Yesterday was a special one for the Baldwin Family, as it was Graduation Day for Jack - first of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren to bag a degree, though his cousin Katie, having taken the alternative route of an apprenticeship,
will be taking her Finals next week. They have both done so well though yesterday, of course, was Jack’s day. Congratulations, Jack, your Grandad and I are so very proud of you!
The day before his mother, Youngest of the Darling Daughters, was in a right state as she tried to decide what to wear on such an auspicious occasion. Throughout the day her sister (Middle of the Darling Daughters) and I received a
whole string of photographs of possible outfits and were requested to express an opinion on their suitability.
She was always going to have a problem with her
chosen stylists. The Middle of the Darling Daughters urged class and style - the little black dress, with black opaque tights and black wedges. This was the outfit she would wear, she advised, if attending her own son’s Graduation. Mind you, Faris the
Rascal is but six years old so fashions may well have changed by the time he graduates. For all we know orange may be the New Black. Though I admit it’s unlikely.
As for me, well speaking as one of Great Age, I was all for advising comfort at all costs. It was going to be a long, hot day with a lengthy car journey to York thrown in - decide on something comfortable that you can put on and then forget about for
the rest of the day, knowing that you look good. My daughter thinks this is a Tall Order.
Friends have told her that the accepted (if unspoken) dress code for
Mother of the Graduate is a fresh, summery dress. Which may, or may not, be comfortable but has the advantage of being as classy as you wish to make it, given the addition of what proper stylists (I believe) call “accessories.”
Most importantly, she had to consult her son who didn’t have too many ideas about what his mother should wear but was determined to exercise his Right To Veto. Whose
Graduation Day was it, anyway?
The whole What Dress Should I Wear exercise started me thinking about what I wore for the Graduation Days of each of my Foursome.
Did I go for classy or comfort? There was only one thing for it, I had to pull all the photograph albums down from the top cupboard in the front bedroom and search for answers...
There I was, at Hull University for the Graduation of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters wearing what might be called my “work uniform” - tartan skirt, blouse, navy jacket. I look quite smart, even though I had nobody to advise me
on my outfit. Fast forward a year to the Middle of the Darling Daughters’ big day at Reading University and I appear to have borrowed one of my daughter’s own dresses. I can’t remember if we had any discussion about who should wear what.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters tells me that she is pretty sure she also borrowed that same dress on occasions - it was obviously a classic.
Graduation, up at Loughborough University, I wore a blue summery dress with the ubiquitous navy blue jacket, decorated with my favourite teddy bear brooch. Three years on, for My Boy’s Graduation at Cardiff University, I had clearly got the message about
pretty, summer’s dresses, being knitted out in a mid-length pink number with a lace collar. All four photos of me are notable for my ridiculously curly hair, the years covered clearly being in my Kevin Keegan Period.
Today I have been enjoying all the Happy Graduation photographs posted on Facebook - not only those of my grandson with his proud-as-punch parents, but also those of friends’ sons, daughters,
grandsons and granddaughters plus lovely pics of my great-nephew, Benjamin, with his parents and grandparents. The ceremonies, the champagne glasses, the traditional Hurling of Hats into the air and (mostly) catching them.
I wish I could remember more about each of those days. I vaguely recall celebratory meals, helping fix mortar boards onto wayward hair (“Look at my fringe!” wailed the Youngest Darling
Daughter when I sent her a photo of the two of us together on her Big Day) and we went to an dance at Hull, where a group called Magic (later to become quite famous) played. Mr B, for his part, remembers staying overnight in a hotel in Cardiff where (he claims)
the full English (or should that be Welsh?) breakfast was the best he has ever eaten.
My memories may be sketchy but one thing is for sure and I will pass
it on to my daughter - you probably won’t remember, in years to come, what you wore to Jack’s Graduation. What you will never forget is the almost overwhelming sense of love and pride you felt yesterday.
I can still remember that today. Four times over...