Back to the Varsity

I’ve been rather remiss at blogging recently; mainly because I’m trying to finish my Patriot’s History of Britain, and because I’ve been a little ‘under the weather’. I’m surprised anyone isn’t, in view of what’s going on in the UK. But I was sort of cheered this morning by an invitation sent out to old members of my Cambridge college to stay there during the summer for £57 a night (no meals. Or ‘bedmakers’, I presume!). It’s because in the pandemic season they’ve got no conferences to take the rooms. I have conflicting emotions about Cambridge: detesting the upper-middle class and deeply sexist culture there, which ultimately led me to resign my Fellowship; but having enjoyed it tremendously as an undergraduate: not only the study, but the social life, and the Cambridge dramatics, which I was involved in. In fact, looking back, I regard it as the high point of my life. I often dream about it, from all these miles away. (‘Varsity’ in my day, of course. ‘Uni’ was plebeian.)

So I may do this, perhaps in August, during the trip I have to make to the UK anyway to check references for the book. I’m hoping that by then travel restrictions will have been relaxed sufficiently for me to fly there without quarantining (I’ve had the vaxes), and to fly back to Sweden afterwards. I don’t want to be stuck in Boris’s Britain for longer than is necessary.

Here’s a pic of my college’s ‘Old Court’ (1340s). You can just see my old room in the shadows on the right – ground floor. Above it is the roof of the Cavendish Lab, where I’m told the atom was split.

Proper blogging to resume soon, I hope.  

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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3 Responses to Back to the Varsity

  1. Neil SHADDICK says:

    I had a rare old time at Cambridge too – theatrics as opposed to dramatics – but like you Bernard and unlike you Phil, the national turn to the right and the unregenerate exclusiveness of the place – did you read about the OB connection between Trinity and Westminster School this week? – leaves me cold and I would never return, even for fifty-seven quid. If you feel at home there after however many years, where’ve you been all your life? As for sending your kids there . . . two of my four went to Sydney Uni and do you what? It’s a better place altogether

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree about Sydney Uni. I taught there briefly a few years ago. Terrific place, especially the students. Much more naturally democratic than in US universities (where I’ve also taught). How are the Sydney Swans doing now?


  2. Phil says:

    looking back, I regard it as the high point of my life. I often dream about it, from all these miles away

    I’ve never dreamt of Cambridge, but I did have a peculiar experience once when I went back and stayed in a college room (my son was having an interview at another college, and the alumnus room rate made it as good a choice of accommodation as any). Simply, I felt at home, with a blissful intensity that I seldom if ever feel when I am at home. Indeed, I doubt that I felt like that as an undergraduate – certainly not all the time. I think perhaps it was the age of the buildings – there’s a “rightness” about being in really old surroundings, not unlike the pleasure of walking by a river or otherwise amid nature.

    Liked by 1 person

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