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My overwhelming feeling was that I had wandered into a Rembrandt painting. The same Dutch faces, the same gowns and hats, the same slanting light. But this was 2007, and the occasion was to celebrate (if that is the right word) the retirement of Jan van Gijn, neurologist, writer, researcher, Editor of the Dutch Journal of Medicine. In the robing room I was embarrassed to find that I was the only one wearing a scarlet academic gown (as is the custom in most UK universities), while the Dutch professors were mostly all in black, in Utrecht their faculties indicated by a kind of small coloured barcode on their sleeve. Rembrandt would have had to ask his assistant for some brightly coloured paint if I had been in the picture. And then the procession, a short distance to the Dom Kerk in Utrecht, the highest church tower in Holland, built in the 14th century, where we found—high above us in the pulpit and to the sound of the organ—Jan van Gijn looking rather sternly down on the audience gathered far below him, …
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