Yesterday both K. and I graduated. And, while we didn’t sit side by side, we were both putatively among the benches reserved for St Hilda’s. Those who have been following the news about Oxford’s only single-sex college (still, just about) might feel my graduation from the place is a little presumptuous. However, while I was filling a space that opened up on the Hildabench, I graduated as Wadhamite to the core. This meant that, at the lunch afterwards, my certificate was suspiciously absent: “in the post.” I was compensated for my lack of official paperwork by becoming a minor celebrity at the college for a day, no doubt for political reasons as much as those of mere novelty.
But I’m endebted to tutorial offices at both colleges for engineering what seemed like an entirely seamless departure from normal rules. If only the St. Hilda’s lodge hadn’t been staffed by summertime idiots that insisted none of our gowns had turned up then we would’ve been gloriously happy from start to finish.
As it was, though, we managed to spend the day immersing both our sets of parents in the mixed waters of student life: literally, at one point, when both mothers sat down in the sloshy mud that populates punts that have been out in all weathers. At least my mother-in-law didn’t fall into the river when she ran out of presence of mind between stepping into the punt with one foot, and stepping into it with the other. But, all things considered, it was a fine mix of the experiences one wishes for in studenthood—daytime drunkenness, silly ceremonies and partying to the wee small hours—but spent with our combined close family, who are rapidly becoming friends almost independent of our presence.
Of course, with my hair, I was lucky that the day passed without some dusty fusterer calling me “miss.” Someone, I was sure, would mistake me for one of K’s contemporaries: probably someone on the trans- rather than cis-collegiate side of the whole affair: perhaps some proctor lately of Oriel SCR, where all women are probably still called fillies and the 1960s were a time notable for the quality of the rugby team taking a brief dive.