Comedy Column: Matriculation


I feel this comedy column has become a little too ‘annoying advice for freshers’ already, but with the subject of this next one being matriculation, I’m rather unable to shake that away just yet. Apologies to my fellow bitter minded finalists, confused others, and of course, to the freshers who undoubtedly don’t want my comic belittling.

Matriculation is one of the weirdest of all ‘Oxford traditions’, as it combines quite a few common ones whilst still having that flair of being entirely alienating in its own special way. This will likely be the first of a fair few times whilst you are in Oxford where you can enjoy being shouted at incomprehensibly in Latin by a person who’ve you’ve never seen before (unless you swatted up on all the many faces of Oxford University before your interview – if you did: why?) and will never see again (or until your graduation – my pessimism here is showing). It’ll also be the first time you are introduced to wearing sub fusc.

Sub fusc is one of those outfits which is really almost quite nice. It’s so close to being smart, one almost wants to congratulate it for trying, but in the end that just makes it more upsetting to see it mixed up with the ugliest creature known to scholarly oufitters: the commoners gown (and yes, I mean creature; those damn two arms of fabric hanging on either side of you have a mind of their own).

It is a matter of great sadness to me that I didn’t succeed in getting a distinction in my prelims. Not academic sadness, god forbid, but a sadness which comes from a vain, fashion conscious origin; the far superior flowing scholars gown I could have achieved would have been much appreciated.

My matriculation was a great disappointment. They packed us into the Sheldonian like sardines and I ended up right at the top, a position which led to my vertigo turning me into an unstable jelly for the whole three seconds that I noticed the Vice Chancellor was speaking. I had actually missed the most of the short speech which made up the whole point of this prestigious event, and I still to this day have not found out what was said to us all.

Then, I returned back to my room to write an essay, and so missed out on the drunken fun most had in the afternoon. If you plan to enjoy your matriculation to the best of its short and weird existence, I recommend you do not do anything as I did.

Image Credit: Toby Ord


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