Yesterday’s CIM graduation ceremony: Well,

Yesterday’s CIM graduation ceremony:
Well, I must admit that I was slightly worried that it might be a rather long and tedious affair. But it wasn’t, and I am really really glad that I went.
We (being me and my parents) set off early by train for Birmingham (leaving around 7am to go via Southampton) and arrived at Birmingham New Street with plenty of time – I’m glad we took the train, even though the journey home was pretty bad (late and hugely overcrowded, at least until we got past Reading), as the weather was grim and driving would have been pretty unpleasant, especially with the cold I’m still suffering with. We found the Symphony Hall easily, and I set about registering, getting kitted out in my robes and mortarboard and getting my photo taken. There are some photos we took on the digital camera too, and I’ll pick out the best one or two to put here in the next day or two (yes, new piccies for all you graypies to admire!).
By this time I’d met up with Frances, Libby, Heather and Leigh. Charlotte was running late due to a puncture, but made it on time, and I saw her briefly after the ceremony. We grabbed a bite of lunch, then hung around waiting (we had figured it better to be early than late and flustered) until we went into the hall for the ceremony.
All the diplomates were seated in alphabetical order, so I was some way from the others, but had some great neighbours in my row, and we instantly started chatting and laughing about the whole thing (hi to Veronica Staar – good luck wth finding new work, and to Claire and Debbie Spencer – there were more Spencers present than any other surname). Once we were all seated, there was some organ music (jokes about “Here Comes The Bride”) and then the CIM top brass filed in. After a couple of speeches, the presentations began, with us being filed out of the hall and back in through a stage door as each name was read out – top marks to the MC for confidently reading so many difficult and foreign names (I think he was glad when he got to our row as we were easy to say!). It’s an awfuly wide stage to walk across when you are wearing silly garb, everyone is looking at you and applauding, and you have to not fall over your own feet and succeed in smiling and shaking two people’s hands!
After we left the stage, we were given our diploma in a side room before returning to our seats. Once everyone had been presented, there were a couple more speeches (including a rather rambling one from Dianne Thompson of Camelot), before the national anthem was played and everyone filed out for a glass of wine before leaving.
There was quite a change in the atmosphere – before the event everyone had been a bit blasé about it, but afterwards, the sense of pride in our individual and collective achievements was quite palpable. There were really quite few young diplomates there – most were in their late twenties at least, and some were much older. We’d all juggled work, social and family lives to finish our diploma, and this day was the end result.
I was certainly proud. In fact, I caught myself grinning.
Afterwards, parents and I retired to a really good restaurant next door to the Symphony Hall for dinner, before heading back to the station. I certainly was very tired when I got home, but it was definitely worth it.