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College Gaudy

On Saturday there was a Spring Gaudy at my Oxford College for my year and the two years above me. This is a once-every-ten-years black-tie dinner when we get invited back to Balliol to meet our contemporaries, and (of course) get asked for donations to support the College. It was the first really big formal dinner I’ve been to since Chris died, and I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. You have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to get the most out of such occasions, and I simply wasn’t. I was in fact feeling rather antisocial. I was also fighting off a stinking headache, so I was going easy on the alcohol, although at least that meant I avoided the hangover which is invariably induced by the College Port.

Dinner in Hall at Balliol is always a grand affair. The walls are lined with portraits of famous and/or distinguished alumni (all men of course which riles the feminist in me!). I was sitting facing pictures of Harold Macmillan and Roy Jenkins, and you could almost feel the continuity of history over the centuries since the college was founded 749 years ago. The food seems to have improved somewhat since I was there as a student, but the biggest change I noticed was that the student rooms have been refurbished and redecorated, and now have telephones and central heating. I suppose if they are being charged fees, the students expect greater comfort and more facilities than in my day. I had a two-bar electric fire in my room and phoned home once a week from a payphone.

It was good to go back and catch up with people, and I was glad I’d made the effort as I’m sure it will have done me good. But, apart from a few whom I see regularly anyway, most of the people there were not my particular friends from my time at college, but rather people on the edge of my social circle whom I knew vaguely but was not then, and still am not now, particularly interested in.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. pauld | 21 March 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “telephones and central heating”

    Whats the world coming to, kids today !