Thursday, 2 December 2010

Trees and awards

Two remarkable things happened today, both weather related. (I guess I could have taken them as two moments in my blog marathon). First, Homerton College planted a tree. There were lots pf pictures taken, but none uploaded yet. It was a Memorial Oak, to mark, once again, the Royal Charter. Why this ceremony had been planned for the beginning of December is a mystery. Perhaps nobody had expected - it always seems to come unexpectedly - that it would be winter. Anyway, the invitations were sent out, and dozens of alumni and retired staff were coming, so it could not be cancelled. I had never before seen so many colleagues, including the Principal, wearing coats, fur caps and muffs. There we were, crowded around a large frozen hole with the tree stuck in the middle and a pile of soil on the side. The Principal took the first spadeful, and then the spade went around. Let's say it takes ten seconds to push a spadeful of soil into a hole. There were surely forty people or more. After a while, the less courageous started making their way toward Combination Room where refreshments were served. Somebody said that the hole was in the wrong place and the tree would have to be replanted.

In the afternoon, we had an award ceremony for the first Jacqueline Wilson Award in children's literature research, yet another dream come true. Jacqueline Wilson has donated a sum to be awarded every year for the best masters thesis in children's literature written at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge. What a reward for a teacher to be able to reward the best student! When I approached her I was thinking a token sum, but she was so generous! And apparently liked the whole idea. When I met her a couple of weeks ago she was full of anticipation about coming to Cambridge to present the award.

But - what a shame! - she couldn't because of adverse weather (meaning: "snow"). Instead, she sent a wonderful message to the winner, that Morag read with tears in her eyes. I felt quite sentimental myself. We had some sparkling wine, and I told the current masters students to work hard to win the award next time.

The winner's mother came all the way from Brussels on Eurostar and somehow managed to make her way to Cambridge: ironically it proved easier than for Jacqueline Wilson to come from south of London. 

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