Thursday, August 04, 2005

Finale

I felt that I should delay the exciting second instalment of Puppy Genocide for now in order to relive the enthralling events of 22nd July, as, defying all known logic, reason and the rigid fabric of reality that surely demands that simplistic single-celled organisms such as myself are incapable of miraculously fooling examiners forever, I extraordinarily graduated. Uninspired as this technique is, the best way of recreating this experience is through the medium of a chronology of events:

2:15. Kate and I are presented with our robes. These are a revolting combination of black and luminous orange, ensuring that we both bear striking resemblances to queen bees. Resisting the temptation to slice off the donkey tail that forms an integral part of the mortarboard (just why the hell are we expected to wear a bricklaying aid on our heads anyway??) and spends the next three hours amusing itself and attempting to justify its entirely arbitrary existence by tickling my hayfever-plagued left eye, we move awkwardly to the auditorium.

2:30: The glorious trio of Neil, Kate and I (all our other friends bar Elly having inconsiderately graduated in the previous three ceremonies) relocate to the photography room to undergo some serial hideous embarrassment, both individual and family assisted. Oddly, we are presented with white plastic tubes to hold, all of which are curiously tied with ribbon. Images of my future self responding to requests to see my degree certificate by displaying a glorified white toilet paper dispenser float through my increasingly distressed mind.

2:45: Examing the crowd of mortarboard-clad students and idly wondering how many donkeys were massacred to make this ceremony possible, I am ushered to my allocated seat in the auditorium. I note the presence of a gigantic screen displaying the events on stage. A screen so unnecessarily huge that any kind of remotely embarrassing act on my part will be received with hearty amusement from at least 3,000 people and presumably endlessly replayed in slow motion with expert commentary analysing the exact moment when I fell over my own feet and brutally headbutted the chancellor. Since I have a reputation for performing incredibly embarrassing acts at inappropriate moments carefully nurtured from early childhood when I a) required a fire service rescue when I brilliantly trapped my arm playing a particularly passionately-fought game of It, b) fell headfirst into a pool of urine when at least 15,000 billion far superior options were open to me and c) nearly terminally impaired my breathing by inhaling nostril-shaped pebbles in a particularly retarded act of idiotic macho bravado, I am not especially confident of escaping this ceremony intact.

3:30: The ceremony commences with what appears to be a curious pagan ritual. The chancellor (Lord Richard Attenborough, best described to the ignorant as 'the bearded guy from Jurassic Park') and his educated minions perform a mysterious slow-dance as they approach the stage. Glancing at the programme in an effort to alleviate the extreme frustration this causes, I notice that the chancellor is supposedly followed by the 'University Mace', which sounds mildly alarming. Obviously failure is punished not by mere lack of permission to wear the outer skin of a giant mutated wasp and hold a glorified ribbon-tied toilet paper dispenser while wearing a bricklayer's tool attached to a donkey's tail but by some vicious public clubbing from a terrifying flesh-shredding medieval weapon engraved proudly with the Sussex University coat of arms.

4:00: After several hundred spectacularly melodramatic entrances on to stage (each student entering the stage pseudo-gloriously through Stars In Their Eyes-style smoke), I am finally nearing the front of the queue. Here, however, disaster strikes. A dressing guru is approaching me purposefully, glaring disgustedly at my hastily arranged tie and general aura of scruffy sewer dwelling former English student. Narrowly failing in garotting me, he performs an act akin to molestation on my tie, ensures that my mortarboard is in a perfect position to entirely eradicate my vision and sprays a revolting concoction of foul smelling liquid carefully selected by a team of experts from the Eau De Not Cleaned In Three Terms Student Toilette range over the rest of me.

4:15: The moment of truth is approaching with a stomach-churning inevitability. Hearing the depressingly uninspiring seven syllables that make up my name die a peasant's death on my faculty head's lips, I attempt to stride purposefully on to the stage towards a slightly bemused looking chancellor. I have the following remarkably banal conversation with the most famous person I've ever conversed with to date. ( nd no, the Muse bassist is not more famous, except in the most utterly select circles which only I am deserving enough to be in. You are not.)

LORD ATTENBOROUGH (lying expertly through teeth): Mr Jenkinson! It is an honour to meet you.
MOI (entirely baffled): Lord Attenborough. It is an honour to meet you too. Gandhi is a fantastic film.
LORD ATTENBOROUGH: Thank you very much. Thank you.
MOI: Thank you.
LORD ATTENBOROUGH: Thank you.
MOI: Thank you.
LORD ATTENBOROUGH: Thank you.
MOI: Thank you.

At this point the cringeworthy praise-fest and probably my entire lifetime ration of public fame ended with me being presented with the contents of my toilet paper dispenser and coldly kicked off stage by a high class besuited bouncer into eternal Chesney Hawkes style oblivion.

5:00: Having painfully applauded with my increasingly bruised arm appendages at least 500,000 graduates by this point, in addition to no longer feeling like a proud member of an extremely select elite I also feel like I've run a double marathon upside down with my hands. On glass.

5:15: Diamond sharpened glass.

5:30: Tipped with a lethal cocktail of Asiatic poisons.

5:45: Several decades after commencing and after several utterly baffling awards for people associated with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Society, the catch-all society to end all catch-all societies (simply add the words 'Straight', 'Bestial' and 'Sneakers' to the description and it could be the brilliantly nebulous and arbitrary 'People Society - The Society for People Who Like Sex! With Other People! And Animals! And Shoes!') - the ceremony culminates with an address from Lord Attenborough.

6:00: Having indulged in some spectacularly revolting 'free' wine ('free with your £20 graduation ticket! The juice of mouldy grapes trampled in cheap marmite flavoured vinegar!') we relocate to engage in the mortarboard throwing ceremony. Previous exponents of this curious ritual would have turned in their graves at our extraordinary collective lack of co-ordination. Throwing my mortarboard languidly into the air, I trip over my own feet and collapse into a heap while the mortarboard falls, landing under Kate's foot and brilliantly managing to trip her up in addition. All of this hilarious improvised slapstick action is caught on camera for maximum future embarrassment. Damn.

6:15: Bidding an emotional goodbye to my stalwart friends who were intelligent enough to graduate at the same time as me, I say farewell to Brighton armed with a veritable lifetime of anecdotes to entertain my future grandchildren with when they pay me their token annual visits in my nursing home. In three depressingly short years I have advanced from an 18 year old man-child with a hair problem to a 21 year old man-child with an entirely new hair problem and a degree. Extraordinary.

Ed's Mood: Melancholy

Ed's Incessant Auto-Repeat Musical Tip: Martin Grech - Dali