Now I am a proper Cantabrigian, a college Fellow. I have repeatedly tried to explain to outsiders why this is important, and failed. So just trust me. It is important, essential, fundamental, imperative. Yesterday, I was sworn in and officially accepted.
I haven't done anything similar since I joined the Soviet scouts ("pioneers"), which was mandatory and therefore nothing to contemplate. "I hereby promise..." I suppose all oaths have been copied from some early model.
There were five of us, we were asked to wear gowns, all other Fellows were encouraged to wear gowns, and most of them did. I had learned the oath by heart and practiced, which as it turned out wasn't necessary, since we were given a card to read from. When it said "YOUR NAME" you weren't supposed to read "YOUR NAME" but your name. Then the Principal shook your hand and welcomed you to the Fellowship. You had to write your name (not "YOUR NAME") in a book. Then the Principal said: "Back to business", but someone pointed out that there was champagne served to toast to the new Fellows.
The business was a half-awayday, which was called something else, to distinguish from the Faculty. With my double loyalties I must now be careful to keep to the right vocabulary. In fact, when I had a query at the Porter's Lodge the other day, they asked prompty: "Are you College or Faculty?" Now I am Faculty and College.
As a pure coincidence, later in the evening there was a matriculation dinner for new HD students. (No, not high density, but higher degrees). Matriculation means that they sign a pledge, with quite a long list of rules. They don't have to read from a card, it would take too long. And to say it in chorus, as we did in my scout past, would perhaps feel wrong. The teachers were invited as cheerleaders. As usual, there were first drinks at the Combination Room, but not sherry, just wine. (Sherry is a professorial drink, Staffan says). Very festive dinner at the Hall, finished by a ceremony I haven't yet experienced. Homerton College has a drinking horn, prettily set in silver. The ceremony is to hold the horn, bow to you nieghbour and say something in Anglo-Saxon. As opposed to Latin in other Colleges. The neighbour replies in the same, drinks from the horn and passes it on.
Unfortunately, the ceremony this year was purely virtual because of swine flu.