Plymouth University kindly invited me to their Degree Ceremony. As always these days, my mind immediately filled with logistical enquiry about how long it would take to get there, and whether there would be any trains at all. But some time later, I found myself stepping out onto Plymouth Hoe, marvelling at the beautiful sea sights, with several important looking ships sailing back and forth from the vast Navy base one cove up the bay. The University had impressively set up its temporary graduation marquee right on the sea cliff, making for a most memorable day for us all.
I felt particularly proud to receive my honorary degree alongside the graduates of Plymouth's Institute of Education. So many specialist areas were represented - amongst them I'm glad to say, primary and secondary music teaching - with the majority of graduates already in employment. It was indeed an encouragement to see the profession as it ideally is, focused, expert and well-organised - when not fending off the latest government brainwave about the future school curriculum.
In the evening I joined Robert Taub, music director of the University's Arts Institute in a discussion at the impressive Roland Levinsky Building. Bob and I couldn't get over the fact that we had last worked together 42 years ago at Glasgow's great Musica Nova festival, and it seemed like not a day had passed since then. Doing music really allows you to time travel. It speaks a lot for this lively institution that the event was attended by students (how rarely that happens) and also by the Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor sitting in the front row. Phew! As music lecturer Dr Nuria Bonet pointed out, Plymouth's may be the only British music department that's currently getting bigger.
And it figures. Particular hats-off to the whole institution for being only the second carbon neutral university in the UK, with net zero the next goal.