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Cambridge Alumni Magazine Issue 62 Lent 2011

In this issue:

Why fashion matters Stellar romance My room, your room Border country A degree of maturity

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CAM Cambridge Alumni Magazine Issue 62 Lent Term 2011


Regulars Letters Don’s diary Update Diary Connect My room, your room The best... History of a friendship

47 20

02 03 04 09 11

Take Three 17 Secret Cambridge 18

Review UniversityMatters 39 Debate 40 12 Books 43 13 Music 45 Sport 47 14 Prize crossword 48

Features To boldly go


Probes and physics may have replaced rocket-riding heroes, but Lucy Jolin discovers that the romance of space exploration is still very much alive.

A sense of proportion


Skinny jeans, pointed winklepickers, long (or very short) hair are not just the preserve of twenty-first century hipsters. Fashion has always mattered, says Dr Ulinka Rublack.

CAM is published three times a year, in the Lent, Easter and Michaelmas terms and is sent free to Cambridge alumni. It is available to non-alumni on subscription. For further information contact the Alumni Relations Office. The opinions expressed in CAM are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the University of Cambridge.

Editor Mira Katbamna Managing Editor Morven Knowles Design Smith Print Pindar Publisher The University of Cambridge Development Office 1 Quayside Bridge Street Cambridge CB5 8AB Tel +44 (0)1223 332288 Editorial enquiries Tel +44 (0)1223 760155

This publication contains paper manufactured by Chain-of-Custody certified suppliers operating within internationally recognised environmental standards in order to ensure sustainable sourcing and production.

Alumni enquiries Tel +44 (0)1223 760150 cambridgealumni

Border country

Advertising enquiries Tel +44 (0)20 7520 9474

Professor Caroline Humphrey explains why the apparently empty steppe of the Sino-Russian border has so much to reveal.

Services offered by advertisers are not specifically endorsed by the Editor or the University of Cambridge. The publisher reserves the right to decline or withdraw advertisements.

Preprandial pleasures

Cover photograph: 1503: Portrait of a Lady in Green by Christian Tagliavini. Copyright © 2011 The University of Cambridge.


Gold Award Winner 2010 Robert Sibley Magazine of the Year Award 2010


William Ham Bevan traces the history of sherry, among dons and students, in Cambridge.

A degree of maturity


Leaving home to go to university is a rite of passage. But what if you’re already an adult with a home (and possibly a family) of your own? Becky Allen explores the world of the mature student.

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Your letters

A fierce debate to an imaginary unseen allpowerful being? (2) The power to be intuitively wrong. Would a computer play with the idea that some of its fundamental constants might have been different in the first few nanoseconds of its existence? Would it ever flout its own programming rules in pursuit of an ideal? Cliff Pope (Clare 1969)


elcome to the Lent issue of CAM. Across Cambridge, financing and student fees are the subject of extensive and fierce debate. In advance of the University’s formal proposal being submitted to the Office for Fair Admissions at the end of March, the Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor, Steve Young, sets out the issues in University Matters on page 39. You can join the debate by emailing the University at Elsewhere, CAM examines beginnings, ends and edges: of clothing, of space and of politics. On page 24 we look at the birth of fashion; on page 20 CAM goes into space – or at least as far as the Institute of Astronomy – to ask why, when space programmes are being downsized, our stellar romance continues. And on page 28 Professor Caroline Humphrey explains why the far edge of Siberia is key to understanding Sino-Russian relations. Speaking of debate, we received a bumper postbag in response to the Michaelmas issue, with writers ranging over subjects as varied as the difference between man and robot, and the Cambridge climate. Many of you related your own memories of the Garden House riot – and reflected on last December’s student protests in Westminster. We are always delighted to receive your letters whether by post or by email: as well as the tiny selection opposite, we publish a far larger number online at Lastly, as we go to press, the closure of Fitzbillies has been announced. To share sugary memories of a Cambridge institution and mourn the end of what must surely be the stickiest Chelsea buns in the world visit

Mira Katbamna (Caius 1995)

02 CAM 62

Garden House riots

‘Older Colleges’ signs state “No”and “Do not...”. A Fitz sign states: “Bicycles may not be left here”.’ Autumnal heights I was entranced by the article on the Ural winds, and the academic and meteorological firepower deployed upon this oft-heard quip. I’m an architect and wondered whether there might also be very local factors that make Cambridge feel colder. My recollection is that King’s Parade, Trinity Street and St John’s Street are on an alignment perfectly to channel the effects at ground level of the bitterest nor’-nor’-east winds, and so to maximise the wind-chill on pedestrians and cyclists. Michael Devenish (St John’s 1984)

A man apart It seems to me there are two obvious ways that set man unambiguously apart from artificial intelligence [CAM 61]. (1) A sense of self-concern and awareness. Would a computer worry about the reasons for its own existence, its future, or whether it might owe allegiance

As Nick Emley’s Tutor at Clare in 1970, I attended the Garden House trial at the Hertford Assizes, and well remember Mr Justice Melford Stevenson’s contemptuous attitude towards students and academics alike. Some such phrase as “over-cultivated academic minds” has stuck in my mind for the past 40 years. Rt Rev Mark Santer (Queens’ 1957; Fellow and Dean of Clare 1967–72) The CAM article brought it all back for me. I was milling around at the back, trampling on the hotel garden. I’d been told that among the hotel dinner guests were Greek army officers, a direct connection, in other words, to the military junta running the country. The legacy of the ‘riot’ was largely internal to Cambridge, I think: the end of the internal policing of undergraduates by the Proctors, and the end of a time when my academic supervisor, acting then in loco parentis, could fine a student for failing to keep his girlfriend off the staircase on a Sunday morning. Philip Morgan (Queens’ 1967) The subjective, prejudiced recollections of 40 years ago did not seem to me to be wholly accurate, and the excuses or explanations or justifications

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We are always delighted to receive your letters and emails. Email CAM at or write to us at CAM, Cambridge Alumni Relations Office, 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AB. Please mark your letter ‘For Publication’. Letters may be edited for length.

Don’s Diary

You can read more CAM letters at

Professor Robert Gordon is Regius Professor of Hebrew

advanced and the lack of regret for the crimes were unpleasing and unpersuasive. On 10 November 2010 we saw more student violence, this time not even over a good cause. If you cannot persuade by evidence and argument, if you cannot persuade government to make somebody else pay for your beneficial and voluntarily chosen university education, resort to coercion and violence. What a philosophy. Alec Samuels (Magdalene 1949)

An idler’s idyll The correspondence in CAM 61 on the correct position from which to punt misses a key point. When commercial wharfs occupied the Backs, a hard gravel bed was laid on the bottom of the Cam for barge horses to walk upon in the shallow waters, which has survived to this day. This now allows the otherwise counterintuitive stance on the rear deck to be secure and effective on the Cam (unlike the Cherwell). I have to admit that on the occasion when I punted at Oxford, I did as the Romans do. Alasdair Glass (Pembroke 1964)

The best... sign Charlotte Runcie wonders about the sign that says simply, ‘No’. I hope she will find the answer a relief (relief being the operative word): the sign is aimed at the male of the species. Note the proximity of hostelries frequented by such and reflect on the queue for the Gents’, and there it is: the originators of the sign wished to convey the message ‘No, don’t even think of relieving yourself here ...’. To continue: the older Colleges’ signs state ‘No ...’ and ‘Do not ...’. However, a typical Fitz sign states ‘Bicycles may not be left here’. A wonderful ambiguity. For the student this indicates discretion. For the don, it is a negative dictum! Dr John Etherton (Fitzwilliam 1974)


his Michaelmas term I have been finalising arrangements for a one-day conference, organised by the Faculty of Divinity, to mark the quatercentenary of the King James Version of the Bible (KJB).

Soon after the New English Bible New Testament was published in 1961, C S Lewis remarked, a little inelegantly, to TS Eliot, “Odd, the way the less the Bible is read the more it is translated!” Nevertheless, the publication of the KJB remains one of the greatest events in world publishing history, with the version eventually becoming the main conduit of the biblical message in English for the next two or three centuries. The influence of the KJB permeates our language, literature, music (Handel’s Messiah, mainly based on the KJB, is perhaps the best-known example), and much more. Numerous celebratory events will be held in the English-speaking world throughout 2011, but Cambridge, which provided two of the six KJB translation ‘companies’ (the other pairs of companies were based in Westminster and Oxford), has special cause to mark this anniversary: the number of Cambridge alumni involved in the project exceeded that from any other university! The Cambridge companies were responsible for translating the Old Testament books from 1 Chronicles to Song of Songs, and also the Apocrypha. It will be possible to represent only a few facets of this great Bible translation in a one-day event. I shall be very interested to learn more, from my colleague William Horbury, about the Cambridge translation ‘companies’ and how they did their work. And since the KJB has ‘impacted’ North America as much as anywhere, I am keen to hear Mark Noll, acclaimed for his studies on religious and intellectual aspects of life in America, give a transatlantic perspective. Mark taught for many years at Wheaton College before moving to Notre Dame, and is ideally placed to comment on ‘The KJB in America’. The team of speakers includes other major authorities – Pauline Croft (Royal Holloway) on the historical background, Brian Cummings (Sussex) on the literary legacy, and Scott Mandelbrote (Cambridge) on the reception of the translation. And I am delighted that the

Archbishop of Canterbury, with so many KJB invitations to choose from, has agreed to give the closing lecture of the day. The end of Michaelmas term is interview time for Cambridge applicants. As usual, one is left wondering about the many who could have applied and didn’t. And midst the seasonal goodwill, Westminster politicians have again been rubbishing Oxbridge’s record on access. It does seem unfair to blame Oxbridge for the failure of parts of the state school system to train the young to think and write clearly. Cambridge already has students whose monoglot efforts at writing can rival the diglot delights of Google Translate. Even so, we interview the vast majority of applicants, which arguably exacerbates the lottery effect of the entrance system but gives unexpected talent the chance to shine. The University and the Colleges individually spend great amounts of money each year trying to widen access. Perversely, by making Oxbridge the yardstick, the critics exaggerate its importance at the expense of other UK universities where the competition for places is sometimes stiffer (and not just in crude statistical terms). I should really have reserved some space to talk about my research, but then this is a diary, and there has been limited time for research since term started. Often I quote Tony Benn’s witticism (mutatis mutandis) about leaving parliament to have more time for politics. If I were to go into detail, it would include the phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel and among its Near Eastern neighbours, and Israel’s origin traditions in Genesis. As I approach the career exit door, the thought of some untrammelled pursuit of these and other under-developed research interests gets ever more inviting.

The event, Cambridge Celebrates 400 Years of the King James Bible, six lectures in the University Church followed by Evensong, is on Wednesday 27 April. The conference has been organised by the Faculty of Divinity. For more information visit The UL has an exhibition on the KJB running until June. Visit for more information. CAM 62 03

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EricWhitacre at Sidney



800th campaign continues

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to the College to record their parts. The recording, now complete and due to be heard for the first time this spring, includes 2051 voices from 58 countries. Despite making his name using modern technology, Whitacre’s passion for the human voice resonates with early music. “He was inspired by all the music taking place here,” says Dr Skinner, “and his work fits well with a Renaissance music style. The two worlds come together quite harmoniously.” A new a cappella piece by Whitacre – based on Virgil’s poetry and inspired by Sidney Sussex’s unique choral vespers – will be given its premiere at the College during Easter Term. Eric Whitacre said: “Conducting Sidney Sussex Choir in the first performance of my setting of Oculi omnium is something that I shall never forget – I cannot wait to return.” Marc Royce

The fifth annual fundraising report on the 800th Anniversary Campaign has been released. It shows that despite the economic downturn the Colleges and the University have maintained the momentum of this important fundraising effort. At the end of the financial year 2009-10, the campaign had raised £1,037 million from alumni and friends of the University. The Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (pictured left) said: “This report highlights the outstanding achievement of my predecessor, Professor Dame Alison Richard, in launching and driving forward this campaign and reaching its £1 billion milestone two years early. “The campaign is continuing. In this time of uncertainty, visionary benefactors, both large and small, will be a crucial element in maintaining our ‘edge of excellence’ and will ensure that we continue to develop the people, knowledge and ideas that will transform tomorrow.” The report is available to read online at

merican composer and web sensation Eric Whitacre has arranged a new setting of the Sidney Sussex College grace, Oculi omnium. Whitacre, who created waves when a YouTube recording of his Virtual Choir attracted over a million viewers in two months, wrote the new arrangement as a Visiting Fellow and composer in residence at Sidney Sussex during Michaelmas Term. Dr David Skinner, Osborn Director of Music at Sidney Sussex, invited Whitacre to Cambridge after the two struck up a friendship during a College Choir tour of California in 2009. Sidney Sussex also became the focus of Whitacre’s latest Virtual Choir project – an attempt to create the world’s largest online choir in a performance of his piece Sleep. Last November, dozens of choral scholars from across Cambridge came

Eric Whitacre

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Fitzbillies ceases trading World-famous cake shop Fitzbillies, on Trumpington Street, is no longer trading. Established in the 1920s by the Mason brothers, Fitzbillies was renowned for the stickiness of its Chelsea buns – a recipe that was passed down from owner to owner for 90 years.


New Year Honours Six Cambridge academics have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list. Professor Mike Gregory received a knighthood for services to technology and Professor Caroline Humphrey is made a DBE for services to scholarship; Professors Barry Kemp and Ronald Laskey are made CBEs; Professors Christopher Lowe and Sheila Bird are made OBEs. Administrator Margaret Johnston is made an MBE.


Eminent architect Spencer de Grey CBE, is to take up a five-year visiting professorship at Cambridge. De Grey is a senior partner and head of design at the leading London architecture firm Foster and Partners and is also a Royal Academician. His current projects include the masterplan for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the National Portrait Gallery courtyard at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. As the Department’s first Visiting Professor of Design he will take part in a series of workshops and bring his international experience to bear on current design research issues through a number of special lectures.To download his lectures visit Spencer de Grey at Foster and Partners Richard Nicholson


Pioneer computer to be rebuilt

A Pictures courtesy of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

working replica of EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator), the first fully operational stored-program computer, is to be rebuilt in recognition of the pioneering computer scientists at the University of Cambridge who developed it. EDSAC was a general-purpose research tool built in the 1940s under the direction of the late Professor Sir

Professor Sir Maurice Wilkes

Maurice Wilkes, then Director of the Mathematical Laboratory. It ran its first program on 6 May 1949, when it calculated a table of squares. Professor Wilkes is now widely regarded as the father of British computing. His objective was to produce a practical and reliable computer using proven hardware and imaginative programming techniques. The original EDSAC had over 3000 electronic tubes for logic, mercuryfilled tubes for memory, data input via paper tape and output on a teleprinter. The computer could perform 650 instructions per second and was used for nine years until it was dismantled to make more space. By then it had been superseded by the faster, more reliable and much larger EDSAC 2.The replica will be housed at the National Museum of Computing at the UK’s former code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park. The project is expected to take three to four years.


Wordfest returns Wordfest, Cambridge’s biannual literary festival, returns in April with the best in intelligent debate, workshops and speakers. Taking place at venues all over Cambridge, Spring Wordfest will host more than 100 writers, ranging across contemporary literature, memoir, history, art, politics, travel, dramatic performance and poetry. Headline events include Dawn French talking about her first novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous, Ian McEwan and American writer Sam Harris discussing morality and religion and Roger McGough and Simon Armitage on poetry. They will be joined by artist Maggi Hambling discussing her career and her controversial Aldeburgh Scallop, Michael Frayn on his father, Celia Imrie on acting, PD James on crime, Arlene Phillips on the spectacle of dance and Colin Thubron on Tibet. Wordfest takes place 15–17 April; the box office opens on Friday 4 March. For more information, visit CAM 62 05

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BBC search for alumni contributors The BBC is researching a documentary about people who were at Cambridge in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the effect their experiences had on their lives. If you would like to contribute, please email the director at


Publish your thesis online Thesis languishing in a drawer? Reckon it still has academic value? Want to make it more easily accessible? An initiative from DSpace@Cambridge allows students, past and present, to do just that. DSpace@Cambridge is the institutional repository of the University, established to facilitate both the dissemination and preservation of digital material created by its members. A publication platform that offers free permanent access to collections, it continues the University’s 800-year history of stewardship of scholarly material in a digital world. The e-thesis project gives PhD students and alumni the opportunity to publish a digital copy of their thesis at DSpace@Cambridge. Each University faculty or department has its own e-thesis collection where alumni can deposit their work. The goal is to build a complete digital collection of theses from the University, ensuring continued access to this valuable material for future generations. If you completed your dissertation at Cambridge and would like to deposit your thesis, visit for submission details. For more information visit


VaughanWilliams exam manuscript discovered at UL


Main image: Close-up of A Cambridge Mass Inset: Williams as a young man Below: Vaughan Williams by Sir Gerald Kelly,1970

After the exhibition closed, Tongue visited the Manuscripts Room and asked to see the manuscript. “I sat enthralled turning over the pages in the hushed atmosphere and trying to imagine the sounds,” he says. “Here was clearly a work from a great composer.” A Cambridge Mass was performed in full for the first time at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, on 3 March.

APPOINTMENTS National Portrait Gallery

n early work by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (Trinity 1892) has been performed for the first time after being spotted in an exhibition at the University Library. The score of what is now being called A Cambridge Mass – for soloists, double chorus and orchestra – was written by Vaughan Williams in 1899 for his doctoral examination and had never been heard. The score still contains pencil markings made by the examiners. Deposited in the University Library’s Manuscripts Room, the manuscript was identified as an unperformed example of the composer’s early work only when it was put on display to the public as part of a wider exhibition. The discovery was made by conductor Alan Tongue (Jesus 1959). “Gazing at a page of the score displayed in a glass case, I knew immediately that here was a significant work. I thought to myself: I want to hear this played and I want to be the one to conduct it. It was a moment of revelation,” he says.

New director of Isaac Newton Institute Professor John Toland has been appointed Director of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, succeeding Professor Sir David Wallace. Professor Toland’s research interests include nonlinear partial differential equations and mathematical analysis. In 1978, he proved Stokes’s conjecture on the existence of gravity waves of maximum height on deep water, a previously open problem dating back to the 19th century. The Institute runs ground-breaking programmes at the frontiers of research, attracting leading mathematicians and scientists from around the world. The results advance thinking in many areas, including medicine, engineering and climate science. Most events at the Institute are open to all. Visit for more information. CAM 62 07

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Online Booking The online booking service at is the fastest and most efficient way to book for an event. There is no additional fee and your place will be confirmed as soon as your transaction is complete. If you prefer to book by phone, post or email, don’t forget to include your (and your guests’) full name, College, matriculation date and membership number (where applicable). Please be aware that all events are subject to change. Pre-booking is essential for all events unless otherwise indicated.

Save the date On 5 December Sir Paul Judge (Trinity 1968) will once again kindly open his stunning London riverside apartment to alumni and guests. Tickets for this popular event will be on sale shortly.


An inspirational autumn Friday 23 – Sunday 25 September



Opera at Lake Constance

e inspired by all that Cambridge has to offer at the twenty-first Alumni Weekend this autumn. Attracting leading speakers and more than 1000 alumni and their guests, Alumni Weekend will get your mind fizzing with ideas and inspiration. The three-day programme consists of over 100 lectures, tours and activities. Speakers confirmed so far include: Professor Christopher Clark, Professor Helen Cooper, Dr Julia Gog, Dr Richard Harrison, Dr John MacGinnis, Professor Robert Mair, Dr Simon Moore, Dr Helen Mott, Dr Amrita Narlikar, Dr David Runciman, Professor Jacqueline Scott, Professor Rosie Trevelyan, Dr Rob Wallach and Dr Christopher Young. Guests attend as many or as few events as they please. We hope that this year’s programme will attract both newcomers and the many regulars who have supported us since the event began back in 1991. Booking opens on Monday 6 June. Please check the CARO e-bulletin and website for updates. If you haven’t attended in the last three years and would like a copy of the brochure please email Andy Potts

Bregenz, Austria, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July


cclaimed for astonishing productions on the world’s largest floating stage, the Bregenz Festival on the shores of Lake Constance continues to delight serious opera lovers and newcomers alike. After the huge success of last year’s alumni event, Cambridge returns to the Festspielhaus for a performance of Umberto Giordano’s magnificent André Chénier and for the premiere season of Achterbahn (Miss Fortune), by leading British composer Judith Weir CBE (King’s 1973), who will attend the performance. As David Pountney (St John’s 1963), artistic director of the festival, explains, André Chénier is a perfect choice for the open-air floating stage. “The opera is a perfect mix of ingredients for the venue: a thrilling story and four strong characters

caught between the excesses of the Ancien Régime and the terror of the French Revolution. Giordano’s music is verismo of the very highest calibre and drives the high-voltage plot forward with breathtaking speed.” In contrast, Achterbahn is the first in a series of new operas jointly commissioned and produced by the Bregenz Festival and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Inspired by a Sicilian folk legend, Achterbahn is an ancient tale about fate turned into a very topical parable for the twenty-first century. Tickets cost £295 per person and include top-price seats for both operas, a backstage tour of the Seebühne, talks on the two operas, lunch with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and a series of events organised by Austrian and German alumni groups.

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Tours designed for the Cambridge Alumni Travel Programme

Trips to inspire and inform... Tours with Distant Horizons

Tours with Temple World (incorporating IMA Travel)

Shrines &Palaces of North India

Magical Madagascar


16 September – 2 October 2011

28 August – 13 September 2011

13 – 24 September 2011

Explore the fascinating temple and palace towns of North India with Dr Maria Misra, a history lecturer at Oxford University and former Channel Four presenter for the 2001 programme An Indian Affair. Visit the holy city of Varanasi and the awe-inspiring temple complex rising above the jungle at Khajauraho with additional stops in Agra to see the Taj Mahal, the ‘pink’ city of Jaipur, the ‘blue’ city of Jodhpur, and the beautiful city of Udaipur.

Join Professor Ben Sheldon, Professor of Field Ornithology at Oxford, to tour a host of protected reserves and rainforests containing diverse wildlife, from impish ringtailed lemurs and ‘dancing’ sifakas to brightly-coloured chameleons, frogs and butterflies. Bird lovers will find six endemic families of birds in Madagascar, one of the world’s ten biodiversity hotspots and home to six of the world’s eight species of Baobab tree.

The mountains and ephemeral rivers of Damaraland are among the last true wilderness areas in Africa, where desert elephant and black rhino can roam unchallenged, unmanaged and in a spectacular landscape. Combined with the dunes of the Namib at Sossusvlei and the magnificent game of Etosha Pan, this special tour takes in the best of Namibia with an exclusive safari led by expert environmentalist Dr David Price Williams.

From Columbus to Castro

Galápagos Islands & Ecuador

Best of Borneo

9 – 21 November 2011

3 – 15 December 2011

23 July – 4 August 2011

Explore in depth the fascinating island of Cuba with Dr Keith Brewster, lecturer in Latin American Studies. Cuba is a country of picturesque colonial towns, magnificent 20th century architecture, spectacularly beautiful landscapes and an intriguing Afro-Cuban culture. This unique journey across the whole island will unravel the richness of the nation’s history, art and culture.

Visit colonial Quito before setting off on a week-long private cruise aboard the ISABELA II, one of the most comfortable small yachts in the Galápagos with just 20 en suite outside cabins.Tour all the key islands in the Galápagos with Michael Brooke, Curator of Ornithology at the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology, who will explain the ecology of this unique area.

This lushly forested region of Borneo is one of the most untouched wildlife habitats in Asia. Accompany Dr William Foster, Senior Zoology Lecturer at Cambridge, on visits to Kota Kinabalu National Park to see pitcher plants and 1000 species of orchids, and to Sepilok to learn about the vanishing habitat of the orangutans. Later visit the remote villages of the Iban tribespeople to learn about these former head-hunters. /alumni/cambridge

Distant Horizons 13 Melloncroft Drive, Wirral CH48 2JA, UK T: +44 (0) 151 625 3425 E:

Temple World Ltd 13 The Avenue, Richmond TW9 2AL, UK T: + 44 (0) 20 8940 4114 E:

Morocco’s Imperial Cities 15 – 26 October 2011

For further information on other Alumni Travel Programme tours visit our website:

With special visits arranged by Professor James Allan, Lecturer in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, study Morocco’s 6,000 years of archaeology, while also experiencing magnificent scenery, desert dunes, exotic bazaars and wonderful local cuisine. See how the country’s art and architecture have been influenced by the Berbers, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Portuguese, French and Spanish.

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Alumni groups There are nearly 400 groups around the world, bringing alumni together to network, to connect back to Cambridge or simply to socialise. New alumni groups have been set up in Wellington, NZ, and Afghanistan. Visit for more information.

Wired for sound Are you – or is an alumnus or alumna you know – blind or partially sighted? Would you prefer to hear, rather than read, CAM? CARO is investigating the possibility of producing an audio version of the magazine. If this is something that might interest you, please contact Morven Knowles at or by post (below).




herever you live in the world – whether it’s Finsbury Park or Fiji, Boston or Bogotá – there’s almost certainly a group of Cambridge alumni doing something interesting near you. But if your idea of an alumni group is simply a room full of people reminiscing about the good old days, think again. From just a couple of people getting together for a nostalgic drink to established groups that take in networking, socialising and everything in between, alumni groups

are as varied as the Cambridge graduates they serve. Joining a group can be a fantastic way to grow your professional contacts – but it can also be a way of contributing to the life of the University. Many groups act as ambassadors and advocates to NGOs, industry and government. If you’d like to find out more, to find a group near you, or to support local activities as a speaker or host for an event, visit

Get connected Connect with thousands of fellow alumni, make your views heard and join the debate on CARO’s Facebook page at Our interactive pages carry news and updates from the University, Colleges and Departments to keep you in touch – and a fiendishly difficult Friday Cambridge quiz to keep you on your toes. You can also get quick updates from us via Twitter (@CARO1209) and see what’s been going on at alumni and group events on our Flickr site at

Improving online services

Robin Heighway-Bury

Want to update your contact details? Need to tell the University what kind of mailings you’d like to receive? You can already update your details online at but from this summer you’ll also be able to access your details securely, modify the contact details the University holds, and manage your mailing preferences. More details and instructions for logging on will be included in the next edition of CAM. Find out more about the project by visiting Contact CARO Website: Email: Telephone: +44 (0)1223 332288 Post: Cambridge Alumni Relations Office University of Cambridge, 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AB CAM 62 61 11

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Words Leigh Brauman Photograph Charlie Troman Margaret Mountford (Girton 1970) is a lawyer and businesswoman, best known for acting as Lord Sugar’s adviser in the BBC series The Apprentice.

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Sarah Gunn is a first year mathematician. As well as spending time solving problem sheets, she is a keen bassoonist and plays with the CUMS Wind Orchestra.


hink Girton is all about an independent spirit and an awfully long bike ride? Think again. According to Margaret Mountford, Lord Sugar’s eagle-eyed and penetrating adviser on The Apprentice, and first year mathematician Sarah Gunn, it’s all about the spooky corridors. “The lights in the corridor used to be turned down to half-strength at night,” recalls Margaret Mountford. “There was one girl who had a long black cloak and when she glided down the corridor we all screamed!” Sarah Gunn says walking around at night is still quite odd. “We don’t have half-strength any more; instead the lights are supposed to turn on automatically. But in practice they don’t work until you’ve almost reached the end of the corridor which means they actually turn on behind you.” Mountford, who started as a modern linguist but switched to Law in her second year, remembers a gas fire (“it made it cosy and I suppose, yes, we must have toasted crumpets”) and fellow students climbing in her window to get round the strict gate hours. She also confesses to a poster of a garden gnome. “It wasn’t very

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THE BEST... JOG IN CAMBRIDGE Paul Smth is reading English at Robinson


sly grin. A nod of acknowledgment. A recognition of shared impeccable taste as we runners cross paths, not on the best jog in Cambridge, but on the best jog out of Cambridge. Finding the right route is crucial. Jog anywhere central and you face a flattening from cyclists. Grantchester Meadows? Too populated by Barbourclad dog-walkers. A series of wrong turns provides the answer: Coton, a village two kilometres to the west of town. Away from cobbled civilisation, and into neglected hinterlands, it is a secret haven for novice athletes. Trainers laced up tight, leave the University Library. Head westward towards Robinson College, and down Adams Road. Follow the path past the Cavendish Laboratory and the Veterinary School. Scale the footbridge over the M11 (the summit of this flat excursion), and exhale as rush hour shoots beneath your feet. Now you’re in Coton: where to go next is at the discretion of your limbs. Pound the concrete of the signposted route, or just improvise. Vault over stiles; dash through sprawling meadows and fields; sprint in fear of the invisible, irate farmer (FASTER, NOW ). Get lost. Delight in that foreign

land beyond the lecture hall. All too soon you’ll be on the homeward stretch, whizzing past the legend: ‘Welcome to Cambridge: twinned with Heidelberg and Szeged.’ Coton’s flat and barren landscape is a canvas for projections of East Anglia’s seasonal splendours. The sky turns fluorescent shades of blue in May Week, and in autumn, the Michaelmas moon appears just before the suns sets. Listed as the University Rifle Range on a 1970s Ordnance Survey map I found at a book fair (RUN FASTER ), the stretch of farm-land feels infinite. Vainly, I envisage myself as a rural action hero, fighting three-foot puddles, fleeing cows, dodging rabbits. They’re everywhere. Silence. Country aromas. That visceral sensation of filling your lungs with fresh air. All the while, the UL’s tower bisects the horizon. From Coton, you feel taller than that academic factory. My first marathon attempt remains miles away, and entry to the Hawks’ Club for distinction in cross-country running looks dubious. Instead, for the price of a stitch or shin splint, each time I run Cambridge is left trailing behind, breathless, panting, and struggling to keep up. Charlie Troman

grown up,” she says, “but it wasn’t the pre-Raphaelite art that everyone else seemed to have.” You get the feeling that, even then, the pre-Raphaelites would have been a bit drippy for the steely Mountford. “I had quite a few books in here, text books and case books, and I suppose I must have had novels too,” Mountford says. “But the thing we had most of was biscuit tins. Lots of biscuit tins.” Gunn agrees on the biscuits, but is not so sure about the books, explaining “Mathematicians do look at books, in theory. But I’ve actually only been to the library twice so far – and that was to use the printer.” Mountford occupied A14 for only a term: she was waiting to move to Wolfson Court, Girton’s almost-intown enclave, which was just being completed. She says that A14 now looks completely different. “When I was here it was actually a set, a bedroom and a sitting room,” she says, “which I shared with a friend called Jacquie. She had the smaller bit and I had the bigger bit, so this room had to be used as the sitting room as well as my bedroom. She had a boyfriend who used to come at weekends, so I was rather peripatetic around College.” In fact, Mountford says that her enthusiasm for moving into town now seems a bit odd. “With hindsight I don’t know why we were so desperate to move – in College the grounds are lovely, it’s peaceful, and in the summer, when there’s exam frenzy going on, it’s nice to get away from it all.” And Gunn says that living in College also means you get to see a bit more of Cambridge than just the University. “It’s quite refreshing being able to cycle past houses with ‘real’ people in them in the morning – it helps you to remember they exist,” she says. “The ride takes me 15 minutes and the record is seven minutes downhill. One guy did it in seven minutes uphill, but the wind was with him and he rows for Britain so we don’t really count it.” Ah, bikes. When it comes to cycling up Castle Hill, Mountford’s memories are not quite so fond. “I did have a bike and I was thrilled when someone did me the great favour of stealing it!” she says. “I didn’t replace it and so was relieved from having to cycle after that.” Mountford and Gunn might not agree on the pleasures of the two-wheeled excursion but they do agree that being made to come up a week early in your first year is intimidating. “I was coming from Northern Ireland,” says Mountford, “and we came up early to do our oral exams and it was terrifying. My trunk hadn’t arrived and I felt rather bereft. One friend told me later she thought I was one of the Miserable Irish. It’s pathetic really.” Gunn recognises the situation: mathematicians come up early to attend a week of lectures. “It was quite strange because College was really empty,” she says. “But in a way it was nice because it meant we got to meet all the other maths students before we had to cope with the really scary arts students!”

‘You get the feeling that even back then, the pre-Raphaelites would have been a bit drippy for the steely Mountford.’

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TheDining Club Words Anna Melville-James Photograph Christoffer Rudquist

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Brian Woodrow, Gordon Guild, James Long, John Skinner and Jim Crossley (all Magdalene1958) are members of a dining club first dreamt up in their final year at Cambridge.


he aim is to go on until there are none of us left alive!” declares Brian Woodrow. He’s not joking. Every year, Brian, along with 10 of his Cambridge contemporaries and their wives and families, meet for a dinner. They’ve been at it since 1961, and tonight will celebrate their 50th anniversary – 50 years of dinners, certainly, but also of a close and enduring friendship. So how did they meet? “Different people came together for different reasons in the group at university,” says Gordon Guild, one of the group’s founder members. “Some of us went to the same school, some read history, some did national service together, some rowed together – some more effectively than others. Some frequented the College pub …” “… and as freshers we all dined in Hall fairly frequently,” adds James Long. “Probably our activities were rather more unsophisticated and innocent than modern students. We often went to the Pickerel pub in the evening, and I probably met the likes of Gordon and Brian there.” Brian remembers the large set over the Pepys Library, which he and Gordon shared in their final year, as a particular magnet for many of the eventual members of the club. “I think that was one of the things that coalesced us – most people by then lived out and they would come and dump themselves on us. I suppose it was a place in College where people would drop in.” It was around this time that the idea of a dining club emerged as a way of making sure everybody didn’t lose touch. No one can pinpoint when it was first suggested, but the first annual dinner was held the following autumn. Then, as now, Brian acted as coordinator. “The secret to the dining club is Brian,” says John Skinner. “He has the dinners all written down, the date, when each was held. You’ve got to have someone with the will to organise and do that. You’ve got to have a Brian.” Indeed, Brian is the only person who has been to every dinner. “In the early days there was some riotous behaviour,” he confesses. “The first ever dinner was at Kettners in Soho – the kitchen caught fire, although that was nothing to do with us. In 1964 I agreed to have it in our TA officers’ mess. I’d just got married and we all had far too much to drink. I got taken home to my wife of three weeks. John Skinner ended up in a suit of

armour. Someone let off a fire extinguisher. And I think someone ended up bouncing metal beer barrels down the stairs. That was the worst.” And while tonight’s celebration may be a black tie event, held in the Parlour at Magdalene, early dinners could be more ad hoc, with events held in each other’s homes. “In the early days most of us weren’t particularly well off and we were making our way,” says James. “One of the changes is that we can now afford not to have to do all the cooking ourselves. In the early days it was all a bit DIY. “The format was to go away for the weekend, go to the dinner and then the following day the wives and children were invited to a lunch. In those days we’d all be suffering from minor forms of hangover. In a typical male way we thought we were doing them a great favour inviting them to the lunch!” “The events became more decorous when the wives joined us,” laughs Brian. With such a span of continuous time shared, the group has seen marriages, children and grandchildren arrive, careers grow and change and their lives evolve. Nevertheless, according to John, the friends haven’t changed much as people. “I can still see all the characters and the same images from back then,” he notes. Jim Crossley agrees: “Everyone’s character has an enduring theme, although the emphasis on various notes within the theme probably changes with age. Brian was always the organiser, running after people. John Skinner has probably changed less than anybody. Gordon, I think, has got a little more serious, but still has terrific charm. James Long is still dapper.” “I suppose some of us have put on a bit of weight, lost a bit of hair,” counters James. “In character terms it may be we caricature each other and we’re trying to live up to the memories of who we were – or rather other people’s memories of who we were. “The interesting thing about meeting each year is that the changes are gradual. My perception of others is as it was – a bubble we live in, which is rather lovely.” For Gordon, the structure of meeting up every year has been key to their enduring friendships. “Distance can often create problems, you can end up not seeing people. There’s a degree of compulsion in a dining club. You have to turn up, hell or high water, which is an advantage. “For those of us who’ve moved around a bit, the dining club is the glue that keeps us together. Not many people go back that far, unless they’ve stayed in one place their whole life.” Jim agrees that what they have achieved is unique. “The DC has certainly brought an enduring dimension to our lives, something people feel they can fall back on. But I don’t think it’s just about linking back to Cambridge. It’s developed into a friendship of families.”

If you would like to share the history of your friendship, contact us by email at or by post (see page 11).

Front row (left to right): John Skinner, James Long, Gordon Guild (seated), Jim Crossley (seated) and Brian Woodrow. Back row (left to right): Sinclair Ross, Bill Purver, David Fletcher, Tim Thomas, Richard Hamilton and Rev. Julian Barker. Two other core members of the group, Jeremy McLachlan and Max Tetlow, have passed away but their wives are still part of the club.

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Why are the British obsessed with monarchy?

David Starkey (Fitzwilliam 1964) is an historian and broadcaster specialising in the Tudors and monarchy.

John Simpson (Magdalene 1963) is a foreign correspondent and the world affairs editor for BBC News.

Christopher Clark (St Catharine’s 1990) is Professor of Modern European History and a German specialist.

Interviews by Chris Alden

particularly obsessed with monarchy – we tend to make less of a thing of our monarchy than neighbouring republican nations. I think there’s a more interesting question: why does monarchy arouse the reaction it does, almost everywhere? The first answer is the one offered by Walter Bagehot: monarchy is interesting and republics are boring. Monarchy is exciting: individuals, glamorised and dressed up, getting born, getting married and dying – with added publicity, drama and the invocation of ceremony and traditions. Secondly, it seems to me, monarchy is hardrooted into the human brain. Every organisation is monarchical, in its literal sense ‘ruled by one’ – every school, every newspaper, every country, political party. It seems to be how we operate. What also happens is that monarchy in the 20th century became a part of celebrity culture. It was noted in Britain as early as the 1920s: “Our Royal Family are the best film stars we’ve got.” It’s striking what the House of Windsor pulled off in the 20th century: to become more central to the public’s imagination, at exactly the moment the monarchy lost the last vestiges of its political power. But logic has got little to do with the real world – we’re driven by other things. Monarchy answers to those things; an earnest debate about GDP doesn’t. We love stories, we love personalities, we need narrative. The fact that we’re largely governed by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England is difficult stuff: much nicer to get excited about Kate Middleton. JOHN SIMPSON I have to question whether we are obsessed with monarchy. We’ve got a royal wedding coming up, we’ve had a royal film out; but I don’t think a film and a wedding constitute obsession. What it is, is that the Royal Family represents us – represents our history. There are lots of people who feel an affection for the Royal Family; no doubt when the royal wedding happens, there’ll be hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people in the streets – I think that’ll be lovely, though I don’t think I’ll be one of them. But they’re

Angus Greig

DAVID STARKEY I don’t think the British are

not worshipping members of the Royal Family: they’re expressing pleasure at a family that represents the nation. I think the institution of monarchy is only good because it doesn’t interfere with things, doesn’t get in the way. Queen Victoria was an absolute pest to her prime ministers and seemed to have a feeling, even as late as the end of the 19th century, that the monarch had real political power. But that’s long since gone. You’ve had this succession of blameless monarchs who were careful not to get involved, only to do things to enhance the public good. It’s quiet; it’s nice to have someone’s head on the coin and the stamps. I suspect that’s how an awful lot of people in this country feel, and that’s why I don’t think we’re obsessed with it. CHRISTOPHER CLARK Are they any more

obsessed with monarchy than other nations? Monarchy has a purchase on imagination which transcends its British habitat. The Germans are obsessed with die Queen, as they call her – it’s not just a British thing. But there are reasons why the British are attached to monarchy. One is that monarchy is biological: it holds up to view the lifespan of an individual. There are engagements,

weddings, funerals, divorces – the whole of life is there. That gives monarchical office an emotional resonance that an individual who occupies offices like ‘president’ or ‘prime minister’ is unlikely to have. But there’s another feature of monarchy that attracts its supporters. It becomes clearer when you ask the question: what might replace monarchy if monarchy weren’t there? Monarchy is beyond politics, at least in the sense of the partisan representation of interest. Some people see that as a positive thing, that monarchy can be the non-political, stabilising core of a political system. Republicans believe the republic is a better and freer system: some see monarchy as enshrining privilege and prerogative and reinforcing deference and the acceptance of social difference. I think the reasons for people’s attachment to monarchy are often emotional rather than intellectual: continuity with the past, affection for the monarch and a diffuse desire for something beyond politics which represents some enduring principle. These are not philosophically sophisticated arguments, but they have a strong appeal. I suppose that’s how I would sum up the case people make for monarchy.

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CAPITAL LETTERS Words William Ham Bevan Images Philip Moore & Jürgen Röhrscheid


TONE INSCRIPTIONS are so numerous around the University that it is easy to overlook their value as works of decorative art. And remarkably, almost all of the significant examples since the 1950s are the product of a single studio. The elegant hand-carved letterforms of the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop are everywhere in the University and Colleges. Most of them fulfil a memorial function, remembering heads of houses, fellows or scholars, while others commemorate momentous events. There is the 1969 foundation stone of Darwin College, for instance, and scores of plaques to inaugurate a College building or mark a royal visit. Even where their purpose is more prosaic – simply to locate, or to offer directions – the beauty and balance of the inscription are never compromised. The origins of the workshop date back to 1945, when David Kindersley established his first letter-cutting business in Cambridgeshire. He had served an apprenticeship with the early 20th-century’s greatest British practitioner of the art, Eric Gill – a man who left many marks of his own on Cambridge. Indeed, the city is the 18 CAM 62

Top left: David Kindersley Top right: Sampler alphabet in Welsh slate, 1970 Opposite page: 1 Jesus College 2 Trinity College 3 Wolfson College 4 St John’s College 5 Clare Hall 6 Queens’ College 7 King’s College 8 Emmanuel College 9 Sidney Sussex College 10 Selwyn College

greatest repository of Gill inscriptions outside London, with notable examples encircling the pond at Newnham College’s Sidgwick Hall, and marking the entrance to the Pitt Building of Cambridge University Press. Kindersley maintained the discipline of carving directly on stone with hammer and chisel, and very soon, his Cambridge opus eclipsed that of Gill. Like his former teacher, he was also a typeface designer – a side of his talent much visible in town as well as gown, for the letters used on Cambridge’s street signs are his creation. Had a ministerial decision of the 1950s gone another way, the whole country might have become familiar with Kindersley’s letterforms. His proposed typeface for Britain’s road signage was passed over in favour of Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s submission. Kindersley died in 1995, and today the Workshop is run by his widow, Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, and her husband, Graham Beck. They employ two assistants and three apprentices, and continue to work in the traditional manner, avoiding the use of machines. In recent years, high-profile commissions have included a new plaque at Addenbrooke’s, continuing a collaboration between the hospital and the workshop that began in 1960. For all their work in the town, it is in the Colleges that Kindersley inscriptions are most numerous – and stone is not the only material in which they appear. A feature of Corpus Christi Taylor Library is a remarkable four-panel glass window bearing quotations in three languages, completed by the workshop in 2007; while Girton College has the only example of a Kindersley painted sign, marking the site of the last College laboratory to remain in use. More surprising is that some works were never intended for public viewing at all. In the book Cutting through the Colleges, Thomas Sherwood writes of the joy of rediscovering plaques on roof parapets “where the slate commemorating architects, builders and bursars is exposed to all weather and seen by no one”. At the other end of the spectrum are vast commemorative panels, such as the World War II memorial in Trinity College, which occupies an entire wall of the ante-chapel, and bears some 382 names – all carved in situ. Another leviathan is to be found at the Churchill College Archives Centre. A lengthy roster of the building’s benefactors is carved into a narrow band of Portland stone, stretching some 13½ metres along an exterior wall. At walking pace, it takes a good 10 seconds to pass the frieze, and an appreciation of the labour that must have gone into its creation fairly leaps out of the stone. Appended to the building’s dedication is an excerpt from Churchill’s 1938 address as Chancellor of Bristol University, and it is one that could aptly be applied to the legacy of David Kindersley: “The inheritance bequeathed to us by former wise or valiant men becomes a rich estate to be enjoyed and used by all.”

Cutting through the Colleges: Kindersley Inscriptions in Cambridge University Colleges by Thomas Sherwood and Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley is published by Cambridge University Press.

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We are grateful for the assistance of Phil Treble.




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ive-year-old Nicholas Patrick is sitting on the sofa between his parents at their home on the North Yorkshire coast. It is 20 July 1969 and they are watching as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take their ‘giant leap for mankind’ on the Moon. The picture is grainy and the sound muffled, but Nicholas is captivated. He can’t think of a better way to spend his life than exploring space. There and then, he decides that he wants to be an astronaut. Fast forward 40-odd years and Nicholas Patrick (Trinity 1983) is floating in space. He is surprised at how comfortable he feels as the hatch in the International Space Station opens and he drifts out into the blackness, holding onto the handrail. All he can hear are two soothing sounds – the radio voice in his earpiece giving him instructions, and the whirr of the water and oxygen being pumped around his suit. He turns the light of his helmet off, looks up and sees the stars. He notes that they don’t twinkle this far up. He looks down and sees the Earth glowing 200 miles beneath him. He has been training for this space walk for a year, in an enormous pool back in Houston, wearing a weighted diving suit to stop him sinking or floating. Perhaps that’s why the feeling of being in

space reminds him of being underwater, and why he doesn’t feel afraid of falling. These are the familiar images of space exploration – spacewalks, shuttle missions, small steps for man. But times are changing: the classic era of space exploration which launched the dreams of thousands of children is at an end. Patrick is one of the last astronauts to fly in the remaining operational NASA shuttles, Endeavour and Discovery. In February 2011, the last ever NASA space shuttle flight will have taken off. After that, Endeavour, Discovery and a third shuttle, Atlantis, will be decommissioned and NASA astronauts heading out to the International Space Station will hitch their rides on Russian rockets. Does this mean that the exploration of space has been abandoned? Has the romance of discovering deep space died? Quite the reverse, say astronomers. “I was sitting in a pub with one of my colleagues one day, and he said to me that what we’re doing is seeking the destiny of the human spirit,” says Professor Rob Kennicutt, director of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. “OK, that’s a little bit hyperbolic. But I relate to it. We are in a position now to answer some very fundamental questions. The big questions in

astronomy right now are the really big ones. The biblical ones. Take the universe equation: how did everything we see come to being? What is the fate of an expanding universe? Will it expand forever? Won’t it? And perhaps the most fundamental question of all: are we alone in the universe as sentient, intelligent beings?” There’s a famous episode of The Simpsons – ‘Deep Space Homer’ – in which NASA is concerned about the public’s lack of enthusiasm for modern-day space exploration. “We’re researching the effects of gravity on tiny screws,” explains one NASA official earnestly, before introducing his fellow space adventurers as “a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician.” (NASA reportedly loved the episode.) In fact, it’s the mathematicians, physicists and statisticians who are keeping the romance and excitement of space exploration alive. Over the past 15 years an astonishing new vista has opened up for astronomers, one which has little to do with spacewalks and shuttles but which looks far, far beyond the Moon, from the Carina Nebula to the Sombrero Galaxy, into black holes and dark matter maps, millions upon millions of light years from Earth.

TO BOLDLY GO Probes and physics may have replaced rocket-riding heroes, but the romance of space exploration is still very much alive.

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“The Apollo programme to send people to the Moon was not primarily a scientific project,” says Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics. “It was a stunt, motivated by super-power rivalry. When the Americans had won the race to the moon, the motivation for continuing man’s space flight got much weaker.” But in fact, says Rees, space exploration over the past decade doesn’t have just one single unforgettable image – it has thousands. “The public are actually more interested in astronomy than ever because of the wonderful images beamed back from space and because of the amazing progress that has been made.” Ten years ago, he says, there was very little evidence for planets around other stars. “Our solar system seemed unique. Now we know about hundreds. Many, perhaps most, of the stars you see in the sky are orbited by systems of planets. Technology has become much more sophisticated. That means that scientific instruments in space are now much more sensitive and can do a great deal more than could be done 20 years ago. We now know with a good deal of precision what the universe was like when it was a second old. We know what its ingredients were with the precision of a few per cent. We understand how, over billions of years, the big bang led to the emergence of galaxies. These discoveries will form one of the most exciting chapters when the history of today’s science is written.” The Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge has none of the glamour and glitter of NASA – and has yet to be parodied by The Simpsons – but it is nonetheless at the forefront of answering these big questions. The modern Hoyle Building, all brick and glass, could be the headquarters of any modern company while the white Observatory Building, with its four formal columns, is a relic of a grander era. Built in 1823, it was placed deliberately far away from the city, so that astronomers would have a better look at the stars, but buildings and streetlights have long since snaked up around its grounds. “You don’t really have that isolation any more,” says Professor Rob Kennicutt, director of the Institute, with a touch of regret. “You have to go pretty far out to get a really good view these days.” He reminisces about the sky at night out in the country where he grew up, in upstate New York. “You could see the Milky Way. Millions of stars. That’s how I caught the bug. I don’t go to telescopes much these days as most of it’s done in space or remotely by computer, but I like nothing better than going outside at night and just looking at the stars.” Around the grounds are dotted old observatory buildings, some cream and ornate, others plain brick with planks at the windows. With the odd little buildings and the disparate people drawn together under one banner, the place has the feel of a modern22 CAM 62

‘Space, as Douglas Adams famously said, is big. Very big. Plato will travel a million miles beyond the Earth. The Gaia telescope, launching in 2012, will look at around a billion stars in its quest to map the Milky Way.’

day Bletchley Park. The roar of traffic is muted once you enter the grounds. Important things are going on in these unprepossessing surroundings. Codes are being broken. But the Hoyle Building is buzzing with very modern life. Students in Goth attire are talking animatedly in the hall around a whiteboard, across which some enthusiastic physicist has excitedly scrawled an explosion of parallel lines and X and Y axes. An affable white-haired gentleman in full running kit wanders by, lost in contemplation of some papers. The corridors are glowing with pictures of space phenomena, millions of light years away, with poetic names: Butterfly Nebulas. A Pillar of Star Birth. Occasionally, an open door provides a glimpse not of some eccentric oddball, but of a man or woman bent quietly over his or her computer. Their doors are adorned with self-deprecating cartoons (the punchline to one reads: ‘Liberalarts majors may be annoying sometimes, but there’s nothing more annoying than a physicist first encountering a new subject’), movie

quotes and papier-mâché gold-painted suns. It’s here that astronomers are overseeing missions aimed at mapping the galaxy and finding ‘new Earths’. The European Space Agency Gaia mission, set to launch into space in 2012, will seek to provide a three-dimensional map of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Dr Nic Walton’s team at the Institute will be responsible for its photometric processing system. Then there’s the planned Plato space telescope which, if it wins funding from the European Space Agency this year, will seek out new Earth-like planets in our cosmic back yard. Plato (which stands for Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars) will photograph the stars in its field of view once every 10 minutes for 10 years, allowing Dr Walton’s team to observe tiny fluctuations in brightness caused by planets passing in front. By analysing these minute variations in the brightness of the stars, evidence of transits, the Cambridge team will be able to identify which have planets not too close or far away from their suns to support life. The team aims to map the location of stars with planets throughout our galaxy, the Milky Way. After promising planets have been located, the next step will be to attempt to find out more about their biosignatures – the presence of gases that could indicate life. “These so-called ‘new Earths’ will be rocky planets with an atmosphere,” says Walton. “If we can find a star with a planet that we can show is Earth-like, seek evidence for some sort of biosignature, then we can say that on this planet there is evidence of some sort of biological activity going on. Then you could have a point in the sky, with a star like ours, with a planet like ours, which perhaps one day future generations could aspire to reach.” And Walton says it’s not impossible to imagine that mankind could some day reach these ‘new Earths’. “Some of these planets could be around stars which are perhaps only 10 light years away from us,” says Walton. “You could imagine in a few hundred years we’ll have the technology to make these trips. If you look at an early episode of Star Trek with people touching their touchscreen and talking into these little communicators and you look at what you’re doing with your iPhone now … these things do come to pass.” Both projects, and many like them going on around the world, harness the disciplines that explorers have always used – identifying, mapping, measuring – but on a grand scale. “If you want to understand how our galaxy is evolving or how it was formed, you need to look at locations and properties of the stars within our galaxy,” says Walton. “If you know the distances, it’s easier to get the masses of objects, their luminosity, their brightness, and it’s easier to tell what type of star they are and where they were born. This means you can then look for patterns, for example, the evidence for how our

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galaxy was formed. One scenario is that it was formed by mergers of different galaxies. So you might look at stars and work out if one set came from one old galaxy and one set came from another.” It’s like mixing different yogurts in a bowl, he says. “One stream comes from the raspberry yogurt, one stream comes from the strawberry … to do all this you need to know where things are.” And what of the biggest mystery of all: on some planet orbiting a neighbouring star could a team of astronomers be looking at evidence that our sun has a rocky planet capable of supporting life? Astronomical science is feeling its way towards an answer. In 1961 astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake came up with the famous ‘Drake equation’ to guess at the number of potential extraterrestrial civilisations in our galaxy. “This equation essentially lines up all the numbers you have to know to answer that question,” says Kennicutt. “How many stars are there? How many planets are around those stars? How many planets have the right conditions of weather and temperature? And so on. More than half of these factors have now been filled in.” Space, as Douglas Adams famously said, is big. Very big. The Plato telescope will explore a million light years beyond the Earth. The Gaia telescope, to be launched in 2012, will look at around a billion stars in its quest to map the Milky Way – “a small percentage,” says Walton, of the total objects in our galaxy. But despite the abstract physicist’s vocabulary of parallax and flux and parsecs and the sheer difficulty of trying to comprehend the magnitude of what lies out there, it’s surprisingly easy to connect with what modern-day space exploration is trying to achieve and why it continues to captivate the public imagination.

Colin Pillinger, now Professor of Planetary Science at the Open University but once a Cambridge researcher, is living proof that the spirit of adventure is alive and well in space exploration. His Beagle 2 project to send a probe to Mars aroused huge public interest. Dubbed the last of the Victorian scientists – “it’s not because of my sideburns,” he insists, “it’s because I dabble in things that interest me” – Pillinger claims his love of science is simple: the fascination of finding out things you don’t know. “Initially I wasn’t interested in astronomy,” he remembers. “I studied chemistry, primarily because other people went to university and it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Then all of a sudden I discovered research. I was doing something that nobody else had ever done. That was my motivation. The beauty of research is that you’re discovering something new. Now, I was a chemist in the 1960s. People would come to me all the time asking me to make them LSD! I never needed it. My mind was like that anyway. It’s a kaleidoscope. “We made Beagle 2 a national event. It didn’t just evolve that way. We set out with that in mind. We had no money. We had to generate public enthusiasm for it. Before we started, I went to a meeting at the European Space Agency and told them that they needed to look for life on Mars and they needed a lander. They said who’s going to build it? You’ve never done it. Who’s going to pay for it? The Brits won’t. So I said that’s not true. Somebody will pay for it and it’s so important that we have to do it. And we did it. Me. Blur, a rock band. And Damien Hirst, an artist who saws cows in half.” Beagle 2, the pictures sent back by the Hubble telescope, the ‘new Earths’ discovered by the Kepler telescope – they’re all things of

wonder, products of the utmost dedication and determination. Perhaps that’s why they continue to fascinate us, even in an age of austerity when the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake is becoming increasingly unfashionable. They call to something fundamental in our make-up, says Melanie Challenger, poet and artist in residence at the Institute of Astronomy. She is currently creating an ecological calendar of poems based partly on research at the Institute into things we can’t see above us, and partly on seasonal events in the Cambridgeshire landscape and skies that we can observe. “In a strange way, people now take the concept of deep space for granted,” she says. “The range of mental territory for human beings has steadily broadened from those first inquisitive tool-makers to the early migrations, to more recent civilisations intent on searching out the hidden earthly territories for the expansion of their purposes. Finally, of course, our ambitions and interests lifted up into the skies. But an odd transition has taken place, whereby while modern generations feel the skies have been demystified, knowledge of the Earth’s species and richness have disappeared from people’s lives.” And back down on Earth, Nicholas Patrick believes that, despite the ending of the shuttle programme, space will continue to inspire generations who will travel further than we ever will. “I think there’ll never be anything quite as iconic as the Moon landings again,” he says. “It was the first time people had landed on something that wasn’t Earth; there can never be that first again. Mars might be as iconic. Having a moon base would be close. But I hope, even without those iconic moments, we manage to inspire people at least half as much as I was inspired as a youngster.”

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All images © Christian Tagliavini

Maintaining a sense of proportion – modern excesses of body shape and fashion are not a recent phenomenon. Dr Ulinka Rublack explains.


Images Christian Tagliavini

shall never forget witnessing a friend’s husband returning home from a business trip. She and I were having coffee in the enormous sunny living-room overlooking the Seine. We heard his key turn in the big iron door and then a firm, masculine footstep in the corridor. Finally the man himself appeared. “My feet are killing me!” he exclaimed with a veritable sense of pain. The shoes – striking, shiny, black, exquisite – were by Gucci. We might think that these are modern follies, which only today beset men as much as women. Yet, surprisingly, neither my friend – whose modest breast implants were selected with equal care – nor her husband, would have seemed very much out of place in Europe around 1450. Early modern men wore long, pointed Gothic shoes which not only looked uncomfortable but also made walking down stairs a special skill: indeed, in the Franconian village of Niklashausen at this time, a wandering preacher drew large crowds by urging men to slash the tips of their shoes. And, like my Parisian friends, men and women in this period aspired to an elongated, delicate and slim silhouette. In Italy, books on cosmetic surgery were being written (from the Greek cosmein, meaning to order). Very small people were perceived to be deformed and were given the role of grotesque fools. Proportion was the order of the day.

The photographs on these pages come from a series called ‘1503’ by Christian Tagliavini, who says he was inspired by a desire to fuse the work of painters from different eras - in this case, Agnolo di Cosimo (Il Bronzino) and Modigliani. All the costumes were made by the artist by hand and the project, from initial research to finished image, took over a year to complete.

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o at what point did it begin to matter what you looked like? Or, to put it another way, how and why have fashion and image become embedded in how people feel about themselves and others? It is an intriguing historical problem. The Renaissance – a term I use in its widest sense to describe a long period, from c.1300 to 1600 – was a turning point. After 1300, a much greater variety and quantity of goods were produced and consumed across the globe. Textiles, furnishings and clothing formed a key part of this unprecedented diffusion of objects and increased interaction with overseas worlds. New materials and innovative techniques in cutting and sewing, as well as the desire for a tighter fit to emphasise bodily form, particularly of men’s clothing, transformed tailoring. Merchants expanded markets in courts and cities by making chic accessories such as hats, bags, gloves and hairpieces ranging from beards to braids. At the same time, Renaissance art depicted humans on an unprecedented scale, involving many more people in the act of selfimaging. New media – medals, portraits, woodcuts, genre scenes – as well as the diffusion of mirrors circulated more information about dress across the world while simultaneously enticing more and more people into trying to imagine what they looked like to others. These new consumer and visual worlds created new emotional cultures – new ways of feeling. In July 1526 Matthäus Schwarz, a 29-year-old chief accountant for the mighty Fugger family of merchants from Augsburg, commissioned a naked image of himself as fashionably slim. Over the course of his life, from youth to old age, Schwarz commissioned 135 watercolour paintings depicting his dressed self, which he eventually compiled into a remarkable album, the Klaidungsbüchlein (Book of Clothes), which is housed today in a

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small museum in Brunswick. From the many fascinating details the album reveals we know that, when courting women, Schwarz carried heart-shaped leather bags in green, the colour of hope. The physical, material expression of emotions tied to appearance – heart-shaped bags for men, artificial braids for women or red silk stockings for young boys – may strike us as odd. Yet the messages they contained (of self-esteem, erotic appeal or social advancement) and their effects, (which ranged from delight in wonderful craftsmanship to concern that a look had not been achieved or that someone’s appearance was deceptive) remain familiar to us today. In these parts of our lives the Renaissance becomes a mirror that leads us back in time and disturbs the notion that the world we live in was made in a modern age. We have been dealing with clever marketing as well as the vexing questions of what images want and what we want from images, and whether clothes wear us or we wear them, since 1300 . Nonetheless it is too simplistic to treat fashion, as the French sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky does, as an engine of Western modernity. In his view, fashion exploded tradition and encouraged self-determination, individual dignity and opinion-making. Fashion did indeed play this role to some extent in the 16th century, but not in uniform ways and directions, let alone just in the West. Clothes were already forming an important part of what we can call people’s ‘psychic landscapes’. Wardrobes were already storehouses of fantasies and insecurity, as well as accommodations to expectations of what a person ought to look and be like. Rather than an easy affirmation of beauty and virtue, it is these cultural arguments and struggles that lie at the heart of the Renaissance. The interaction with more things in general, and with

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visual media in particular, added further complexities to people’s lives. Image-making practices, such as Matthäus Schwartz’s album, could sometimes present highly controlled visual acts and arguments to achieve a specific response in large public audiences. But they were also used to explore more openly what was local, regional and foreign, to manage conflicting emotions, or to reflect on the course of an individual life in terms of how one tried to appear to others. Indeed, examined closely, it becomes apparent that Matthäus Schwarz’s album is rather more than mere self-fashioning. The book captures his appearance from teenage to old age – the final image leading him to reflect sardonically on how different life seemed now from the years of his prime, when he dressed in red; not wanting to appear mutton dressed as lamb, in age he wore black. Just as today, an interest in fashion was mostly associated with youth. As a young king, Henry viii, for example, pioneered the Renaissance vogue for monocoloured splendour, throwing a lavish party with 24 young men fitted out, in the German style, in “yellow satin, hosen, shoes, girdles and bonettes with yellow feathers”. Lower down the social scale, the rise of the universities during the Renaissance fostered, among many other things, a student generation who made costly demands on their families well into their twenties, with requests for Italian breeches, fine cloths and gloves. But, rather than furthering individualist self-determination, this desire for new clothes gave rise to new features in a family’s emotional life, not least endless negotiations over expenses; skilled arguments for why one absolutely needed a new coat and reassurances that one was going to care for these items, clean them and put rose-leaves into the drawers containing them. These were inevitably followed by wonderful letters

of excuse when bills had, once more, exploded the budget. Students developed considerable skill in remaking relationships with their parents. The parable of the prodigal son was a favourite trope, enacted, with different endings, countless times.


o clothes tested families and sometimes made them more fragile, in part because the new clothes themselves were so fragile. Intricate stitching, complicated cuts and tight, fitted styles were tailored for bodies that grew and bulged. They made men, in particular, deeply aware of their bodily contours – and especially those of their knees. Chivalric literature in the Middle Ages had already introduced the notion of the elegant leg and knightly knee linked to overarching notions of a man’s success and fortune in life. “Just look at that young man,” one poet imagined ladies saying at a court feast, “what a fortunate man he is. How splendidly he succeeds in everything he does! How handsome he is! How straight his imperial legs are.” During the Renaissance and subsequently, garters emphasised the legs further still, employing the most extraordinary knots and flourishes. Sadly, no garters from the period survive in the main costume collections, and I am not sure that we can even begin to approach the knowledge of how they were tied or how one walked in them, but there is no doubt that from the knee great things flowed. The philosopher Leibniz, for example, considered the cosmos in terms of the folds, tied in a variation of the clover knot, in his garters; he drew an image of them in the margins of his manuscript. Scholarly culture thus has no reason to stay aloof from this particular form of visual culture. Clothes to me are no different from art in our contemporary sense of a human assembly of form. Clothes are rich in categories of visual interest and tell us so much about the peculiar sensibilities of an age. Their study can bring a fresh focus to the Renaissance and our own time. And even a cursory examination of the clothes of the period requires a radical re-envisaging of what ordinary people looked like in the past. Costume dramas that deal at all with the mass of society are often visually dull, populated as they are with figures in sackcloth-like dress. In fact, historians of material culture usually assume that there was no fashion for these classes before 1800: that this was a ‘sartorial ancien régime’. Nothing could be further from the truth. These people lived in and were inspired by nature and its vibrancy. They collected feathers for their headwear, made flower wreaths, and natural dye colours. It wasn’t until the 20th century that designers such as Kelly Hoppen advanced whites and off-whites as core colours. Early modern people had little interest in ‘going sheep’; they had their own forms of chic. The challenge, then, is to approximate our image of the past to what it was actually like, to see it in colour, as it were. To remember that Ben Jonson, in Every Man Out of His Humour, created a character suffering from “flux of apparel” who walked the streets of London with a tailor in an attempt to identify the latest street fashion. To remember that people in many parts of Europe, moreover, made carnival costumes for themselves and became used to seeing fantastical theatre costumes. That Shakespeare required a character with “clothes to go invisible in” for one of his productions, while readers of Spanish Golden Age novels were invited to imagine people made out of glass. The very act of looking and imagining the seen became highly versatile and linked to playful fantasy rather than mere stereotype. It became something through which people acted out wishes and anxieties about what it meant to be human. In short, dress matters, as much for the people of the Renaissance as it does for the people of the 21st century. Indeed, here in Cambridge, my interest in clothes has not gone unnoticed “Your friend,” whispered a colleague at the University Library Reading Room desk to a mutual friend in surprise, “is reading a book about shoes!” True.

Dr Ulinka Rublack teaches early modern European history and is a fellow of St John’s College. Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe, by Dr Ulinka Rublack, is published by Oxford University Press. CAM 62 27

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orders, Caroline Humphrey observes, are peculiar places – and the RussianChinese border is more peculiar than most. The vast, empty steppe, traversed by the nomadic peoples of the region for millennia, is bisected by a frontier thousands of miles long, designating the end of Siberia and the beginning of Chinese-controlled Inner Mongolia. The border is dominated by surveillance towers, lights and a significant military presence; crossing usually entails long queues, multiple visa checks and the examination, and re-examination, of passports. Yet flying from Moscow to Beijing is almost as straightforward as flying from London to Paris. “It’s interesting because, according to certain theories, states reveal themselves at their borders,” Humphrey says, “and I think that’s true in this case. On the Russian side people have put up Christian crosses and on the Chinese side there are all these posters talking about harmony and the great Chinese civilisation.”

Humphrey is about to embark on a major research project, ‘Where Empires Meet’, examining the economic relationships between China and Russia and their relationships with independent Mongolia (which is wedged between the superpowers at the western end of the frontier). “People often forget that China and Russia share a border, and yet relations between them have world significance – not least because China is likely to be if not the world power, then a very important one, and Russia is still extraordinarily powerful with a lot of influence and resources.”Mongolia is also growing in significance. “Once a forgotten place populated primarily by camels and sheep, it turns out that Mongolia is an absolute goldmine of resources, from uranium to rare earth,” she says. “So there is huge interest in mining there, with Russia and China in competition.” So what do attitudes to the border reveal? Overall, Sino-Russian relations are stable and friendly – just two years ago, the pair celebrated

BORDER COUNTRY Professor Caroline Humphrey DBE explains why the forgotten southern edge of Siberia has the potential to reveal much about Russia, China and the nature of nationhood. Words Leigh Brauman Photographs Charlie Troman

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CV 1962 BA in Social Anthropology, Girton College 1973 PhD "Magical Drawings in the Religion of the Buryat", Cambridge 1979-85 Fieldwork in Mongolia, Nepal and India 1993-2007 Fieldwork in Inner Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine 1999 Rivers Memorial Medal, Royal Anthropological Institute 2000 Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan 2003 Honorary Doctorate, National University of Mongolia 2006 Rausing Professorship of Collaborative Anthropology, Cambridge 2010 Director of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit

‘On the Russian side, many of the residents are descendants of the Cossacks. They are exhuming the bodies of ancient ancestors saying they have not been buried with the proper Christian rites.’

60 years of diplomatic concord with joint military exercises involving tanks, fighter jets and more than 3,000 soldiers. But while Moscow and Beijing may be positive (“China needs Russia’s oil, gas and timber, while Russia needs Chinese manufacturing,” Humphrey says), when it comes to the land border the picture is more complicated. “There is a sharp difference of opinion. The Chinese have a huge population and are very rapidly developing, so for them the border is an opportunity – their people can go into Russia and get jobs and trade,” she says. “But the Russians are terrified. They have a much smaller population and huge amounts of land and people are migrating away from Siberia.” That ambiguity is reflected in attitudes among the people who live on the border itself, as Humphrey and her team have found. “On the Russian side, some of the residents are descendents of the Cossacks who originally conquered Siberia,” she says. “They feel very defensive about Chinese people coming over the border and have started renovating ancient churches, and have begun to exhume the bodies of ancient Cossack ancestors killed in wars against the Chinese in the 17th century, saying that they have not been buried with the proper Christian rites. “The result is all these rituals on the border, with priests effectively saying ‘This land contains our ancestors’ bones, it is consecrated land.’ It’s a very clear way to assert identity.” What the Chinese make of this is unclear: “It’s one of the things we hope to find out,” Humphrey says. But what about the attitudes of the people who live on the border – who, for the most part, are neither Russian nor Chinese, but a mixture of Mongolian, Buryat and other indigenous peoples? What does a border mean to people who have traditionally roamed across the steppe with complete freedom? “On the one hand, it’s not really their border. Their relatives are on the other side, and it would be better for them if they could just mosey across,” Humphrey says. “But on the other hand, the border is there and they are, like it or not, citizens of Russia or China. And the interesting thing is that the border has turned them into different kinds of people. When they migrate into Mongolia they are often rejected by the Mongolians – they don’t speak Mongolian properly, or at all; they don’t know how to herd animals any more; they are too Russified or too Chinese.” From Humphrey’s comfortable study in King’s, Siberia seems a world away. Indeed, when Humphrey selected the Buryat people as the subject for her PhD dissertation she didn’t even speak Russian (a crash course before her first trip got her started), much less Buryat. So what prompted a Cambridge graduate student to cross continents to such a remote destination? “I was fascinated by Russia. It was the ‘60s and communism was the great unknown. I wanted to be a writer and I suppose I thought that anthropology would force me to live in a completely different culture and that would be good for a writer. But once I had been out into Siberia and experienced those people’s lives, I realised anthropology was the only way I could do justice to the detail – to try to explain the way they lived and thought.” However, getting to Siberia was not easy. Having won herself a place on a British Council exchange scheme,

Humphrey was initially refused permission to study the nomadic Yakut people of the Arctic Circle; a bargaining session resulted in permission to study the Buryat peoples on the Siberian border – accompanied, of course, by a minder. “I was very young and green, but luckily all the farmers thought my supervisor, who was a much older lady, was doing the research and I was just her assistant. So they didn’t pay attention to me, and I just sat in the corner writing everything down and asking questions,” she says. “Then the supervisor got bored with the whole thing and decided to stay at home. By that time the farmers had got used to the idea that this young girl was coming, and actually they loved it because nobody had taken any interest in them before, so they were happy to talk.” It proved to be just the start. Humphrey has spent most of her working life in Mongolia and Inner Asia. For many years she travelled to spend each summer at the Mergen Süme Buddhist monastery in Inner Mongolia. She has also spent time among the peoples of Tuva, north-east Nepal, Ukraine and in Mongolia itself. Having spent so much time in the region, does she feel equally at home in Ulaanbaatar as she does in Cambridge? “I don’t feel an insider. Maybe if I had married one of them – which by chance I didn’t – it might have been different,” she says. “Going back and forth can have a strange effect though. I remember coming back from Russia feeling very much an outsider in Britain. I couldn’t get used to the private property everywhere, that every house had a gate and a fence. “And I suppose there are things that you carry back with you. In Mongolia, which is still very much an oral culture, what you say matters a lot. If you say you are going to do something you really ought to do it, and you’ll have that obligation in your mind until you are able to fulfil it. And that has become a habit.” In the 40 years Humphrey has been studying Inner Asia much has changed. The Iron Curtain has been drawn away, mining in Mongolia and manufacturing in China have fundamentally altered the economy – Inner Asia is no longer the backwater it once was. As the region becomes more accessible, will her interest wane? She thinks not. “Maybe when I was young it was the unknown that was the appeal – an illusion of course, because it was just unknown to me, not unknown in general,” she says. “Nowadays I feel I do know quite a lot about it and I am still interested – in the meeting of Russia and China and in the way that the cultures of this region are so different from ours. So many things that seem natural to us, like having a home in one place, or owning property, or having an address, just don’t exist in the same way there.” Nonetheless, given the choice between Cambridge and Mongolia, Humphrey is in no doubt as to which is the more exotic. “It has to be Cambridge – it has so many peculiar historic and traditional ways of doing things that it must be quite strange for people from outside. You can live in Cambridge for years and still not quite get it because each College does things differently,” she says. “Whereas Mongolia is nowadays a very restless, changeable newly capitalist country – skyscrapers go up, new businesses are started. And I think that’s probably more characteristic of the world in general.” CAM 62 31

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Preprandial Pleasures It may be born under the burning sun of Andalucia but semiotically sherry belongs to Britain. William Ham Bevan raises his glass. Illustration Smith

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o wine is as rich in association and significance to the British people as sherry. Shakespeare’s Falstaff declared that he would tell his sons to “forswear thin potations” and addict themselves to it. The office of Poet Laureate earns its holder 110 gallons of the stuff (although a communication breakdown somewhere between London and Jerez de la Frontera ensured Andrew Motion didn’t receive this perk until he had already passed on the laurels to Carol Ann Duffy). It is the drink that English children leave out for Santa Claus, that adds a whiff of indulgence to that classic British pudding, trifle, and that Yootha Joyce is constantly seen toping in the sitcom George and Mildred, as a shorthand for 1970s suburban slatternliness. The feared rite of prospective Conservative party candidates meeting constituency worthies is known – how else? – as ‘trial by sherry’. It also occupies a central role in the Oxbridge of journalistic cliché. In this twilight world, undergraduate tuition is delivered in the form of a ‘fireside chat over sherry’, while unwelcome encroachments of the modern world have dons ‘spluttering into their sherry’. In one particularly repulsive phrase, a recent columnist prescribed “a dose of normal in the sherry” as a cure for the ills of the old universities. Like most persistent clichés, it has foundations in truth. For much of the 20th century, sherry was inextricably bound into the rituals of Cambridge College life. Alumni from well into the 1990s will recall the silver tray at College functions, with its choice of dry fino or sweet amontillado – the little glasses pushed tightly together like the chambers of a honeycomb. What’s more, each preceding generation of undergraduates is likely to have a stronger familiarity with the sherry party. According to Julian Jeffs – the foremost British authority on the wine and an associate fellow of Downing College – the concept was invented by an enterprising chairman of the sherry-shipping house Williams & Humbert, and blossomed into a full-blown craze in the 1930s. (In passing, it must be conceded that Oxford stole a march on Cambridge here. The first known citation of the phrase ‘sherry party’, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, may be traced to an issue of the University newspaper Cherwell in 1936.) There were practical reasons why wellto-do Cambridge took to sherry when entertaning. A Manchester Guardian article of the same year made the point that tea parties were by nature sedentary affairs, as it is all but impossible to balance a cup and saucer and hold a cake or sandwich while standing up. But people would not mind standing for sherry: “The sherry glass, with its tit-bit, is much easier and more comfortable”. Twice the number could be invited, and guests would find it difficult to avoid circulating.

‘Alumni from well into the 1990s will recall the silver tray at College functions, the little glasses pushed tightly together like the chambers of a honeycomb’

Better yet, sherry required none of the fuss or paraphernalia necessary for the previous vogue of the cocktail, and had few of the raffish connotations of that drink. It was both respectable and intoxicating: as the anonymous writer in the Manchester Guardian suggests, “it suffices more or less for the cocktail addict while preserving a rather milder suggestion.” Of course, the after-effects could be just as deleterious, as Harvard historian Arthur M Schlesinger Jr discovered upon coming up to Cambridge on a Henry Fellowship in 1938. “The sherry party was the prevailing social form,” he wrote in his memoirs. “I soon discovered that while sherry could not produce the kick of a cocktail, it could, drunk in sufficient quantity, produce just as poisonous a hangover.” Julian Jeffs first visited Jerez de la Frontera in 1956, having completed his Cambridge degree in natural sciences, and took a job in a sherry bodega. Since then, he has pursued parallel and similarly successful careers in the law and wine. In the former, he became Queen’s Counsel and a Recorder of the Crown Court; in the latter, president of the Circle of Wine Writers and general editor of wine books for Faber & Faber. The first edition of his book Sherry was published in 1961; a fifth, fully revised edition came out more than 40 years later, in 2004. His exposure to sherry as a student, though, was unremarkable. “In those days, it

was a popular undergraduate drink,” he recalls. “But those who couldn’t afford real sherries used to buy so-called South African sherry. There was a very popular one in those days called Van Roost, sold by Miller’s on the corner of Downing Street.” Such horrors, at least, have been consigned to history. Since 1996, sherry benefits from a Protected Designation of Origin under European law. Only wines produced in the ‘Sherry Triangle’ around Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda may use the name; and manzanilla, the delicate version of fino that is produced only in the last of those towns, has an EU-protected denominación of its own. But it was not only the availability of poor-quality ersatz sherry that hastened its fall from grace, according to Jeffs. He says: “Many of the real sherries were perfectly terrible, and served very badly in English pubs. They were kept on the bar, they were open for days if not weeks before serving, and then they were served too hot and in the wrong glasses. It doesn’t in the least surprise me that sherry got a bad name.” Nevertheless, it is only during the past decade that fortified wine from Andalucia has lost its claim to be the default, all-purpose lubricant of University life. At some Colleges, it has all but died out. “Trinity Hall seems to have lost its taste for sherry,” says the economist and College wine steward, Cristiano Ristuccia. “We drink very little of the stuff at the moment, which suggests there is not the traditional appetite for it. Nobody asks for sherry, and I’ve never heard anyone complaining about the lack of it.” Brett Turner, who started Cambridge Wine Merchants with Peterhouse graduate Hal Wilson in 1993 and supplies many Oxford and Cambridge cellars, says: “Some Colleges have stopped doing sherry before dinner. Even Trinity doesn’t any more. They used to have it in the Fellows’ Parlour – there would be a decanter of madeira and one of sherry. But the fellows don’t bother with it now, because there’s always a sparkling wine available.” A particular victim of the University’s changing tastes is College-crested sherry. For generations of Cambridge students, Christmas-shopping quandaries were solved by ordering up a couple of bottles bearing the College arms, destined for distant relatives. Such gifts were generally of more value for the bragging implicit in the label than the contents of the bottle – often the same fino or amontillado served to junior members – and are little mourned by the more discerning. Cristiano Ristuccia says: “We no longer do those at Trinity Hall. The own-label sherries tended to be cheap: when we do drink it now, it’s of better quality.” And Brett Turner adds: “You won’t find any sherry producer with pride selling off their wine ‘back-label only’, for someone to stick their crest on.” CAM 62 33

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herry’s sharp decline in student life has been noted by Gareth Powell, a doctoral candidate at Pembroke and president of the University Wine Society. “It’s a tradition that has dropped off,” he says. “In the past, sherry would have been the only drink on offer at functions. Now, when it’s served, it’s always with something else, such as a refreshing white wine or a sparkler. You’ll still see sherry before Hall in the Graduate Parlour, and after chapel, but undergraduate tastes have shifted and evolved.” However, a short walk up King’s Parade a very different story is being told. Inside Cambridge Wine Merchants, pride of place is given to an extensive display of sherries. The shelves exhibit a whole spectrum of styles, from straw-coloured manzanilla to treacly Pedro Ximénez – wines with respective claims to be the driest and sweetest on Earth – and every shade of gold and tawny in between. These have found considerable favour with customers. “The average spend on sherry here is probably four or five times what people would be willing to put down elsewhere in the country,” says Brett Turner. “We’re lucky in Cambridge to have a small but knowledgeable market of people who seek these products. They know how good sherry can be.” He points out that the use of high quality sherries in Hall is a continuing tradition. “Gonville and Caius has been serving Pedro Ximénez with pudding, and Peterhouse has been serving high-class manzanillas as aperitifs for a long, long time.” At the end of the railway line from Cambridge to King’s Cross is another sign that any reports of sherry’s demise would be greatly exaggerated. Barely 100 yards from the terminus is London’s first bar devoted to the wine. Opened last spring by Richard Biggs, Bar Pepito has a card of just 15 quality sherries, served alongside simple tapas. On Thursday and Friday evenings, the tiny, tiled bar with its dangling Serrano hams is packed with post-office drinkers – some already aficionados, others taking advantage of the introductory measures of different styles. So what is happening? The truth is that both inside and outside Cambridge, the fortunes of sherry are far more complicated than outright decline or sudden renaissance. Above all, this is down to the wine’s complex and contradictory image. On the one hand, there is sherry’s traditional image as a sickly-sweet snifter for those with simple tastes – characterised in one depressingly typical newspaper report as “little old ladies, Michael Portillo wannabes and occasional binge drinkers at weddings, funerals and Christmas Day knees-ups”. And indeed, the traditional market in Britain is for sweet blends, usually sold as ‘medium’, ‘cream’ or ‘pale cream’. But co-existing with this is a strengthening perception of sherry as one of the world’s greatest and most overlooked wines: the

‘I’ve shown them really first-class sherries served in decent glasses, not those damn-fool thimbles that are used in hotels, and I’ve always had an extremely positive response’

preferred aperitif of the gastronomically literate, and an essential component of the most progressive tasting menus, thanks in particular to the patronage of Heston Blumenthal. Worldwide, it is the light, bone-dry styles – fino and manzanilla – that account for the greater sales, and it is these that are driving the food-with-sherry boom. One person who takes a long view of sherry’s Cambridge fortunes is Julian Jeffs. “It’s taking some little time,” he says. “But it has happened before. In the 1870s, for instance, sherry had an appalling image and sales plummeted, not least because the sherry shippers were selling lousy wines.” And today, most observers of the drinks industry agree that sherry’s future lies in quality rather than bulk sales, and especially in high-end dining. The present resurgence owes much to Spain’s rise to gastronomic prominence – and indeed the emergence of modern Spanish restaurants in Britain has been crucial, according to Turner. He says: “You have all these funky new sommeliers, mostly in London, based on the new wave of Spanish cuisine. Twenty-five years ago, there weren’t any forward-looking Spanish restaurants here: the food was what mama used to make. But the new [restaurants] have generated huge interest in sherry among sommeliers, going far beyond the Spanish scene.” A matter of debate is the extent to which all this was driven by the producers’ own promotional efforts. For much of the past decade, the Sherry Institute of Spain employed a major London PR firm, investing considerable money in the campaign. High-profile press events, a website and glossy coffee-table books pushed the idea of sherry as partner to fine dining; and the Institute worked extensively with some of Britain’s most eminent chefs, including Blumenthal. Three years ago, as the recession dug in, the PR operation was taken back in-house. But Graham Hines, who was tempted back from retirement to look after it, believes

that the slimmed-down, targeted approach is yielding good results. One promising strategy, he explains, has been to hand out £500 bursaries to wine importers, to go towards tastings and other events with customers. Last year, the institute helped Cambridge Wine Merchants to fund a tutored tasting at Emmanuel College. “They invited about 30 people, and someone came and talked them through,” he says. “Across Britain, we’ll be helping to organise 60 of those this year, which means that 2000 people will have had a really good exposure to sherry as an accompaniment to food.” The problem with such events, given the wine’s image problem, is getting people along to them in the first place. Gareth Powell points out that port, madeira and sherry tastings on the Cambridge University Wine Society’s termcard always used to be the ones that failed to sell out. Furthermore, they tended to attract a very specific subset of members: older, and mostly male, post-graduates. Once people can be persuaded to taste fine sherry under the right conditions, though, they tend to be converted. Julian Jeffs, who often lends his expertise to such events, says: “I’ve shown them really first-class sherries properly served in decent glasses, not those damn-fool thimbles that are used in hotels, and I’ve always had an extremely positive response. People say ‘I had no idea sherry tasted like this’.” A case in point was provided by a recent tasting at Peterhouse – the first, according to Powell, to attract a fairly balanced mix of male and female members. One wine proved such a hit that the next day Brett Turner was amused to welcome a steady stream of customers wishing to buy a sherry considerably older than they were. “We were mobbed,” he says. “It was a sweet oloroso, 30 years old, and they were queuing up to buy it. These are students with an average age of about 21.” The big question is whether the taste for sherry will percolate out of these small pockets of appreciation into the wider consciousness, taking the much-maligned wine out of the realm of stuffy dons, maiden aunts and Boxing Day topers for good. In 20 years’ time, it may well no longer be the case that Cambridge freshers take their first sip of sherry from a silver salver within hours of receiving their library cards. If the present revival reaches a critical mass, perhaps they will choose to start off an evening with a chilled manzanilla at the College bar. Or, if Richard Bigg’s concept finds wider favour, at one of his establishments. “I met some people from Cambridge at the feria in Jerez, and they said I should open a sherry bar in the city,” he says. “And I thought, perhaps that’s not a bad idea.” CAMCard holders can receive a discount on purchases from Cambridge Wine Merchants CAM 62 35

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eaving home and arriving at university is for a teenager a rite of passage, marking the beginning of adult life. But what if you’re already an adult? What makes someone abandon a successful career and return to education? How do mature students balance family commitments with the demands of undergraduate life – and how on earth do friends and colleagues react when you tell them you’re off to Cambridge? Gem Duncan (Lucy Cavendish 2004) was in her mid-fifties, and married with a teenage son, when she decided to leave her job as chief executive of Age Concern to fulfil a lifelong dream. “As a child I went to lots of schools because my family emigrated to Australia in the 1950s when I was five. We were £10 Poms,” she says. “I wanted to go to university but my grades weren’t good enough so I ended up with a different career, first as an electrolysist and then at Age Concern.” After working for the charity for 14 years, she decided to try again to go to university. “It felt like time to move on, so I had a complete rethink and decided I wanted to go somewhere and read books for three years!” Crucial to her wish to study full-time, and need to move during term-time to Cambridge, was the support of Duncan’s husband and son. “Having waited so long, and wanting to do it so much, it was worth doing right because it was going to have such a huge impact on my family,” she explains. Her 17-year-old son’s reaction still makes Duncan laugh. “He was doing his A levels and when I asked him how he’d feel if I went to university he said ‘Just don’t do drugs’. That was very permission-giving for me.” While families are usually supportive, friends and colleagues can find it harder to understand such a life-changing decision. John Walker, 29, is in his first year at Hughes Hall reading Politics, Psychology and Sociology.

A DEGREE OFMATURITY Words Becky Allen Photographs Charlie Troman

Undergraduate life looks very different when the twentysomethings you know best are not your fellow students, but your children. Becky Allen talks to mature students at Cambridge. Above John Walker Opposite page Jane Carmichael

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After flunking his A levels he worked in the City, first as a stockbroker at JP Morgan and then at the investment bank Citigroup. “People thought I was bonkers,” he says. “I’m from Essex and most people I knew didn’t go to university. Many work in banking and they wondered why I was leaving a well-paid job to be a student. That I was going to Cambridge didn’t make any difference – just the fact I was going bamboozled them.” The reaction of family and friends isn’t the only repercussion of leaving behind workplace structures and financial security, says Dr Jane McLarty, Senior Tutor at Wolfson College. “Settling into being a student rather than an employee can be quite difficult. Not just the loss of status but also the fact that you don’t have anyone telling you what to do. Sometimes it takes time to learn how to structure your own day and people can feel quite lonely and disorientated,” she says. Jane Carmichael (New Hall 2002) describes this role change as “both odd and liberating”. A family move to Cambridge coupled with

a longstanding ambition to become a lawyer persuaded Carmichael, then in her mid-forties, to apply for a BA in Law after a successful career as a strategy consultant. Despite the falling away of workplace structures, Carmichael believes workplace skills and discipline stand mature students in good stead. “Coming back to university later in life is easier in some ways because you have the organisational skills and work habits. I’d come from a high-pressure job so was used to working long hours. Adjusting to how much you are expected to do independently wasn’t a problem because I’d been doing that for a long time. And I loved the freedom and flexibility. “What’s also easier when you’re older is that you don’t have to look for a boyfriend! I had family responsibilities – I’m married with two children – so I couldn’t go out at night and be tempted away from my studies,” she says. Now in his fourth year reading Classics at Wolfson, 40-year-old Colin Hughes is balancing academic work with looking after his six-year-old son. “An essay a week – with

the added challenge of getting to grips with Latin and Greek – is extremely demanding academically. But I’ve had fantastic support from tutors and supervisors here,” he says. Most students can spread their workload over a seven-day week, but Hughes devotes weekends to his son. “I have to work very hard during the week so I can see my son at weekends. He’s at an age when he wants to spend time with me so I want to make the most of that. You have to get your priorities straight.” Less challenging for Hughes is mixing with younger students, many of who are less than half his age. This he attributes to having worked with young offenders before coming to Cambridge, and to a shared passion for Greek and Roman literature. “I’d been working with 15 to 16-year-olds,” Hughes says. “Although there’s a big difference between that and 18 to 19-year-olds, it meant I was used to mixing with different age ranges. It’s also less of a problem because you meet people with a common interest. Even though I have good friends at home, I can’t say that many are interested in Classics.” For Carmichael and Hughes, having responsibility for young children meant missing out on non-academic University activities. “The one regret I have – and it’s a massive regret – is that I can’t get involved in University societies or do more sport, but if you come here with existing commitments you can’t do it all. I’m here to get a degree and that has to be the priority,” says Hughes. By contrast, Duncan threw herself with gusto into cultural life at Cambridge: “It wasn’t just the degree that was important to me, but the whole experience of being in Cambridge. I went to music in all the Colleges. Nothing – not even essay deadlines – made me miss that.” At the start of her second year, however, Duncan’s husband fell ill. “My son rang up in February and told me he’d taken his dad into hospital with pneumonia. But it was cancer. I came home and he died very quickly, even though they’d told us he’d live for two years.” After her husband’s death in April 2006, Duncan returned to Cambridge to take her Part I exams, then took a year off, finishing her degree in 2008. For Duncan and many mature students, the route to graduation is far from straightforward. But despite – or perhaps because of – this, they take nothing about a Cambridge education for granted. “It’s been a really interesting experience, and a privileged one,” Walker says. “It’s such a great opportunity – sometimes it doesn’t really hit me until I’m pottering around Cambridge on my bike between lectures.” Duncan agrees. “I never lost my sense of wonder of being at Cambridge,” she says. “I just found it exhilarating. I could have stayed and done it forever.” For more information visit CAM 62 37

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Review Our contributors

Dr Rupert Gatti is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics at Trinity College and co-founder of the open access academic publisher Open Book Publishers.

Professor Andrew WallaceHadrill is Master of Sidney Sussex and an expert on Pompeii and Herculaneum

Richard Wigmore is a distinguished musicologist, specialising in the Viennese Classical period and Lieder. He writes regularly for Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine and the Daily Telegraph and is the author of The Faber Pocket Guide to Haydn and Schubert: The Complete Song Texts.

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University Matters Professor Steve Young, Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor


Debate Dr Rupert Gatti argues that copyright is the enemy of scholarship


Books Andrew Wallace-Hadrill discusses Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


Music Dante Quartet


Sport Cambridge University Fencing Club


Prize crossword Cracking Titles by Loda


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University Matters Fees and finance Professor Steve Young Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor Patrick Morgan


ach year, the University determines how its money will be allocated in a process called the annual planning round, culminating each May in the publication of an overall budget for the University in the Reporter. Normally, the allocations to Schools and Institutions provide for inflation and a small increment for strategic development. From 2010 onwards, however, Schools and Institutions will be required to make recurrent annual savings, leading to a 10% real-terms reduction in spending by 2015. Furthermore, despite these cuts, the budget will be in deficit throughout this period. To cut deeper could do lasting damage to our standing as one of the leading Universities in the world. The current funding problems will impact all parts of the University and as well as cutting costs we must also increase our income. We have already increased overseas teaching fees and, following recent changes to government policy, we must now consider what is to be done regarding undergraduate fees for home and EU students. The unique partnership between University and Colleges delivers a high quality education but it is expensive. Current estimates indicate that an undergraduate education at Cambridge costs around £17,000 per student, per year – of which about £7,000 is spent in the Colleges. For home and EU students, this is funded through a combination of the government block grant, student fees and the University and College’s own endowment income. Five years ago, the government’s block grant, plus income from tuition fees, amounted to £6,600 per student – less than 50% of the total cost. Unsurprisingly, the position was judged unsustainable. The introduction of ‘top-up’ fees in 2006 provided some relief; had that funding regime persisted, we would have expected to receive about £9,000 per student from fees and grants in 2011, rising to £10,000 per student by 2015. However, the benign financial conditions of 2006 were not to last. Since 2009, we have been subjected to various efficiency savings and, had previous government policy continued, we estimate that by 2015 total income would have been about £8,000 per student, once again accounting for less than 50% of the cost.

‘The unique partnership between University and Colleges delivers a high quality education but it is expensive.’

The new coalition government has introduced a radically different policy. Over the next four years the block grant will be reduced by more than 60%, but Universities will be allowed to increase fees to a maximum of £9,000 per student, provided that they can meet certain access conditions. If Cambridge charges the maximum fee, the total income per student by 2015 will be around £10,000 per student – about the same as it would have been under the previous regime before the cuts. An income of £10,000 per student by 2015 would, of course, still leave a significant

funding gap but, taken together with our cost savings measures, should be manageable, at least for a while. Postgraduate teaching is also suffering from cut-backs. The research councils are threatening to withdraw their support for the College component of postgraduate fees and they are also reducing the overall number of studentships. In the US, our major competitors have significant endowment income to support PhD studentships and developing similar support in Cambridge is a high priority. Teaching is, of course, only part of our mission. We are a research-intensive University and here too, there are many pressures. While core funding for research has been protected to some extent, our block grant for research will be cut in real terms and the research councils are under pressure to reduce their funding of indirect costs. At the same time, support for capital projects such as buildings and major equipment has been halved – potentially returning Cambridge to the position in the late 1990s when research activity was under-funded, every new project lost us money, and laboratories and equipment were becoming sub-standard through underinvestment. Lest all of the above appears too gloomy, it should be emphasized that the funding situation is difficult but it could have been much worse. All Schools and Institutions are working very hard to minimize the effects of reduced budgets, and the search for greater efficiency will have long-term benefits in streamlining our operations. Furthermore, Cambridge is extremely resilient. Indeed, 2010 saw us top the QS World University Rankings for the first time ever. On an 800 year time scale, the current financial stricture will appear, we hope, no more than a minor blip.

If you would like to share your views on this issue please email us at

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Debate Access all areas Who should control knowledge? Academics? Publishers? Or, in an online world, should it be freely available? Dr Rupert Gatti argues that academic copyright no longer serves scholarship. Illustration Alex Green

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or the past 500 years, copyright law in one form or another has applied to academic and non-academic writing. In the digital age, publishers are becoming even more exercised by issues concerning the protection of knowledge, arguing that copyright enables the creation of new works by ensuring creators are paid, and sustains the quality of that work through copy-editing and peer review. However, while academic and nonacademic works operate under the same law, the arguments surrounding copyright are very different. For a start, the vast majority of academics receive negligible financial return on sales of their works – either zero, in the case of research articles, or less than a few hundred pounds for the vast majority of academic monographs. As we are regularly reminded, academics today work in a ‘publish or perish’ environment and their desire for employment or promotion within academia provides powerful incentives for research and publication, far outweighing the meagre returns from publication itself. The existence or removal of copyright does not significantly alter either the income or the incentives for academics to undertake research and publish their results. The direct beneficiaries of copyright protection on academic works are the publishers, not the authors. Does this matter? Well, yes. Copyright enables academic publishers to charge high prices for, and so restrict access to, new knowledge. And the social costs of restricting the dissemination of new knowledge are high, a fact recognised by governments around the world who are pressurising academia to maximise the scope and speed of dissemination. The high price charged for both journal and monograph publications reduces the amount of research that can be undertaken, first by requiring libraries to compete for limited university resources and second by restricting the availability of new results to those researchers with access to the best endowed universities, concentrating research activities and knowledge to an elite few. It also reduces both the scope and the speed of dissemination to those working outside academia – restricting the take-up rates by industry or other non-academic users of academic research. If the cost to society of copyright on academic works is so high, what are we getting in return? Publishers presently undertake three critical tasks for academia: the dissemination, the selection and the preparation of manuscripts for publication. Most importantly, publishers ensure that academic work is distributed. To do this they have print runs to manage, stockpiles to warehouse, remainders to dispose of, distribution channels and websites to maintain – and all these things must be paid for. But digital technology has transformed all

‘Embracing new publishing models would allow us to harness technology to avoid the costs and restrictions of copyright. Typical academic idealism? Not entirely.’

this. As the plethora of blogs show, it is now possible for anybody to disseminate their thoughts independently. Print-on-demand, digital downloads and online publications allow individual copies of works in either digital or paper formats to be accessed at minimal, and continually decreasing, cost without the need for large print runs to warehouse or remainder. What about selection and quality control? Surely that is a benefit worth paying for? The difficulty for academia is that while ‘peer review’ is undertaken (usually gratis) by academics themselves, decisions about what should be published are controlled by publishers. For academia the objective of this screening process is to identify good-quality research; for publishers it is about identifying commercially lucrative publications. If quality control is delegated to publishers, the incentives provided to academics to undertake research (appointment and promotion decisions, allocation of research grants, etc.) and even which topics to research, are being determined by publishers’ objectives rather than academic ones. Lastly, publishers highlight the importance of their role in copy-editing, proofreading and preparing manuscripts for publication. In practice many academic publishers now require authors to prepare ‘camera ready’ manuscripts and, when provided, most publishers outsource these services to independent contractors operating in secondary markets. Clearly, traditional publishers are no longer necessary in delivering any of their three primary functions. Eliminating copyright on academic works would wrest control away and enable more efficient and innovative mechanisms to develop for the delivery of all three tasks – allowing greater speed of access to new research while providing fewer distortions to research incentives. It is, alas, unrealistic to think copyright law can just be scrapped on academic works – the attempt to distinguish academic from non-academic works would become a legal minefield and powerful vested interests would be sure to prevent such action in any case.

Rather than requiring the outright removal of copyright, however, academics and academic institutions can act within the existing law to circumvent the harmful restrictions of copyright, through the use of ‘Creative Commons’ (CC) licences for the publication of academic works, most usually associated with ‘Open Access’ (OA) publications. CC licences recognise the author as the copyright holder but specifically allow for the free redistribution of the work by others – particularly for non-commercial use. OA publications allow for a digital version of the work to be freely accessed by readers. By embracing these new types of publishing models, academia can rapidly harness the benefits of new digital technologies and avoid the unnecessary costs and restrictions imposed by copyright protectionism. Typical academic idealism? Not entirely. The Obama administration, all three of the UK’s main political parties and most European governments have voiced support for OA publication of research. Many major universities and research funding agencies – including Harvard and the Wellcome Trust – have placed OA requirements on research funded by them, albeit with a six- or twelvemonth ‘period of grace’ between initial publication and the release of an OA version. Indeed, several thousand OA journals (primarily in science disciplines) and a small number of OA academic publishers have now been established. Within Cambridge, a group of academics, including myself, has founded a not-for-profit OA publisher – Open Book Publishers – publishing new peer-reviewed monographs in the humanities and social sciences and ensuring they are freely accessible by anybody with access to the internet. Every day our books are being read online by people from every corner of the world – India, China, sub-Saharan Africa, Iraq – literally everywhere. This, surely, is the future of academic publishing. But there is still a very long way to go – the ‘period of grace’ is clearly a compromise between reformers and vested interests rather than having inherent economic merit. Business models for OA publishing are being experimented with and refined, but there are still far fewer initiatives supporting OA publication of monographs or of research in arts and humanities disciplines than of journals in the sciences. By moving decisively and adopting OA and CC requirements on all research, universities and research funding bodies can force the publishing industry to respond and deliver the service actually required by academia and society – rather than continuing to allow the publishing tail to wag the whole body of academia.

Dr. Rupert Gatti is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics at Trinity College and co-founder of the open access academic publisher Open Book Publishers. This article is a personal view.

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Books Decline and fall Andrew Wallace-Hadrill discusses The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. Words Leigh Brauman Steve Bond


oday, Professor Andrew WallaceHadrill’s volumes of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon sit snugly on a high shelf, nestled against Mommsen’s History of Rome. But in 1967, when the classicist and now Master of Sidney Sussex was just 16, Gibbon’s work was the focus of a Roman adventure – physical, spiritual and intellectual. “I was only in Rome a week or so, and most of my time was spent visiting monuments,” Wallace-Hadrill says. “But nonetheless, I vividly remember sitting by the iron balcony on the terrace of the Pensione Erdarelli with my copy of Gibbon. I think I was on volume 2, with Christianity just coming over the horizon.” Gibbon’s Decline and Fall is a seven-volume epic, which begins with a survey of the magnificence of the second-century empire and ends in sixteenth-century Rome. “Gibbon continues past the sack of Rome, past the Byzantine empire, past the fall of Constantinople, until, twelve centuries later, he is still declining and falling,” Wallace-Hadrill says. “It is a most extraordinary history because, while the title suggests that it covers a defined topic – there was a Roman empire, it flourished, it declined and then it fell – in fact Gibbon discovers that the telling of this story cannot be contained.” A dense, laconic sweep of history might seem an odd choice for a teenager, but Wallace-Hadrill says that his interest in Rome had been apparent for some time. “I could almost call [Robert Graves’] I, Claudius the book that changed my life – I had read it the year before, and then, with a school friend, written a sequel about Nero,” he says. “But at that point my dad [medieval historian, Michael Wallace-Hadrill] said that if I was interested in this stuff, I should try Gibbon. And so I did – and spent an entire summer holiday doing not much else.” In between reading about Marcus Aurelius (“a man with a superior philosophy – something which was very important to Gibbon”), Commodus (“a perfect pest”) and Augustus (“Gibbon returns to him like a nervous twitch – he is beguiled by this crafty tyrant and his instinct for power”), Wallace-Hadrill says he got lost in Gibbon’s prose style, and in his footnotes.

‘Looking back, I think my dad was observing my growing interest and knew I was ready for Rome and for Gibbon.’

“I’d been told I should read the footnotes and remember thinking ‘What a bore’ – but I quickly realised that they are as much fun as the main text,” he says. “For example, there’s one bit where Gibbon is talking about the size of the Roman empire. He does a series of calculations and gives the total. But in the footnote Gibbon says that the calculations are based on Dr. Templeman’s Survey of the Globe, before adding that he distrusts both the doctor’s learning and his maps!” However, as well as being great fun, Wallace-Hadrill says, reading Gibbon – and in particular, reading Gibbon while visiting Rome for the first time – had a profound effect on him. “In his autobiography, Gibbon describes the huge impact of his first visit to Rome, how he spends days wandering round in a daze overwhelmed with emotion,” he explains. “Back in the ‘60s you studied classical literature simply as texts, without much of the context that nowadays is central in teaching the classical world. I had no sense of their physical rootedness, so actually being there meant I was also going through my own emotional response to Rome. Looking back, I think my dad was observing my growing interest and knew I was ready for Rome and for Gibbon.” Could Gibbon alone have had the same impact? “Yes. He completely changed, and formed, my view of the linkage between classical antiquity and the present,” he says. “If you just study the texts, you have this image of the classical world as a bubble in the past. The bubble pops and you are in the Dark Ages, and then modernity emerges from the gloom. Gibbon just doesn’t allow that reading.” Having spent much of his career working in and around Rome, Wallace-Hadrill is now firmly ensconced in Cambridge, and Gibbon has returned with him. “Decline and Fall isn’t really professionally relevant to me,” he says. “It is an old friend, rather than something I refer to all the time.” But surely, as Master of Sidney Sussex, he must pick up a volume occasionally for advice on managing his own Cantabrigian empire? Wallace-Hadrill is adamant. “Absolutely not!” he says. “Even the weakest emperors have some power – and Masters have none!” CAM 62 43

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Dante Quartet : a CD shortlist Franck and Fauré Quartets Hyperion CDA 67664 Debussy and Ravel Quartets (with Ravel Violin Sonata) Hyperion CDA 67759 Janáček Quartets (with Violin Sonata) Meridian CDE 84560

Music DanteQuartet

CAMCard holders receive a 10% discount on all CD purchases at Heffers Sound in Trinity Street, Cambridge.

Words Richard Wigmore


he string quartet is dead,” pronounced Pierre Boulez in the mid-1960s. History has proved the French agent provocateur spectacularly wrong. This is not so much a golden as a platinum age for string quartets. Despite perennial problems of funding, there are more first-rate groups than ever before playing the mainstream repertoire. Many are commissioning new works, while the quartet medium has shown itself infinitely flexible, embracing avant-garde techniques, jazz, rock, film, sound sculpture and dance. Without emulating the outré excursions of ensembles like the Arditti, the Dante Quartet – quartet-in-residence at King’s since 2006 – are eloquent advocates of what leader Krysia Osostowicz (King’s 1977) dubs “off-piste repertoire” – quartets by composers such as Hindemith, Kodály, and the quietly spoken Englishman Edmund Rubbra. An awardwinning disc for Hyperion coupled the quartet by César Franck with the rarefied swansong by Gabriel Fauré, likened by cellist Bernard Gregor-Smith to a Zen garden. Their next recording is of Sibelius’s rarely aired quartet, ‘Voces intimae’. The Dante already have several commissions under their belt. And, like other contemporary groups, they are keen to break down traditional barriers between reverential audience and aloof, formally clad, figures on the podium. “We try to deformalise our concerts as much as possible,” says Osostowicz. “I often speak between works, not as a talking programme note, but to communicate our own excitement, and to create a way into the work. It helps audiences to see us as people rather than just players.” The Dante grew out of music-making at the annual seminars in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. Krysia Osostowicz and violist Judith Busbridge survive from the original 1995 lineup, joined five years ago by second violinist Giles Francis and Gregor-Smith, relishing a new challenge after 40 years with the Lindsay Quartet. A prime influence at Prussia Cove was veteran Hungarian violinist Sandor Vegh. As Osostowicz recalls, “Like so many Hungarians, he was passionately committed to music as a language, a way of speaking, rather than a vehicle for display. One of my early teachers, too, was Yehudi Menuhin, who studied with Bartók. Although I’m Polish by

Peter Whyte

origin, I feel deeply attracted to Hungarian musical culture.” Bernard Gregor-Smith is likewise steeped in the Hungarian tradition of music-making, with mentors that include Vegh and members of the Hungarian Quartet. “We have nothing like such a rich culture of string playing as in Hungary. They’re such marvellous natural musicians. It’s an inspiration just to watch the relaxed bowing arms of violinists in Budapest cafés!” The internal dynamics of a string quartet are notoriously delicate. Gregor-Smith remembers “unsociable tensions” among the members of the Lindsay Quartet. “Sometimes we would barely say a word to each other in rehearsals. That could never happen with the Dante. Although there are often underlying musical tensions, we are good friends.” Adds Osostowicz: “It’s good to live with a certain amount of tension. If we want to fight in rehearsal, fine! Although we are definitely a democracy, we almost pride ourselves on not presenting a totally unified front. People who

enjoy our playing have commented on the very different musical personalities we project, while working to a common goal.” The Dante’s residency at King’s was mooted by Osostowicz’s friend Simon Goldhill, Professor in Greek Literature and Culture, with the support of Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music. It was formalised by concert administrator Sarah Chambré, who had long admired the quartet’s intensity in performance and imaginative programming. The relationship has been mutually exhilarating. “We spend a long weekend in King’s three times a year,” says Osostowicz. “We teach students, both one-to-one and in master classes, give a recital in King’s Hall, and play with the choir in the chapel on Sunday. Our audiences often include schoolchildren as well as students and adults from outside the University. We particularly enjoy the chance to involve people from other disciplines in our concerts: when we gave a concert with an Italian theme, for instance, we invited Dante scholar and translator Professor Robin Fitzpatrick to read from The Divine Comedy.” The quartet’s name – suggested, says Osostowicz, by the idea of a journey – has inspired several commissions based on Dante, including a collaboration by a family of three Russian composers, Dmitri Smirnov and Elena and Alissa Firsova: a three-movement work titled Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. There is a specific Cambridge link with another recent commission, Roxanna Panufnik’s This Paradise, for the men of King’s choir and string quartet. This has now been performed all over England and will soon be recorded by the Dantes at King’s. In this dismal economic climate, the Dante residency appeared doomed for lack of funding. Then a member of the audience, moved by their last concert at King’s, offered a generous donation to help keep the series going for another year. “This relationship with the College has become a vital part of our quartet identity,” says Osostowicz, “and we are delighted to have built up such a big audience for our concerts here. These things cannot be created overnight, and it would be very sad to let it go. Perhaps we should optimistically reverse Dante’s inscription: Do not abandon hope, all ye who enter here!” CAM 62 45

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Charlie Troman

CAM 62_PART2_prf1:Layout 1 22/02/2011 10:09 Page 47

Sport Fencing,Victoria Wilkes Interview Anne Wollenberg


encing is so much more than a physical sport. You’re constantly thinking about your own strategy and trying to read your opponent, bluffing and testing their reactions as you learn to play to their weaknesses. It was this tactical element that sounded really interesting and was a big draw for me. Mentioning fencing tends to inspire a lot of questions. If people ask where I’m going and I explain I’m attending a fencing class, the reaction is usually along the lines of: ‘Wow, you fence? That’s so unusual.’ It seems to be seen as very novel by a lot of people. It’s also a sport that has a rather glamorous image. After all, you see swordfighting in films all the time. I hadn’t tried fencing before I came to Cambridge. I considered taking it up at high

school in Toronto, because I had friends who fenced and adored it. But conflicts in my schedule meant I never got around to trying it. Then I came here. Cambridge University Fencing Club runs a beginners’ group for people with little or no prior experience, with coaching and equipment provided. While I missed this during the Freshers’ Fair, a friend and fellow King’s College student started fencing as a beginner, so I took the opportunity to go and try it out. Fencing was fun, I discovered, but also much harder than I expected. For a start, it feels as if you’re wearing around 500 layers. What really matters, though, is your height. As a beginner, if you’re not particularly tall, you can reach a point of real difficulty because

your opponents will have a much longer reach than you do. That’s not to say you need to be tall to succeed. Rather, it’s a question of adapting your technique to suit your height. Beginners’ coach Richard Morris frequently fences against people who are much taller, so he gave me a lot of good advice. Several other coaches assisted with strategies tailored to my technique and physical build. What’s the secret? With a taller opponent, it’s all about staying out of their range. Then, when you see an opportunity to hit them, it’s a question of darting into their range and keeping the period you’re in there as brief as it can possibly be. Another trick is to move in really close to your opponent, so that you’re rather too close to allow them to hit you comfortably. When you hit and pass them, you’re trying to engineer the situation so the referee ends the round. Timing is crucial. So is keeping your eyes open and anticipating just what your opponent is planning. It’s vital to strike a balance between what you, and they, are doing. You need to get a good feel for their technique. Are they really aggressive, or more defensive? I’m more defensive on the whole, but I’ve been working on trying to take a more aggressive approach. I don’t know how much truth there is in this, but female fencers are thought less likely to be aggressive. People don’t expect it. One tactic is to pretend you’re going to go in and hit the other person so they demonstrate their reaction. You can test out exactly how they’ll react by bluffing them, knowing they’re going to parry your blade out of the way. Your opponent believes you fully intend to hit them, but instead, you’ll ‘do the disengage’, purposefully going around their blade. Competing in the Novice Varsity against Oxford was a lot of fun and a really good incentive to practise my fencing. It was interesting to watch the strategy involved, particularly on the coaches’ part. I had only fenced against a couple of people at Cambridge, and the Oxford team’s technique was so different from ours. They tended to use one similar technique they were really good at, over and over again, whereas we had a much wider range. While you need to be strong and fast to fence, there’s much more emphasis on technique once you reach a certain point. At Cambridge, I’ve done foil fencing, which limits the target area to the torso (so no hitting your opponent’s legs), and has a long list of rules regarding right of way when you hit. I did some épée fencing (where the whole body is the target) in the summer, and the age range went from teenagers right through to people in their 70s. That’s perhaps an extreme example, but it just goes to show that fencing is not a sport where you’re limited by physical restraint. You don’t peak at a certain time in your life. People often worry that fencing will be really painful, but if the kit’s of a decent quality, that’s not the case. I’ve only had one bruise since I started. ”

CAM 62 47

CAM 62_PART2_prf1:Layout 1 22/02/2011 10:09 Page 48

Six titles (one missing “The”) make up the grid’s perimeter. There’s an extra word in six clues. The initial letters of these clues must be arranged to form another title (thus completing a thematic set) to be placed in the enclosed central position. This word supplies the means to discover the puzzle’s theme and the perimeter titles. The odd letters of each extra word give a 3-letter sequence which is to be advanced or regressed by the numerical position in the alphabet of the containing clue’s initial letter, read in the order of their contribution to the central box. (It will help solvers to consider A = 1&27, B=2 &28 etc.). Chambers (2008) is recommended.

CAM 62 Prize Crossword

CrackingTitles by Loda

The first correct entrant drawn will win a copy of Ian Sheldon’s Cambridge Footsteps: A Passage Through Time (CUP, £15) and £35 to spend on Cambridge University Press publications. There are two runners-up prizes of £35 to spend on Cambridge University Press publications. Send completed crosswords to: CAM 62 Prize Crossword, CARO , 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge CB5 8AB. Please include your contact details. You can also enter the crossword online at: Please email your completed puzzles to: Entries to be received by Monday 26 April 2011.

48 CAM 62

Solutions and winners will be printed in CAM 63 and posted online at on 9 May 2011.

ACROSS 8 Marked by injury, disheartened, frightened ... (6) 10 ... including delinquent seen burning material (7) 11 Once posh Scot’s payment (4) 12 A foreign character’s trick backfiring makes wound sorer (6) 13 What one might say to horse close to top jumper (4) 14 In Perth pinches a slice of salmon for starter and sets forth (6) 15 Infatuation confused and embarrassment restrains (7) 16 Such old shabby clothes Henry’s wearing (4) 19 Ill-mannered person starts to panic – seism left everyone buried (4) 22 Norm’s copper having lost son – an upstart (7) 26 Yellowish honey from the east just lacks a bit of liquidity (6) 28 Dell once fronted by Apple’s capital? Very small amount (4) 29 Wagons rolling over these? (6)

Solution and notes to CAM 61 crossword Title by Schadenfreude

31 Good and loyal because of society’s Aboriginal women (4) 32 Window for Almerian escape is by plant, ignoring ban (7) 33 Note neckwear and take coloured choice – the ultimate in style (6) DOWN 1 Track just after gold’s put in the post (8) 2 Entente cordiale originally adopted by father and tense wimps! (4) 3 Change title of ship back in Clydeside yard (6) 4 Supplies internal security – Barker & Boyle perhaps? (6) 5 Sea cow follower, note, squeezes opening of aqualung ... (6) 6 ... well, the chap’s cut all leads from tank housing – yikes! (7) 7 One flies back – neither man’s in the van (5) 9 Four held in diamonds and ecstasy swoop (4) 11 Defence for Chatelain’s Irish girl friend includes alibi primarily (4) 17 Make known lady envoy is supported by Jaguar (8) 18 Fresh minced duck stuffing – wicked! (7) 20 American guys’ Southern employer (4) 21 Yarn about dysfunctional organ (6) 23 Essentially, freaks went crazy at intervals (6) 24 Country women accepted by St Andrews Golf Club? (6) 25 See workers e.g. for a number of the Bard’s leading positions (5) 27 Utter uplifting sentence (4) 30 Mac’s aggrieved – raise is reduced by 20% and staggered! (4) Winner: Roger Straker (Jesus 1955) Runners-up: John Green (Clare 1955) Dr Jeremy Bygott (Queens’ 1988) The TITLE is "Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin". In down clue order the answers before treatment were: DIRECT, EATAGE, PIG-LEAD, IONISER, LATERAN, ILLUME, IDLENESS, WIRE-HEEL, REAMERS, PETITION, CENTNERS, PASTELS, GHARIAL, STENTS. The omitted (shaded) letters were initially placed in the bottom row and then raised vertically into the spaces available.

CAM 62 covers with spine_prf1_Layout 1 18/02/2011 13:31 Page 2

CAM 62 covers with spine_prf1_Layout 1 18/02/2011 13:31 Page 1

Cambridge Alumni Magazine Issue 62 Lent 2011

In this issue:

Why fashion matters Stellar romance My room, your room Border country A degree of maturity

CAM 62  

CAM Magazine 62, Cambridge Alumni Relations Office Magazine, Cambrdige University

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