It's that time of the year when college flowerbeds, the length and breadth of the nation, start being planted out in proud, institutional colors. Rutgers red was, when converted into petals, bearable. Cardinal and gold (for so goes the official description of USC colors) - well, let's just say that these are very municipal-looking plantings. But there are other good things about the end of an academic year, and one was this evening's award ceremony for outstanding English department students. I was most honored to speak for Julia Cooperman, whom I'd nominated (it gives me such a kick to think that she'll be in London next year, doing an MA at UCL - and then I look forward to seeing her name as a screen writer - but the whole evening was a real tribute to the talents of all six of the winners. I'm well aware that in a week's time, when it comes to seeing them graduate, that my Oxford DPhil gown is going to clash quite violently with the ghastly flowerbeds.