At my residential College at university we had a very sweet principal who was very correct in speech and behaviour. She also had the mesmerising ability to ask my friends and I to do things in a way that we had absolutely no ability to frame a negative response to her request.
Each week we had a Formal Dinner to which we wore academic gowns over 'suitable' clothing (although an academic gown can cover over a multitude of sins as long as you were sure to don appropriate footwear and drag a comb through your hair - oh, and make certain to hold the open front of the gown together at all times).
Unlike other meals it had a specific starting time and we filed in and stood behind our chairs awaiting Grace, and the tutors (senior residents), principal, and any guests were served by the staff at the High Table (which actually was not in fact any more elevated than the other tables, but tradition dictates that a university college should have a special table called the High Table at which sit the more important personages).
Members of the High Table were also served after dinner mints with their coffee afterwards. The only time in my life that I have regularly drunk coffee was during my two years as a tutor, and only because I love after dinner mints.
Each week there would be some formal elements, such as a speech by a guest; Grace and Returning Thanks; and messages for the student body as a whole.
And at the second last Formal Dinner each term our beloved principal would start the proceedings by carefully intoning "This is The Penultimate Formal Dinner for this term..." before she said Grace.
That's the way I see it in my head - capital 'T', capital 'P', capital 'F', capital 'D'. That was the title of the second last Formal Dinner for the term - "The Penultimate Formal Dinner". For every one of the 20 terms I stayed at college. You could have taken bets on the fact the name would be used, except that you wouldn't get anyone to bet against you.
It's really the only context in which I've ever heard the word 'Penultimate' used. Ever.
We had a church meeting today, following a BBQ lunch to which we were asked to bring either a salad or a desert. I decided to sacrifice some of our last mangoes to treat our friends. Most of them were chopped up and frozen and now I was onto the last crisper-full of fresh ones.
As I selected the second last mango from the crisper to top up my plate I carefully intoned, "This is the Penultimate Mango for this season."
What are the chances that I'd give up my college memories?
... Approximately None.
I'd love to hear any comments from old college chums if you happen to read this post. Or anyone else, really. Comments are great. Just click on the "So-many Comments" below, then write away!
Over the post-end-of-year hump
2 days ago