At Watford Grammar School a left leaning Head Master, Harry Ree, populated his platform with Lefties from all over the World, ruffling many Watford parental feathers.
Art Schools Annual award ceremonies are uniformly dreary. They combine default posturing with unconvincing claims what the Art School has achieved with effusions.They loudly celebrate the professionalism of the artists and technicians employed to develop their young charges. After three years of exposure to the Undergraduate courses in the UK, most students accepting their certificates were uniformly disrespectful, churlish but mainly lacking in imagination. Seldom did we see a cartwheel or a lecturer given the finger.
Over the years Art School/Polytechnics made increasing endeavours to mimic Oxbridge's crustier ceremonies. I warned several Exam Boards that one day similar invented traditions (that even extended to solemn processions thnrough the main shopping street of the County Town) might generate a response similar to Lindsay Anderson's If, when M McDowell sprayed the participants with a machine gun mounted on a roof. In the pursuit of academic authenticity anything was possibe for the ceremony. My intended Graduate gown followed the profile of Quasimodo with floppy contours to a Rembrandt beret. Neither did I attend my doctoral ceremony which promised to be another Hartnoll fashion flourish.
There is an art school in a County Town that used medieval architecture as a backdrop to the Award in pursuit of what was, in the eighteenth century called 'Bottom". Parents in unlikely hats escorting their shifty progeny in ill fitting suits into the cavernous Hall , to be confronted by the listless ranks of staff dragged from their usual lunchtime, "to be in your place by 2pm".
The previous year a Head of Department sat uneasily on a flimsy chair on the front row as befitted his status, grumbling and making obscure observations about the condition of contemporary art. He fell asleep briefly, and awoke with a curse before he found himself on the floor.
The following year it was resolved that the Head of Department would not make a fool of himself again in front of parents and repesentatives of the Local Authority. A senior member of staff was deputed to make quite sure he was prevented from attending. This was to be a two pronged strategy. Firstly it was suggested that that the lunch time drink be generously pressed on him, rendered him insensible. The second line of defence was that, well in advance of the ceremony, the door to his studio was to be kept locked with him in there. The miscreant confounded this well thought out plan by drinking everything offered him with no apparent impact on his mental and motor faculties, and by unlocking a door in his store cupboard that gave access to the main corridor.
As a result not only was the man more inebriated than he had ever been before but appeared staggering up the central aisle long after the ceremony had started. He made his way unsteadily up the wooden stairs and took his place in the front row by noisily displacing a colleague whose role was solely to fill this intended void. He gave several triumphant gestures before falling asleep. I wasn't present so my account is hearsay. I was told that the Hall emptied as he snored on his precarious perch. A sympathetic junior lecturer roused him to join the others down at the Pub.