Becoming a Master of Arts


Today I graduate to the degree of Master of Arts.

I will don my academical gown, and my ceremonial hood, straighten my white bow-tie, wonder if I have correctly guessed how on earth the ‘bands’ are supposed to be worn, and — after some ceremonial luncheon at Churchill College — make my way to the University’s Senate House

Now, some might say that the Cambridge MA graduand is nothing but
a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it [ie. the degree] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

And it has to be granted that I have done nothing, other than remain alive, to earn this Masters degree that was not required for the Bachelor of Arts degree which I have already received. I had been under the impression that I was required to remain out of prison (duly done!) but even this turns out to have been superfluous — or at least, I wasn’t required to show or even state that I had not taken a recent criminal turn.

And perhaps I have some unspoken sympathy with those who would belittle this academic title (which, it surprisingly turns out, is of ceremonially superior rank to the other Masters degrees — such as ‘of Philosophy’, and ‘of Finance’ — for which one actually has to work) — for the record will show that I have taken my sweet time in actually registering for the ceremony which is a required part of the whole scheme. I was eligible for the title of ‘Master’ a good three years ago, but only now — on a sunny May afternoon, just a couple of weeks before the first birthday of my first son — will I finally receive the necessary blessing in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti to seal such an accolade unto my person.

But if there is a time for everything under heaven, then perhaps as well as there being a time for entering unseen into the secret place, there is also a time for pomp and ceremonial circumstance.

At any rate, God seems to have brought the pieces together to make today a memorably celebratory occasion — Granny and Grandpa are able to join us at Churchill College for the Praelector’s Lunch, from which we will proceed to the Senate House for the ceremony itself. And once that is over, Jean-Paul and Ellie — who happen to be in Cambridge this evening — are taking us out to dinner. My wife’s wise words: “I think God’s affirming what you’ve chosen to do after graduation!

In which case I suppose this honour is not to be sniffed at!



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