I feel I can finally write about this. After all, I got the certificate in the post the other day. I think that means they're not going to take it away from me.
The other day I was walking to the station with Sue, a pleasant walk along the riverbank. I remarked that this might be a nice way to start the journey to London on my viva day. Sue had to point out that I had already done my viva a few weeks before, it was in the past, no longer in the future.
It's been like that, especially for the first few weeks after.
This thing has been on my horizon for so long, a fearful ordeal to be faced in the future, a background anxiety every day of the months I spent writing my thesis. It seemed like a permanent feature of my mental landscape. When it was finally over and done, it was unexpectedly difficulty to remove it from my future and place it where it belongs, in the past. As far as my brainstem and limbic system were concerned, it was all still to be done.
Still, I think I'm finally getting over it now. Even my reptile brain is feeling more relaxed.
The viva itself was tough. A Tuesday in early April, I was in that windowless little meeting room for 5 hours. The questioning was friendly but thorough. Every little discrepancy I had hoped might go unnoticed was ruthlessly dug out and exposed, shrinking, to the light. The folks outside, waiting with the champagne flutes and snacks, were a little restless by 6pm when I finally stumbled out, ashen-faced and mute.
Looking back, I think I pretty much lost hope halfway through. With the front of my mind I was still fielding the questions, but the back of my mind was already busy assessing options for alternative employment. I wonder if the Thirsty Meeples cafe needs another rules explainer? I was a bit gobsmacked when at the end my inquisitors exchanged a glance, then turned to me and held out their right hands. "Congratulations Dr Haslehurst!"