Under the grill

viva was unmistakable; I had sat in when a friend was being done, to spot the form; it was the same room, which I had not been into since my own viva in Greats many years ago, the same table, the lonely candidate on one side, the sombre Inquisitors on the other, courteous, considerate, anxious that the candidate should acquit himself well, but sure to notice every fallacy or error. Others, too, had sensed the likeness. ``Yes, I think the candidate passed'' one tutor said meditatively of an ennobled Vice-Chancellor; ``I think the Examiners passed too; very fair, very fair---but very searching. You had better look out.'' A blur of people, perhaps friends and supporters. Kindly, encouraging questions, some expected, some not. Balls asking to be hit for six; dropped catches---why had not I gone armed with a list of a dozen different ways in which Oxford was more up to date than other places? missed cues; fumbled answers; moments of caution; moments of over-confidence-- -``I have heard tell of a women's college where...'', biting my tongue just too late.
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