Sunday, 4 July 2010
As the long ranks of students marched onto the stage to be capped by the Chancellor, James Naughtie, I found myself trying to compute the combined intellect and effort that had gone into the four hundred or so degrees being conferred. We all laugh at the stereotypical student lifestyle, but I've witnessed the amount of hours and work she put in, the tears and frustration when things weren't going well and the pure joy and relief of a high mark. Whatever benefits they get from their effort are thoroughly deserved.
I was hugely proud when Nikki received her degree, but the moment was also touched by a certain sadness because it means she'll soon be leaving home, and, if I'm honest, guilt. Why hadn't I ever achieved what she just had?
I've never felt handicapped by the fact that I left school with six of what were then called 'O' levels. When you're in a working environment and there's a deadline to hit, nobody's bothered if you went to university as long as you put in the hours and you're good at your job. I could probably argue with some justification that, at the time, in the early 70s, people from where I came from, with my background, just didn't expect to go to university. Then again the sixteen year old me was hardly a paragon of work and ambition. As it is, I've been incredibly fortunate in my career and my life. But just lately I've been wondering: what if?
Would I be a better writer and storyteller if I'd been subjected to the intellectual rigours of university? Would I have written at all? I suppose the answer is that I'll never know and maybe that's for the best.
One thing I don't need a degree to work out: thunderstorm + Victorian house = leak in roof.
Where's that bucket?