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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1925

Capping Day

page 10

Capping Day

capping day

The Procession

An objective examination of the psychological basis of the time-honoured absurdities of Capping Day would make a thrilling thesis for Honours in Philosophy. There are persons in the community who believe the matter settled in a few terse words of rude (extremely rude) simplicity, but they are in an apparent minority, if we may judge by the eager crowds who gather and laugh immoderately. Why do we do it? Is it to make these crowds laugh, or is it to express something in ourselves? We carry on a tradition widespread among 'Varsities; but why the tradition? Perhaps there is some excusable working of destiny in this wild assault upon accepted notions of decorum, some vivid assertion of the rights of the mental freedom resulting (or at least obtainable) from a liberal education; perhaps it is merely an essay at experience; perhaps (we but hint it), a species of reversion. However—

After a couple of years of enforced waiting, the day broke bright and clear, and wonderfully continued so. The expectant public were, as usual, much more punctual than the procession. The circus reached town (in other words, the intersection of Ghuznee and Cuba Streets) about an hour behind time, and kept such order as was consistent with its character until well past a generous collection of photographers and cinema men. The turnout was equal to the best we have seen; we have listened to some very high praises of it. There were skits upon juvenile judges, bathing beauties, bowling-green litigation, prohibition, fire-fighters, racehorses, and numerous other respectabilities which, after the manner of the student, we cannot for the life of us remember at this late hour. The fire-brigadesmen particularly appealed to us. And the super-dignified and beautifully-dressed Governor-General—let him but send his name in to the "Spike," and we will see that he obtains the next appointment. He actually looked the part!

We witnessed the beginning of the affair and the end of it. To the best of our knowledge, obtainable firsthand and from rumours, there was no incident in between that should worry the Powers-that-Be into another curtailment of this Capping liberty. In our humble opinion, the costumes of the bathing page 11 beauties could, without any outrage upon health or decency, be replaced by those of Arctic explorers; but this is possibly a matter in which economic considerations prevail. A one-piece bathing suit is certainly easier to obtain than, say, a policeman's uniform.

The speeches in the Post Office Square we will not praise. They were of the earth—earthy. The best that can be said of them is by way of excuse, that they followed what appears to be a vogue among 'Varsities. The worst we will not say, beyond that the vogue is for us exhausted: the thing has been done here before. Let it now quietly relapse into the past, before it becomes a settled taint upon the 'Varsity humour. It is good to make the crowd laugh; it is not good to make it laugh according to Freud. We but encourage those who would like the procession to disappear entirely.

So passeth this Procession and the humour of it.

Graduates' Luncheon

This noble and imposing event was this year held in Kirkcaldie and Stain's new tearoom (we believe its official name is Annexe, and that it is Jacobean). The luncheon was remarkable, indeed, unique—in that it was the first one in living memory at which a decent meal was provided and obtainable. What this means to the graduand, trembling on the brink of academic honour, no one can understand who has not been through the delightful yet terrifying experience; what it means to the graduate, mulcted not only for his own needs, but for the free feed of his brother and sister whom he delights to honour, any graduate will say. Thanks are hereby tendered to the architects and builders of the aforesaid structure of nourishment. We forget the details, but they went down all right.

Speeches were few. The President of that almost excessively named body, the Victoria University College Graduates and Past Students' Association, Mr. S. A. Wiren, proposed the toast of the Sovereign and then that of the new graduates, whom he welcomed into the fold in his own felicitous way. Mr. P. Martin-Smith (how he does keep bobbing up with new honours at these functions, bless him!) replied in his usual vein of optimistic idealism. Mr. Wiren then called on Mr. Arthur Fair to propose the toast of the College, remarking in doing so on the dizzy heights of respectability to which Mr. Fair, as new Solicitor-General and K.C., was so rapidly elevating himself. Mr. Fair replied with thanks and deprecation and then got on with the toast, recommending same to our earnest attention in a speech bright and amusing as of yore. Mr. P. Levi, the Chairman of the Council, thanked us, and after rendering the Final Chorus we dispersed in orderly fashion towards the Town Hall.

Capping Ceremony

This function, about which there seems to be less to say every year, was held in the Town Hall, which was filled to the brim with fond relatives and the merely morbidly curious, besides a phalanx of the student body (divided apparently into bridesmaids and others), on the afternoon of May 28th, after the exhausting preliminaries of the Procession and the Graduates' Luncheon. The hours of waiting were whiled away in the page 12 usual fashion with mirth and melody, and we sincerely trust the vast gathering of admiring kinsmen, etc., were amused to the same extent as the participants. The profs were ranged grimly upon the stage and the graduates, in the choir-seats as last year, did their best to look wholly at ease.

Mr. Levi then made his usual unfortunately inaudible quota of remarks, and Professor Brown rose to deliver a speech that alas, remained largely unsaid. It was broken after four minutes by the singing (with more gusto than was put into the Final Chorus afterwards) of "John Brown's Body." Professor Brown thereupon declined to continue his speech, informed the songsters that he was ashamed of them, and threatened to close down the proceedings and confer the degrees in private. This thunderbolt was countered by "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" and an evident willingness to allow the speech another airing, but the Vice-Chancellor was adamant and proceeded to confer the degrees with unoratorical dignity. The list lengthens every year and was notable this year for—we believe—the first Ph. D. conferred in New Zealand. An attempt was made to hail the graduates of the year musical-wise—a very worthy object, which we hope will meet with more success in the future than it did on this occasion. A heartbreaking rendering of the Final Chorus completed the ceremony.

We do not propose to moralise on the murdered address. Let the dead bury its dead. Apparently "John Brown's Body" will continue to be sung, and the blasphemy does not seem to us as outrageous as its reception would apparently indicate. And "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" was certainly rendered with enthusiasm and seeming sincerity.

But, O! Songs of Victoria College!

Undergraduates' Supper

The wildest, happiest, and most care-free part of the Capping celebrations was well up to the mark this year. The Supper was held on Wednesday, the 27th, when the top floor of the Rialto was the scene of some uproarious merry-making. The Committee responsible for the arrangements are to be congratulated upon the way in which everything was carried out. Sundry speeches were made, and replied to. Toasts were drunk heartily, e'en though some revellers were reduced to waving the flower vases in lieu of glasses. Miss M. Cooley and Miss T. Baldwyn added to the pleasure of the evening by recitations, and Mr. Len Daniel's songs were very enjoyable. Altogether, when the lack of edible commodities and the lateness of the hour caused a cessation of the celebrations, the participants carried away with them a longing for more.

The Ball

"It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair;
T o dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare. . ."

This graceful and glittering function took place on Thursday, the 28th May, at the Town Hall. 400 people and a representative of the "Free Lance" were present and conducted themselves very amiably. The decorations were slight but artistic, the ladies dazzling. And the supper, oh, joy! was obtainable without difficulty or disorder.