Shall I talk you through the end of my student life? Actually, not quite the end, but as I drove onto the campus at 7.30 a.m. on the day of the final exam, I thought it might be my last visit. Then I met one of my fellow students, who reminded me that we have to submit our coursework portfolios and I hadn't brought mine. So I'll have to make the trip at least two more times: once to deliver it, and once more to pick it up again and/or attend a viva. I haven't signed up for the graduation ceremony.
The night before the exam I had the worst night that I can remember, with about 3 hours uninterrupted sleep followed by about 3 hours dozing and wishing it were morning. On campus very early, because with a 9 a.m. exam I have to leave at least an extra hour in case of trouble on the motorway - missing the start of a lecture isn't usually a problem; missing the start of an exam is unthinkable.
I was pretty tired, and at about 10.30 a.m., halfway through the exam, I had to mentally pull myself together and carry on to the bitter end. It wasn't a bad paper, although even at three hours they give you so much to write that there's never enough time. One lecturer pleaded with us to try and write clearly - after three hours writing non-stop my hand is so cramped that clear handwriting is the last thing on my mind.
Lunch with a friend, a meeting with my tutor about possibilities for research in future, then I drove home on nothing but adrenaline and went to bed. Since then, I have been smiling, and the best part: walking about aimlessly. I went into town, and to Warwick, walked about in the sunshine and just enjoyed the fact that there's nothing I HAVE to be doing, although of course there's lots I could be doing, and quite a bit that I should be doing.
Today among other delightful prospects, I will be treating myself to a trip to my favourite greengrocer. Last time I was there, the manager told me all about his staffing problems since he'd taken over a second shop, and the plans he had for refitting the shop, and the trouble with the tills, and his plans for a day off to go to Bournemouth. Then he gave me a hug. I wonder if all his regular customers get this treatment?