The Fighting Beckets

One of the first things I learned about British universities was that they don’t have mascots. The Cambridge Bulldogs don’t square off against the Oxford Crimson. One of my friends at the University of Reading asked me, “What’s that big bird thing?” when he saw a photo of me with Big Jay. This fact of life seemed to amuse my father.

Candle marking the site of St. Thomas Becket's murder.

Candle marking the site of St. Thomas Becket's murder.

My dad asked me what the University of Kent’s mascot would be. We settled on the Fighting Beckets, a nod to St. Thomas Becket, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. It’s kind of hard to talk about Canterbury without mentioning the massive cathedral.

I’ve seen my share of European churches — St. Patrick’s, York Minster, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, St. Stephen’s, Notre Dame, the Berliner Dom, Florence’s Duomo — but Canterbury is special.

In July 2011, I’ll have my graduation ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral. After my raucous graduation from KU last May, it’ll be a big change in tone. The campus of my graduate school, the University of Kent, is right up the road from the cathedral. It’s daunting to have such an important even in my life tied to a building and a city that’s centuries old.

Interior of Canterbury Cathedral.

Interior of Canterbury Cathedral.

I’m excited to go back to Canterbury (I visited three years ago when I studied abroad in Reading) and explore it more. I’m lucky that I’ll get to attend the school I wanted, and be only about half an hour away from London. It’s worth sitting out a year to have that experience.

And I know that whenever I go into the centre of Canterbury, I’ll be able to look up and see the cathedral.


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