It was daughter number two's graduation yesterday. The culmination of three years of hard study. This meant an early start for all of us who were schlepping north of Watford for the last time. We had to be there for around 9.00, so the husband, who hates to be caught in traffic of any kind, insisted that we leave at 6.30am. Driving up the M1, we got a call from my dad, who was joining us there. Now he hates traffic even more than the husband, so when he said 'I'm here love', we weren't surprised. It was 7.10am, so only two hours early. Almost a record.
Gradually, all the other family members arrived. We made our way into the hall, found our seats, and settled down for two hours of name calling (in a good way). I was sitting next to my dad, who has quite a low boredom threshold, but I was sort of prepared (more of this later).
There were various speakers at the ceremony, a couple of which who would have benefitted from a course in 'Working A Crowd' because they were so boring. After the first speaker, my dad started counting the students' names in the programme, running his finger down the lists and muttering the harder to pronounce names slowly and slightly louder than he should. He also lost his bottle of water which he had managed to kick underneath the man in front's chair, and I had to give him mine.
We clapped the first two hundred or so students as they came up on the stage to collect their degrees, and then the second speaker came on. He was marginally more interesting, but my dad, never that interested in what the banking academia have to say, was now counting the ceiling lights. One hundred and seventy apparently. He also wanted to know if there was any food afterwards, as it said nothing in the programme, and he hadn't eaten since having breakfast (as this was probably at 4.00am, I wasn't surprised he was bloody hungry).
Back to the last three hundred or so students, and he was now timing how long it took for a group of ten students to get through the process of name calling/hand shake/certificate/handshake/walk down steps. He then announced that daughter number two should be up in approximately forty seven minutes. He was also checking under his seat that his umbrella hadn't been stolen. By whom, when and how I would have like to known, but I had to lean over and ask the lady behind my dad whether it was still there, which of course it was.
Thirty two minutes later (maths was never his strong point) we were all clapping and whooping as our new BSc Hons stepped across the stage, neatly taking her certificate, smiling and walking off.
This left speaker number three and this was when my dad dropped off. I'm not sure how long he'd been listing towards my right shoulder before I noticed, but a swift poke in the ribs was enough to make him wake with a start, and he looked at me as though he didn't have a clue where he was (which he probably didn't).
It was at this point that I remembered the packet of Polo's in my pocket. I gave them to him, and told him to pass it down the line. Of course, now he had a job to do, he was alright and there was no need for further violence from yours truly.
I just wish I'd given them to him sooner...