Saturday, 11 October 2008

Dress code

I have been invited to Formal Hall at another college. It is a great honour, and I am looking forward to it. The only problem is that at this particular college gowns are required at Formal Hall. I have no gown because we have no such tradition in Sweden, and anyway it has to be a Cambridge gown. It is all very complicated. There are regular gowns and Scarlet Day gowns that are more festive. However, I have neither. And I have no idea whether I am allowed to wear a gown at all.

I consult the Faculty secretary who forwards the issue to the Pro-Proctor for Ceremonials. The message is, "as a Professor here, you are entitled to an MA Status gown (without strings)".

I look up gowns on the University Shop website, and they have such a variety that I get dizzy. You can rent a gown, and you can buy one for a substantial, but not unsurmountable sum. I have many times, letting my imagination flow beyond all reason, pictured myself in a gown.

By the way, I have worn an academic gown once. When I had by inaugural lecture at the University of Worcester as an Honorary Professor, the person in charge told me that they couldn't find a robe from Stockholm University to rent for me. She was astonished when I told her there wasn't any such thing. They got one for me anyway, from Coventry as it turned out, and lo and behold! it was blue and yellow, the Swedish colours.

Appropriately robed

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