A familiar face greeted me in the ante-room. Staring out from an otherwise featureless wall was a self-portrait of my grandfather’s cousin Willie Conor. The absurdity of his foppish bow tie seemed to mock his dour Presbyterian countenance and somehow managed to reflect the absurdity of my own situation. Unable to find our seminar room I had ambled aimlessly the length of the Mall for 15 minutes before realising that the University had secret compartments where the great and the good dwell. There-in was I to be inducted.
Following the novelty of registering as a student on my 53rd birthday (on Monday) today had the feeling of the whole PhD business starting in earnest – albeit in a little chaos. I was surrounded by bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, tech-savvy youngsters – hipster and nerd jostled for space in a multi-cultural babble of 14 languages and the confidence of youth. I found a seat at the edge; not so near the front that I would draw attention to myself, not so far back that I couldn’t hear the speaker or see the board. Interactive. White.
‘Cousin’ Willie’s chalk and crayons were nowhere to be seen yet his familiar face seemed to say “It’ll be all right – just go for it!”