Friday, August 28
Aalto University, 15:30
I got up and showered, and then prepared myself. We had planned that I would go to Aalto on the bus and tram and change into my finery there. However, when we got up it was pouring with rain, and this simplified the plan. I got dressed formally and Irma drove me to Aalto for 10:30.
I checked in with Kirsti, met Bryan and Kevin briefly in the corridor, and went downstairs to the hall. They joined me there at about 11:00 for the official pre-meeting. Juha also joined us. We didn’t discuss the substance of the thesis at all, but talked instead about why and how I had written it, and what effect I wanted it to have. We had a sandwich and coffee, and then the ceremonial glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream from the bottle that had been provided for us.
The doors of the hall were opened at 12:00 and closed again at 12:15, and we entered. I gave my speech, which lasted 21 minutes 20 seconds, although since this included a couple of minutes of confusion at the start when the screen was not showing my slides, I could argue that I cam inside the twenty minute time limit.
Bryan then responded, and we engaged in two hours of conversation. I had been right in assuming that I couldn’t prepare for this because it covered areas well outside what I would have prepared for, and almost nothing that I would have expected. The conversation was intense, with not a lot of time for thinking. It also flowed so well that at least two people asked me later if we had practised it.
At the end Bryan proposed that the thesis should be accepted and we marched out in the same line that we had arrived in.
Now we are in the front lobby. Irma has gone to get the car to take home the extra wine and the flowers. Naa is half hidden behind an enormous bunch of oriental lilies that Aalto provided.
Nathalie and Lars will return for an hour to Arcada. Bryan and Kevin will go upstairs. Same will walk home. Jutta and I will have one beer in the pizza parlour opposite. Sam Inkanen will order a taxi when everyone has gathered again at 16:45.
At 17:00 we will meet Irma and Naa at Wanha Mylly where we will spend a wonderful evening eating, drinking, and talking. Irma had suggested the restaurant and made all the arrangements, and I will be extremely grateful to her. It will be one of those rare occasions where most people will leave thinking that it simply couldn’t have gone better.
For the three of us the only thing that would have improved it would have been leaving with Auo in full flow, wondering out loud when we were going to go to America to see Bryan.