Saturday was a lovely day, catching up with JW and SG, whom I hadn’t seen together for getting on for around 17 years (it was SG’s 40th birthday party and we are all going 57 this year…). JW initiated the idea that we should get together and stay at hers, whilst going along to our College reunion this evening. This is the first time that my year group and their year group have been together (along with the year above me - in which we also had mutual friends). It made for a rather large, unwieldy and apparently massively oversubscribed event, bringing three year groups together for the first time, to celebrate 40 years since the ‘oldest’ group had matriculated.
After a lazy breakfast, we headed off to Grantchester (of the Meadows fame) to give Roxy a walk and us some fresh air. I was still a bit handicapped in both speed and distance terms, but I managed part of the walk at least. (Much later on in the day I decided that the taping of the toe was now causing more problems than it was solving, and I removed the tape. But that was only after suffering quite a bit through the course of the evening….Oh well. Taping the toe down seems to have given the joint a bit of leeway to recover and it’s now much less sensitive, but by Saturday afternoon it was the taping that was causing me problems, not the metatarsal joint. I wish I’d realised earlier). A drink at the Green Man, lunch at home, and a snooze in the garden later we put on our gladrags, took the obligatory selfie, and headed into College to meet up with people and attend choral evensong. Group photo, drinks, dinner, speeches, more drinks, much chat later, we headed back home in a taxi, having chatted together and separately with an immense number of people, many of whom we hadn’t seen for decades.
Thus far there have been four such gatherings since I graduated. I’ve attended numbers 1, 3 and 4, having missed out on number 2 because I had a lot on my plate at the time (life-wise) and also because I hated number 1 because it felt very competitive (and I was an oddity in our cohort in already having a small child). The other oddity compared to most of my peers is that I went to university in 1979, and never left…. Both the advantage and the trouble with these sorts of events is that we all still feel 18 inside, but yet of course we are not. Old anxieties sometimes return, although in general I’m a more self-confident person than I was all those years ago. One or two people I saw across the room, and even chatted to, stirred some uncomfortable memories. The College remains a bastion of traditions, including a degree of ‘centredness’ around Christian and more specifically Anglo-Catholic doctrine of the Church of England. I guess it’s a much more diverse place in terms of gender and ethnicity/race than it was then, but obviously our year groups represent a snapshot of a former time. But at times during the evening, I also perceived that the College - despite protestations - still thinks of women as a slightly strange group of semi-humans. Yet the reply on behalf of the alumni/ae was done by one of that first cohort of women undergraduates that our three years comprised, and she sounded a much more positive and effective note than some of the other speeches, which discussed the College going mixed. The College’s records relating to the debates amongst the fellowship about going mixed are still closed, which protects the identities of those who were opposed then, and perhaps even still are ;-). Anyway, over on the right hand side there is a temporary exhibition of photographs of women fellows which has been mounted in the hall - rather better lit than the pictures of the (thus far exclusively male) Masters of the College on the left hand side. On the right hand side (out of shot) there is also one oil painting of the first woman fellow, which is - somewhat controversially - going to continue hanging in the Hall on a long term basis, after the temporary exhibition of photographs has gone. JW was able to fill me in on some of the background to that.