aNNyway, yesterday morning I went to my first ever 'Commencements' in Trinity College Dublin. TCD is by far the oldest university in Ireland, and they are hot for tradition, archaicism, and dressing up medieval. The real name of the institution is The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin. They call the terms Michaelmas and Hilary rather than Winter and Spring, the boss is a Provost rather than a President and graduation is called Commencements not Graduation or Conferring because leaving Trinity is seen as a start rather than a finale. This was all explained by The Registrar as a warm-up to the ceremony proper. She also explained that the entire ceremony would be rendered in Latin! making the claim that when TCD was founded in 1592, Latin was an all-inclusive lingua franca which could be used for dialogue whether you came from Bologna or Bristol. Hmmm, true-dat but it is now 425 years later and nobody - nobody - in the room was fluent in Latin so using that language was now exclusive and alienating. Ironically, for inclusivity, Trinity employs a signer for the hard-of-hearing, so the deaf understood better what was going on than the rest of us. And no, the signer isn't fluent in Latin either: he's working off an English translation - although probably using Irish Sign Language not British [big difference].
I was in TCD because one of my project students at The Institute went on to do her 12 week work placement internship in my old Comparative Immunology lab in TCD and stayed on to work up the project [on olfactory receptors in dolphins] for a M.Sc. She stuck at it and wrote it all up and was in medieval clobber [a snip at €40 for a couple of hours] to Commence the rest of her life.
Now here's an important multicultural issue that is buried in the use of a
last Sunday in Cork two hours had passed and I noted that a crowd, fat with photographers, was gathering again in Front Square. Turned out that Bob Geldof was getting a celeb Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. Other important people [see above with President Mary Robinson] were also getting tribbed. When the procession trooped past, the paparazzi called "Bob, Bob" and Geldof turned to the cameras to wave. Me-the-Bob muttered to Dau.I " My Public, my Public". The nearest photographer rounded on me and said "You cynical old man . . . but I do agree" and went off to his next assignment. As must I.