't crash and burn whilst doing my dissertation. Some more photos of me and Steve, the thunder starts and we decide to head off back to Hull, getting to the car just as the rain starts falling.

So much for the past four years of my life.

Image Gallery

How incredibly formal... I feel like such a tit. Me and my dad. He insisted. "The sooner I can get the fuck out of this robe, the better."
Me and Mum. With only the three of us, they had to compromise and have one pic each. Me telling Wookie just how much of a tit one looks in the robes. For sale: BatGeek action figure with real billowing cape action.
Me, the Vice-Chancellor, and the really shit photography conditions. "We'll take ladies to the left, booze to the right." The official end of an era.