Wood Words

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WOODWORDS The Collingwood College Alumni Magazine | 2013-2014

FALLING INTO FRAGRANCE How writing a novel turned me into a perfumer

TALKING NONSENSE Paul Brown talks about his experience at Collingwood




WOODWORDS CONTENTS 1 3 3 4 5-6 7 - 10 11 - 14 15 - 18 19 - 22 23 - 26

Welcome Introducing the Vice Principal James Proudfoot JCR President Emma Brownlow From Collingwood student to startup CEO Talking nonsense Falling into fragrance A life in politics Researching energy in a developing country Undergraduate research internships




WELCOME A Message from the Principal ProfessorJoeElliott As I approach my third Christmas at Collingwood, I still feel like the proverbial child in a sweetshop. Having the honour to live and work as a member of this community is, quite simply, exciting, inspiring, fulfilling, and, occasionally, enervating. My greatest difficulty is trying, and regularly failing, to keep up with so much activity. In recent weeks, I have had the pleasure of witnessing The Wood receive the inter-Collegiate sports trophy (again), shivering through the Woodplayers' production of 'Dracula', listening to our musicians perform at College and University concerts, attending a fancy dress formal dressed as a Star Wars stormtrooper, and watching our team trumping a Bailey college in the final of Durham's own version of University Challenge (please look out for two Collingwood guys sorting out Mr. Paxman in the next TV series). The list could go on and on... but, because of the richness of our alumni pieces, Emma has limited me to a single paragraph this year (although, I hope that she will not spot that I have exceeded my quota).

Drury Lane, London, attended by alumni from each of the past four decades. The success of this event has encouraged us to organise a similar event next Spring.

Of course, the Collingwood community consists of more than current Durham residents and we are always delighted to welcome alumni back to College and help them find themselves in their year group photos. Last month, we enjoyed an excellent reception in

Thank you for the many different ways by which you show your commitment to the Collingwood community. I hope that you enjoy this copy of Wood Words and that I have the opportunity to catch up with as many of you as possible in 2014.

Our alumni offer so much to the generations that follow in their shoes. We are immensely grateful for the support that has enabled us to purchase an excellent "Eight", named after Sara Pilkington, a student who died tragically a couple of years ago, and a first-class baby grand piano that has proven to be a magnet to our musicians. Of course, many of our alumni also contribute hugely by offering career advice and support to our students. At a time of great competition in the employment market, such guidance is invaluable and greatly appreciated. But also, of great importance, is the fact that alumni contact of any kind helps our students to understand the role of College as a key part of our identity, as a vehicle that helps us fulfil our potential across many varied aspects of life, and, of course as the source of lifetime friends (and, in very many cases, a lifetime partner).

“Our alumni offer so much to the generations that follow in their shoes. We are immensely grateful for the support that has enabled us to purchase an excellent "Eight", named after Sara Pilkington�


Joe Elliott, Ruth Elliott and Jools Pilkington with the new VIII, named in memory of Sara Pilkington.



to all Collingwood students. I am particularly keen to develop outreach and engagement opportunities with local communities that will provide students with the opportunity to volunteer and gain skills in new environments.

As Vice Principal, I will support and develop specific areas of the college community as well as being an integral member of the College Management team. Working with others, my initial aims are to work with the MCR to enhance the Collingwood postgraduate community; build on the alumni relations work already underway in college; grow the Collingwood Connect careers scheme; and develop new initiatives that will enhance the opportunities available

I am an alumna of Van Mildert College and have several years’ experience of working at Durham University. Currently I work with Experience Durham, overseeing the University’s staff volunteering programme and have previously held the roles of Alumni Relations Officer and Student Community Action Manager. Having been an active member of Collingwood Senior Common Room, I am now very much looking forward to working with all students, staff, alumni and friends of The Wood.


>> James Proudfoot, JCR President Collingwood has had a fantastic start to the year. We have had a new intake of over 400 freshers who were welcomed by one of the most ambitious and well executed freshers’ weeks that we have ever seen, entitled ‘Fresh Air.’ Throughout the festival themed week, first year students were invited to take part in numerous in-college activities including dodgems, laser quest and a roller disco, as well as the numerous bops put on by the incredible fresher rep team. The rest of the term has seen our sports teams readily embraced by this new intake, which has once again catapulted us forward in the sporting league tables.

Other societies have also flourished, with DUCK producing a naked calendar and the Arts Society working in conjunction with our resident artist, David Venables, to create a Collingwood mural. We finished the term, as ever, with a fantastic Winter Solstice, with a “Collingwood Games Night” theme, and we are all looking forward to another packed term after a well-deserved Christmas break.

“We finished the term, as ever, with a fantastic Winter Solstice, with a “Collingwood Games Night” theme.”



EMMA BROWNLOW COLLEGE DEVELOPMENT & ALUMNI RELATIONS OFFICER The e-Newsletter can still be viewed on our website. This edition of Wood Words focuses on feature articles written by Collingwood alumni, and also some travel and internship reports by current Collingwood students. Our alumni features have distinct themes: careers and life after Collingwood – issues very much at the forefront of current students’, and recent graduates’, minds.

You will notice that the style of Wood Words has changed. In September we sent out an e-Newsletter for the first time, where you may have read end of year reflections from Joe Elliott, the JCR, MCR and SCR Presidents, and annual reviews from a selection of our many societies and sports teams.

The articles by Quin, Paul and Sarah illustrate how experiences gained at Durham, and the opportunities, even coincidences, which arise after graduation, often have a significant impact on the direction of our career, and of our lives. For some, our chosen academic field provides specialist, often recondite, knowledge and skills that are invaluable for our futures. For others, it is the fusion of multiple intellectual, emotional,

social, physical, and aesthetic experiences at College and University, and what we learn about ourselves during this time, which more heavily bear upon who we become, and the lives that we lead. Having had a successful life in politics, Lord Oliver Henley offers an insightful reflection on PMs, changes to government and the measurement of one’s age! We are also delighted to share a travel report from Harry, one of the first recipients of The Sara Pilkington Personal Development Fund, and also share the experiences of the first ever intake of Collingwood Undergraduate Research Interns. If you are interested in writing an article for a future edition of the magazine, please do get in touch. It has been a pleasure to meet some of you in person over the last year, and I hope to hear from many more of you soon.

CAN YOU HELP US PRODUCE FUTURE EDITIONS OF WOOD WORDS? We hope that you enjoy this edition of Wood Words and, as always, we welcome your comments and feedback. Today, there are over 5600 Collingwood alumni living in the UK and this number rises every year, as newly graduated students join our alumni community. Producing the magazine becomes ever more financially challenging, with rising costs associated with design, print and postage as the volume of magazines required increases. This year’s production costs are in excess of £6000, so we must all consider the future of Wood Words.

We know that our alumni body is diverse and well-connected, and that some of you may have skills or opportunities to support the future production of the magazine. Are you a designer? Is your organisation involved in publishing or printing? Would you be willing to contribute to the costs of production through donating to a magazine fund? Could your organisation sponsor Wood Words? If you can help in any way we’d love to hear from you, so please do complete and return the enclosed insert, or get in touch with


Collingwood’s Development & Alumni Relations Officer, Emma Brownlow. Join us too for a discussion about the future of Wood Words on the Collingwood Linked-In group. Would you be willing to pay to opt in to receive a hardcopy version? Should Wood Words only be available as an e-magazine? We want to hear your ideas and comments so log-on and join the discussion. (LinkedIn: Collingwood College, Subgroup of Durham University)

Quin Murray (centre).

Quin Murray Psychology Collingwood 2009-12



WOODWORDS Studying in Durham made me a little… hyperactive. With each term I wanted to get involved in more and more things. I had little idea of which of the many interests, hobbies or motivations I would pursue until after I finished my exams, but I was sure that I wanted to try my hand on a few projects after leaving Durham. My plan was to try an entrepreneurial approach to tackle social issues. It was my role as challenges officer at DUCK that probably did the most to ignite this passion for social change. Sitting on the DUCK allocation process, where we determined how and where to give thousands of pounds of student raised money, provided me with the first forum to consider possible ways of tackling and making a difference to unemployment. However, I didn’t know where to start. Like most Collingwood students, I’d met a number of amazing, creative and entrepreneurial people both before and during my time at Durham, and I began talking to a few close friends about potential projects. Very quickly I found myself creating a multi-faceted software company with an old school friend, and we started a few increasingly successful projects in completely different fields, such as educational apps, social media (Tweet Wire) and fashion sizing (Befittd). The projects got off the ground within months and our team quickly expanded to six people. We frequently had passionate conversations about potential issues to tackle and projects to start and towards the end of 2012, I returned to considering the issues of unemployment. We all had plenty of recently graduated, or still studying, friends, who were struggling through the recruitment process. We realised that one of the biggest issues that they were facing was that they did not know of, or apply to, many of the employers for whom they would be a great match. In particular, lots of talented, creative people who loved thinking and writing were looking at


careers in the City and not applying to the many smaller companies and Media agencies that would love to hire them - companies that our friends would jump at the opportunity to work at once they found out about that opportunity. We realised we could actually help. We just needed to show off these students to the employers that were, in essence, looking for them but hadn’t received an application. Hence the idea for Seed Jobs was born – to reverse recruitment; to let the jobs find students; to let employers apply for candidates. We would help people find their first, "Seed", jobs. We knew we were onto something, but first we needed to find out exactly what experiences other students, in various universities and from different backgrounds, had with the recruitment process – how many applications they made, how confident they were, how much guidance they received and how they found it. The picture that emerged from our survey was that most students wanted and needed personal help and were overwhelmed with information about all the different talks, companies and deadlines that were emailed or posted around. How could people make seeming lifecommitments for after university to jobs that they did not understand or had not experienced? Some people had done internships only to learn that a job was not right for them. What could we do? Like me, most people just try to get the most out of their time at university, especially one with as

much to offer as Durham, and the reality is that this is exactly what many people should do. Students should try and do as much as they can, and employers should be able to see who they are and not just what grades they got or where they worked. So we are starting from the beginning. We are trying to get to know people – not from their CV’s but from their interests and activities (what they like and what they do!). Our team has now grown to 10 people and we have developed algorithms that can start matching people with the kind of jobs that they will like and will do well in. Publicity has also been building recently when we were featured in the Telegraph and then invited to exhibit at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. Our next step is competing in the final of Vator Splash, where we will be presenting to VCs and press alike. Wish us luck! It’s been an incredibly challenging journey and we’ve realised that we are not going to make any changes overnight and have many more years of hard work ahead of us. However, things seem to have just started falling into place and the response we are getting from both students and employers is incredible. We have only recently started matching the first students on our growing database with their first jobs. Being able to come back to Collingwood only a year on and help my friends find the jobs they want – and do it for free – is certainly the most satisfying thing I have done to date, and I can’t help but remain the hyperactive dreamer that Durham made me into.

“Like me, most people just try to get the most out of their time at university, especially one with as much to offer as Durham.”


LBS founders; Richard Lewis, Paul Brown and Julian Sharples, 31 years on.

Paul Brown Economics & Politics Collingwood 1978-81




I’m sure I’m not alone, but I can't help feeling a sense of total inadequacy when I read about the achievements of Collingwood high-flyers. As alumni go, I think I must rank as 'pretty hopeless'. I’m sure I’m not alone, but I can't help feeling a sense of total inadequacy when I read about the achievements of Collingwood highflyers. You know the sort I mean; those who've boldly gone to discover six mile deep trenches under the Pacific, others who uncover genetic predispositions to cancer, or even the very few who successfully split infinitives that have previously gone unsplattered. I look at my post-Collingwood life and think, ‘where did I go wrong?’ Where is the successful doctor, or at the very least, lawyer, that my parents had hoped for? Instead they got a voiceover. A what? It’s a job description so unlikely that dictionaries can't even agree on how to spell it. Am I a voice over? Or a voiceover? Or a voice-over? Or simply the annoying noise that interrupts otherwise palatable viewing and listening? I’ll settle for the last. Not necessarily out of accuracy, you understand, but out of consistency, and that’s a quality that I proudly uphold. ‘Brown might have been wrong’ they’ll say one day, ‘but at least he was consistently wrong’. It’s good to have at least one tick in the box. It’s an inescapable truth that I have spent my entire post-Wood life talking nonsense into microphones, and at the grand old age of 55 I have yet to be an employee. I stress this because it is important. Given the University’s aim of helping graduates into jobs, it’s worth knowing that being an employee isn’t a vital prerequisite for adult life.

Conversely, the skills I learned, the experience I gained and the connections I made at Durham were absolutely central to being able to ‘get away with it’ for so long. Here, let me explain. I’m not an academic. Never was. But I know a good opportunity when I see one, and this one was called Collingwood. I’d done a little work experience in local radio during the months before coming up to Durham and with this in my back pocket, I made the most of Collingwood Wednesdays. While sports teams were chasing each other around Maiden Castle or straining their sinews up and down the river, I was on the train to Newcastle or across to Stockton to record commercials for what were then Metro Radio and Radio Tees. Independent local radio was only five years old at this point and voiceovers hardly existed, so it seemed a crying shame not to exploit this lack of competition. So that was the start. I was learning the art of what you can do in thirty seconds. Meanwhile, back in Durham, the University revue group at the time was called DUST (Durham University Sensible Thespians). It was a sort of poor man’s Footlights, with several revues a year held at the Assembly Rooms, assorted formals, tours, entertaining the troops in Northern Ireland, and an annual show at the Edinburgh Fringe. I wheedled my way in. At the time, many of DUST's leading lights were at Collingwood. They

included Mike Field, Julia Josephs and the multi-talented Kjartan Poskitt. In such company I couldn't fail to feel encouraged. I remember being in awe of how Kjartan could hold an audience in the palm of his hand. All I could hold in the palm of my hand was a microphone. And perhaps that was my Eureka Moment. For some inexplicable reason, I appeared to have a microphone-friendly voice. I wasn't going to argue the point, and since my academic progress was not, how can I put it, electric, it occurred to me that perhaps I should consider a long-term future talking nonsense. More nonsense was duly written and performed and it seemed to have the desired effect. Revue spinoffs included a comedy radio series and the blagging of a BBC TV show. Called ‘This Way Out’, and produced by BBC NE, it was great fun at the time, but, in retrospect it has to rank as one of the most excruciatingly cringe worthy pieces of television ever devised. A copy still exists but I swear I’d have to be tortured close to the point of death before revealing its whereabouts. My writing and performing partner at the time was Kevin Lygo of Cuths. He’s now Head of ITV Studios. I repeat; where did I go wrong? As the big, wide, post-Collingwood world loomed ahead, and having decided to try talking nonsense for a living, the question arose; why limit the idea to just talking nonsense? Someone would have to record it, and often, write music to go with it. How about a future

“I look at my post-Collingwood life and think, ‘where did I go wrong?’ Where is the successful doctor, or at the very least, lawyer, that my parents had hoped for?”


WOODWORDS talking, playing and recording nonsense? In other words, why have one bite of the cherry when I could make myself copiously sick? To reach this ultimate target of a ‘nonsense processing plant’ what I really needed was a couple of talented partners. Once again, I needed look no further than the Wood. The college band at the time was the quaintly, and somewhat indelicately, named Rigid Stools, under the leadership of music student Richard Lewis and engineer Julian Sharples. Both were up for the challenge, on the basis that it seemed a far better option than a proper job, and so the partnership of LBS was conceived. It wasn’t a long pregnancy either. Within days we had received our first musical commission and a stern test of our resolve to be creative and innovative. Should we record our demo submission at Abbey Road? No. The extremely glamorous ‘Skipper of Darlington’ (your local main Ford dealer, ask for written details) was recorded on the upright piano which stood in the Collingwood dining hall. I am sad to discover it is no longer there. I was hoping it might have got a blue plaque by now. And so I left Collingwood with contacts, partners, but above all, the ability to talk with supreme confidence and authority on subjects about which I had no knowledge whatsoever. For a close knit team of partners with business acumen, guiding the development of the fledgling LBS would pose no problem. Which is why we had one hell of a struggle, because we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Nevertheless,

in between nervous phone calls from Mr. Pocklington, our highly strung and understandably anxious bank manager, we managed to stagger from one milestone to the next. We set up business in Strawberry Studios, the former home of seventies’ pop band 10cc, in Stockport, south Manchester and a few years later, we added a studio in Soho, in the heart of Britain’s advertising production industry. Of course it wasn’t a proper business; it was a bunch of students having fun. In fact the college vibe of the enterprise reinforced by the fact that along with L, B and S came Wood graduate Sue Sanford, who committed the cardinal sin of marrying me in 1985. Other Durham mates were regularly called in to perform, and some, who had ended up working in advertising agencies, were tapped up for work. So familiar were the faces around us it was rather as if we hadn’t actually left the Collingwood JCR bar at all. By the start of the 90s we’d begun to assemble a decent portfolio of TV commercials in the Soho studio, just at the time when digital sampling was appearing on the scene. It just so happened that the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme was planning a ‘special’ about the burgeoning digital technology scene. It also ‘just happened’ that Castle graduate Howard Stableford was to present it. You can guess the rest. During our post-Durham years the number of local radio stations in Britain blossomed from around 30 to several

hundred, while TV channels have also exploded in number from the meagre three that existed during our days in the Wood. Add to that the phenomenal growth in all forms of digital media and it’s easy to conclude that we simply happened to be in the right place at the right time - although the right place did change geographically. In the midnineties Richard and Julian went their separate ways towards Oxford with their own interests while I have remained steadfastly in the North West. Some say that learning is wasted on the young. It wasn’t exactly wasted on me, I just forgot to make the time to do it. However, while I didn't cover myself in academic glory during my years in Durham, I can proudly say that today, if a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then I must be damn lethal. So many millions of words have passed my lips on so many different subjects that, by rights, I should be number one choice for the pub quiz team. Except it all goes in one ear and straight out of the other. For example, today was spent talking about triblets, 26 piece capping sets and anticlastic bangles. Tomorrow it will be replacement hip joints, a sportschain selling cheap trainers and an airline flying to Thiruvananthapuram. No luchtime drinking tomorrow, then. Never mind, I may be stuck in a tiny metal room endlessly abusing the mother tongue all day, but at least the extraordinary variety of subject matter is one redeeming feature. So does that all mean I am just an oddball? An aberration from the Durham norm? And what, for me, has been Collingwood’s legacy? I write this in a

“At the time, many of DUST's leading lights were at Collingwood. They included Mike Field, Julia Josephs and the multi-talented Kjartan Poskitt.”



Paul addressing a Durham audience in 1979 and Paul addressing Collingwood in 2013.

year when I have returned to the Wood for the first time since graduation, and, separately, I’ve joined up with a bunch of my peers from the early eighties. Both visits were extremely gratifying in different ways. Physically, the appearance of the Wood may now be very different, but I found that its attitude isn’t. I felt instantly at home, and while students have to be ever more focused on their futures, there still seems to be a relaxed mood of confidence, creativity and

independence about the place. In short, it was the place I remembered, (even when I took off the rose tinted specs), and it seems to be doing a great job. Meanwhile, Messrs. L B & S got back together for Richard Lewis’ birthday in Oxford this autumn, where I also drank too much with lots of other Durham alumni and friends whom I haven’t seen for thirty years. This was an even more welcome revelation. Guess what? None of them have discovered new trenches under the


Pacific. Or cures for cancer. They are all intelligent, humorous and communicative individuals, unafraid of following their own paths, and not at all the untouchable high-achievers I had feared. It was a huge relief to a man who spends his life in a box, and it leaves me thinking that, along with many others, perhaps I have Collingwood to thank, not just for what I have become, but for what I haven’t. Go figure.

Sarah McCartney Natural Sciences Collingwood 1978-81


FALLING INTO FRAGRANCE How writing a novel turned me into a perfumer On Saturday, I’m off to the Senate House to run a perfume event with my academic partners at the London University School of Advanced Studies.

workshops to help people create their own personal fragrance.

I’m part of a team, led by neuroscientist Professor Colin Blakemore, with AHRC funding to explore the way human senses work.

This week I’m working on an order for a North American online retailer, one of the few companies that has a system to ship perfume overseas legally, now that the Civil Aviation Authority has placed a total ban on posting perfume.

Ever since the Victorians labelled it as a low, animal sort of sense, which refined humans probably didn’t need, smell was at the back of the queue when it came to academic research into human perception. Now it’s catching up, and it’s a very exciting time to be involved. Last week I worked with an Italian stylist, Silvia Bergomi, to create the scent of Rome 1963. Silvia is tall, slim, beautiful and lovely to work with. She had a vision of a woman in a Fellini film, wearing a fragrance of tuberose and ylang flowers, with a hint of tobacco and the scent of a forest. Though I say it myself, the result is rather wonderful, but excruciatingly expensive. It will perfume the Italian House of Style for Perroni in London, where I shall also be running six

My company, 4160Tuesdays, is based in Acton London W3, which I moved into three weeks ago. There’s my lab, and space for making perfume, meetings, workshops and sitting down for a nice cup of coffee. Come and visit if you happen to be anywhere near Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush. It’s only five minutes away.

Life as a perfumer is fascinating, fraught with ridiculous regulations, and occasionally absolutely fabulous. Sometimes I stop to ask myself, “How exactly did I get here?” Collingwood was only 15 miles from my school but it showed me a completely different way of thinking. For a start, I learned that I was allowed to study things I enjoyed, not just the things I was best at. There was a course on primatology. Oh joy unconfounded. I signed up with Dr. Manley. Here was a hint that you can make up your own mind and form your own future without waiting for permission from your parents or your teachers. Collingwood allowed people's creative spirit to


flourish. There were bands to play in. I'm still in touch with Guy de la Bedoyere who led the Paracetamol Basement Orchestra, in which I played clarinet and sax. There were theatre groups. There was a lot of dancing. I'd arrived with bucket loads of As to study maths, but quickly realised that I just wasn't a dedicated mathematician. I was never going to be a dedicated anything. Collingwood let me switch around a bit. My general science degree was looked on as an academic disaster by my fellow students but outside Durham no one knew that so it has never stopped me doing anything I wanted. For me, the great thing about it was that I had variety: maths, psychology, anthropology and the history and philosophy of science, an ideal stack of subjects for understanding life in general. Collingwood also unveiled my previously unused rebellious streak... From Collingwood, I went to work in an ad agency. This was mostly because a rather snooty careers officer looked at me up and down over the top of his glasses, looked away and said, “You don’t have the personality for advertising; why not try teaching?” I’m still not sure whether this was an insult to me, advertising, or teachers, but I took it as a challenge and got a job at D’Arcy McManus & Masius. From the media planning department I

WOODWORDS then hopped over to the marketing department of the Guardian newspaper, and ended up running live events. After that I went freelance, organising events and writing articles while I studied for a Master’s degree in marketing and corporate strategy. I originally met the directors of the cosmetic brand Lush when I ordered 2000 heart-shaped bath bombs for the Guardian’s Valentines’ Day event. Then as part of my degree I wrote an assignment on the changes in technology which were about to affect retailers. As Lush was the only retailer I knew, I rang them up and asked for an interview, then sent them the finished work. Complete silence. Nothing for six months. Then Mark Constantine, the big boss, called me and asked if I could write. I’d just had a piece on passing your motorbike test published in the Guardian weekend magazine, so I said yes. For the next 14 years I wrote the Lush Times, then Lush’s blackboard signage, product labels and everything else that needed writing. I trained their overseas teams to write in a style that sounded as if they were having a friendly conversation with a customer, rather than the usual unattainable boastfulness of cosmetics advertising. I’ve learnt a great deal about the ingredients which Lush used to make their products; as each issue of Lush Times had to be different, I bought hundreds of books and did masses of research into plants and their properties. At the end of a very difficult couple of years when I had to organise my ill mother’s move into a home, I decided to take some time away from the


intensity of Lush’s wildly creative atmosphere. I wanted to explore a few creative ideas I had, including writing a novel. I knew I could do the distance as I’d been writing up to 60,000 words every three months for Lush; the question was whether or not I could tell a good story. My novel is about a woman who solves people’s problems with biscuits, a chat and a bottle of scent. She works in London, talks to people, gives them some home-made biscuits and asks them about the place and time where they were happy. Then she makes them a perfume which captures the sense of their happy memories so they can take this with them and smell it when they need to. As she works on personal recommendation, some of her clients’ lives get tangled up; there’s a small crime, a huge misunderstanding but it all gets sorted out in the end. The problem was that I couldn’t find commercial perfumes which had the scents I was describing. This research cost me quite a lot of money, but my collection of niche perfumes comes in very handy when I run my workshops. The result was that I decided to make my own. I invested in a few perfumery materials, then a few more, then a lot more. My family and friends would ask how the novel was going, I would tell them, but instead of asking to read it they would ask me if I could make them a scent to encapsulate their own happy times. I made The Lion Cupboard for my sister. This is the scent of a big Victorian sideboard where my father used to keep his hat, scarves and gloves. It’s like getting a

“Life as a perfumer is fascinating, fraught with ridiculous regulations, and occasionally absolutely fabulous.”


hug from our late dad. I made Sunshine and Pancakes for my mother-in-law to remind her of British beach holidays. Urara’s Tokyo Café is the smell of spring blossom in Japan, scents which I made to raise money for tsunami orphans at a perfume party in a tiny cafe, in Tokyo, run by my friend Urura Shiinoki. Next, through a combination of Twitter and people who happen to know people I know, I met “Odette Toilette”. Odette runs perfume events, including the wonderful Penning Perfumes collaboration between poets and perfumers, and she invited me to share my scents with her audience at Scratch + Sniff. It turned out that there were several people in the audience who would change the direction my life had been taking. One was Claire Hawksley, owner of Les Senteurs, London’s loveliest scent shop; another was Josephine Fairley, founder of The Perfume Society, editor of the Beauty Bible, blogger for The Scent Critic and writer for You Magazine. She also founded Green & Black’s and sold it to Cadbury. Jo handed me her card and my jaw dropped. I’d known all about her when I was at Lush. She was that legendary journalist who didn’t want to write about them. Claire placed an order and Jo reviewed Urura’s Tokyo Café on her blog. There was one moment when I realised I’d accidentally turned into a perfumer. It was the point where 60 people were sniffing a paper strip scented with Urura’s Tokyo Café, and smiling. That was a year and a half ago. It hasn’t been straightforward since then. New EU regulations severely restrict the use of beautiful natural materials like rose, jasmine, citrus fruits, oak moss and spices. Some are banned completely after over 2000 years of use. In the ultimate environmental irony, this only happened because green campaigners wanted safety tests performed on the synthetic materials in perfume, convinced that they were damaging the air we breathe. It turns out that the synthetics in use at the

moment are a great deal safer on the skin than many naturals. Mostly because the naturals are formed of many different odour molecules, some of them allergens, so they are more difficult to control. All the same, everyone in perfumery thinks that the EU has gone a little nuts; possibly someone in charge had a bad experience earlier in life with someone wearing too much Dior Poison. The barriers to entry, as they’re called in business strategy, are pretty high in perfumery. This is why around 90% of perfumes – including all the designer and celebrity ones - are made by the same five companies worldwide (except Miller Harris’s L’Air de Rien for Jane Birkin). But it’s also why indie and niche perfumers who do manage to squeeze themselves into the market have a small but solid fan base. People get tired of the same old pink fruity florals for women and blue watery citruses for men, just as they get tired of fast-food outlets and start to look for something more interesting. If you’re interested, have a look at

Basenotes.net. Here you’ll find a whole world of genuine perfume reviews away from magazines whose writers daren’t say a word against their advertisers. The perfume fans who run Basenotes are interested in the new and the unusual as well as the mainstream; they’ve written about me several times and this has made a real difference to the business. Twitter and the blogosphere are essential too. I sell about 50% of my scents through my website at the moment, with the help of Twitter and my Facebook page. During my year off I also taught a course on online marketing at my local university. I ended up writing a book: ‘Online Marketing in 7 Days! For people who can’t avoid it any longer’. I do try to follow my own guidelines, and they seem to be working. In the last year, I’ve worked with The Gin Garden, making perfumes with the same botanicals as Bombay Sapphire, I made the scent of the sea shore for the Memory Network’s


Proust event, the scent of the bottom of the ocean for Penning Perfumes, and scented the Glasgow School of Art with the smell of a tropical banana plantation for Rosie O’Grady, one of the Saatchi Gallery’s new young artists. In Manchester, I met Katie Piper and ran a workshop for her foundation for people who have had severe burns and are going through a series of operations to repair the damage. Working with Steph Singer’s Bitter Suite, I scented a Debussy string quartet for a live performance with the People Pile dance group. What next? Christmas. The time when most perfumes are bought and wrapped up. Then a year of West London workshops to help people understand more about the mysterious world of scent, and to make their own. More academic and arts collaboration and more scents to remind people of happy times. No one has offered to publish the novel yet. I might stick it on the website as a download.

Lord Henley History Collingwood 1972-75



A LIFE IN POLITICS >> Lord Henley...an introduction >> Oliver Eden, later Lord Henley was a founding member of Collingwood in 1972. He spent his first year (as did 66 others, the full complement of the ’72 entry) in Van Mildert and subsequent years in Collingwood itself. After leaving Durham he was called to the bar by the Middle Temple and in 1978 entered the House of Lords as a hereditary peer. In 1989 he entered the Whips’ Office before becoming

It used to be said that age was defined by the age of policemen. When you thought that policemen were looking younger, then you knew that you were getting old. I would suggest that the age of Prime Ministers, and your relationship to them, could be another useful means of assessing the ageing process, though it has been further complicated in the late twentieth century, and our own, by the steady decline in their ages. I was born during Winston Churchill’s second premiership. He first held that office at the age of 65. Attlee, Eden, Macmillan and Douglas Home were all in their late 50’s on becoming Prime Minister. All had held other posts beforehand. Wilson, Heath, Mrs Thatcher and Major were all a

a junior minister in what was then known as the Department of Social Security. Under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, Oliver served in a further three departments, Employment, Defence and Education, ending as a Minister of State in the last, as minister for Higher Education. In opposition he covered Education, Home Office, and Justice at various times, as well as serving as Opposition Chief Whip

little younger, though Callaghan was an exception in being older than his predecessor. In 1997 we saw a dramatic change with a new prime minister, Tony Blair, aged 45, followed by, after the brief Brown years, David Cameron at 44. Neither Blair nor Cameron had ever held office before, Cabinet or otherwise. If one ignores Ramsay Macdonald, that had not happened since Wellington in 1827, but then he had at least led some armies in the field, winning a few victories of some note. I make these points merely to make it clear that I am now old, Prime Ministers are young, and experience matters less than it did in the past. I had the privilege to serve under three Prime Ministers: Margaret


between 1998 and 2001 as the then Government took the first stage of the Lords reform through parliament. He returned to government in 2010 as a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, later being promoted to the Home Office. He left office in September 2012, as retiring ministers used to say, to spend more time with his family.

Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron, and also to observe from the opposition benches in the Lords, the governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Those three Conservative Prime Ministers all faced, or face, different challenges. Their majorities in the Commons differ at different times, and in the case of the present administration is such that a coalition government is necessary. This of course means each must work in a different way according to what is possible at any given time. Each had or has, of necessity, a different relationship with the ministers in their team and similarly with the Commons, both their own backbenchers and the

WOODWORDS Opposition. I was not in the Commons and so cannot speak of that but can talk from my own perspective of what it was like to work as a junior minister in the Lords under three rather different Prime Ministers. First, it is worth getting rid of some myths. The first and most important myth is that of Mrs Thatcher as a tyrant, imposing her views roughshod on the cabinet and all other ministers, brooking no argument. This is quite simply wrong. She wanted to be persuaded by argument. She wanted her ministers to know their stuff. What she could not take was the badly briefed (probably as a result of his own incompetence) minister who did little more than stick to the departmental line. As Lord Carrington put it, “People were somehow frightened about arguing with her. They didn’t realise that she loved an argument. She existed on arguments. It sharpened her wits and made her think about whether she was right or wrong. People who say you couldn’t change her mind were absolutely wrong...if you knew your stuff and you argued it, a) she quite enjoyed sharpening her wits and b) if she thought there was something in what you said then she did change her mind.” (The House Magazine April 2013). Allied to this is a belief that, with her large majorities, she felt that she could almost ignore Parliament. Here I would like to quote the then Speaker of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd, who spoke of their joint belief in the role that Parliament plays in our democracy and in its duty to hold the executive to account. Baroness Boothroyd quotes from Margaret Thatcher’s memoirs where she says that “nobody understands British politics who does not understand the House of Commons”. As Lady Boothroyd wryfully observes, that is often forgotten. It is not clear as to which subsequent Prime Minister that former Labour MP was referring. Secondly, a few comments on John Major’s administration which ended

Lord Henley speaks to Collingwood students about a life in politics.

in the calamitous election of May 1997, which left the Conservative party with 164 seat in the Commons and Tony Blair with an invincible majority despite having barely 40% of the vote, and certainly fewer votes than John Major had obtained in the 1992 election. The size of that Commons majority and the electoral


shift did lead to a certain amount of rewriting of history, particularly by the victors of that election. I would not want to see radical change to our electoral system which, in the main, produces results that satisfy the vast majority of the people, despite having an unfair bias towards the Labour party. But one must not let a result

FEATURE like 1997 allow certain commentators to paint a picture of a totally discredited government being thrown out with the overwhelming support of the British people. The voting figures in 1997 disprove that. Further, the idea that John Major’s government failed is simply untrue. There were major problems at the end, problems resulting from a dwindling majority, rows over Europe and the memories of the ignominious departure from the Exchange Rate Mechanism, entry to which had been enthusiastically supported by the Opposition in the months immediately after the 1992 election. What really ought to be remembered was the fact that following that departure, under the Chancellorships of Norman Lamont and Kenneth Clarke, the economy had steadily improved and we were able to hand on to the incoming Labour administration an economy in robust health and no deficit; there was in fact a surplus. Compare that to the position in 2010, when after all those years when Gordon Brown claimed to have abolished boom and bust, an incoming Chief Secretary to the Treasury should find a note from his Labour predecessor letting him know that “there is no money left”. History will in due course reassess John Major’s time as Prime Minister in a positive way. After thirteen years in opposition, I returned to government with the creation of the current coalition in 2010. Things were very different. First, from a personal point of view, I no longer found myself one of the younger members of the team but something of an old lag (with the exception of the House of Lords where I continue to be well below the average age). Further, many colleagues, the Prime Minister included, had no experience of government, other than in some cases as a special adviser. Secondly, this was to be the first peace time coalition government in living memory, and we would all have to

“After thirteen years in opposition, I returned to government with the creation of the current coalition in 2010. Things were very different. First, from a personal point of view, I no longer found myself one of the younger members of the team but something of an old lag.” find new ways of working with colleagues from parties other than our own. In the event, this has worked better than many expected with a real spirit of pragmatism breaking through much of the time, leading me, certainly, in many inter-ministerial meetings, to forget who came from which party. Thirdly, the media had changed a lot over the preceding years. This had started in the nineties but had accelerated in the earlier years of this century and will continue to do so. Put simply, it is no longer just a question of responding to the print media and putting in an appearance on the Today programme; we now have rolling news, 24 hours a day, on a vast array of radio and television channels, as well as a growth in the new forms of communication from Twitter onwards. Government needs to be much quicker and nimbler on its feet in its responses. And fourthly, Whitehall itself has changed. It is not just that so many departments have changed their names, had responsibilities moved to other departments whilst


gaining new ones, but at the same time its method of working has changed. Certain things have improved; I find individual departments talk to each other more, and thus see where their policies might affect others in a way that was not always the case in the past. On the other hand, the decision making process does seem to be slowing down. It might be that the two are connected. I left the government in the reshuffle of September 2012. At this stage, it would be wrong of me to make any comment on an administration which is still in office, and in which I served. I appreciate that this is not what all ex-ministers do, but I have always felt that one’s first judgement is most likely to be wrong, the same is true of the second and third. It all takes time. Ask me again in a few years. Then again remember the famous mistranslated quotation following Nixon’s visit to China, and his host’s alleged response that it was too early to comment on the effects of the French Revolution.

Harry Speak Geography Collingwood Third Year



RESEARCHING ENERGY IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY Throughout most of July and the very beginning of August 2013 I was lucky enough to be in South Africa, thanks in part to the Sara Pilkington Personal Development Fund. The aim of my trip was to conduct research for my Geography dissertation on the changing energy structure of Johannesburg in the context of the national policies on energy. It was whilst in a lecture that the idea of energy in a developing country first came to me as a potential topic for a dissertation. From there the idea began to grow and I realised that South Africa would be a fascinating country in which to do my research. Following extensive discussions with my Research Methods Tutor, I decided that investigating energy at the national scale was likely to be too big a task. However, with close friends living in Johannesburg and my own personal interest in cities, I decided to tailor my investigation to the energy structure and consumption of Johannesburg itself.

From the moment of my arrival in Johannesburg it was evident that the opportunity to actually be on site was going to be incredibly valuable. Whilst on the Gautrain on the way to my friends’ house from the airport, it was immediately possible to see the government supplied solar water heaters on the RDP housing (state funded accommodation). The reason for this initiative is that an estimated 35-40% of an energy bill is attributable to the costs of heating water. Thus, in an attempt to reduce the amount of energy being consumed for the purpose of providing hot water, the provision of solar water heaters for low income, state provided housing has been a nationwide policy. Had I not been able to see this first hand, it would have been very difficult to fully

appreciate the scale of this operation within the country. On my first day I noticed the front page of the newspaper was an article on the delays at Medupi, the new coal fired power station being developed in the Limpopo province, which was supposed to start providing 800MW to the grid earlier this year with the completion of the first stage (of a long term total of 4800MW). This highlighted what a critical issue energy security is in South Africa at the moment, as almost every day during my stay there was another piece on the topic in the paper. Not only this, but by being in the country I was also exposed to the radio advertisements by Eskom (the national energy provider), encouraging people to reduce their energy consumption to reduce the

The Sara Pilkington Personal Development Fund >> The Sara Pilkington Personal Development Fund has been established by the parents of Sara Pilkington, who sadly died in 2012. Jonathan and Jools always encouraged Sara to embrace opportunities which would develop her as a person, broaden her life experiences and give her a rich


understanding of the world around her. As Sara's opportunities to gain from such experiences were sadly cut short, her parents have chosen to establish this fund so that other Collingwood students can have access to similar character-building and life-affirming experiences.

strain on the grid, as well as adverts along the roads with a similar message regarding energy consumption over the winter months. However, the most valuable element of me being in the country was the opportunity to undertake face-to-face interviews with a range of different professionals with knowledge specific to the energy industry and to Johannesburg. One of the most interesting of these interviews was with a man who worked for the City of Joburg council, who had been involved in the city’s energy assessments and Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy through to 2040. I was also able to have a meeting with three members of the Gauteng City Region Observatory, a department affiliated to Wits University, who had some incredibly useful insights into the history of the city and the way in which the power grid has been stretched as urban sprawl has taken place. Furthermore, the direct meeting allowed me to gain access to some physical copies of reports they had produced which will certainly be of aid as I write up my dissertation. Aside from the dissertation focus of the trip, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Cape Town, where I was able to visit Robben Island. Given the state of Mandela’s health at the time of my visit, it was particularly interesting to see first-hand what he had been through for close to three decades in the fight for a just and racially equal South Africa. A talk by a former prisoner on his experiences and what life in the prison was really like was deeply moving and it was quite inspiring to see the reality of the sacrifice made to enter a new era for the country. Although not directly relevant to my investigation in itself, there are certainly aspects of the new era of governance arising in the postApartheid era that I may try to incorporate into the project. It was also very interesting to go to Cape Town and see the differences


between the city which is under the governance of the DA and Johannesburg which is ANC controlled. Again, this is something I will look to explore in my final project. Finally, I was fortunate enough to spend three nights on a game reserve which was quite an exceptional experience. Perhaps the highlight was watching a leopard cub stalk along a dried up river bed in an attempt to catch an impala, but despite closing the gap to only a few metres (without being detected), the young leopard was eventually unwilling to even give his luck a go and as a result the


impala herd calmly strolled away, oblivious to how life threatening their situation had been just moments before. Perhaps as an addendum to this was seeing a female leopard pinned in a tree as a lioness watched her expectantly from the bottom of the tree. However, these stand-offs have been known to last for days so I did not see the final outcome, though was later told that the lioness had left and the leopard had escaped without harm. I would like to express my deepest and most sincere gratitude to the Pilkington family for their support, and for setting up the Sara Pilkington


Personal Development Fund to allow students, such as myself, to have these life-affirming experiences. The experiences I was lucky enough to encounter on the game reserve are certainly memories that will stick with me for a long time to come, and the opportunity to conduct research for a project that I find absolutely stimulating and fascinating in the country itself is something I simply cannot even begin to quantify. I just hope that I am able to compile the abundance of information I have been exposed to into a wellconstructed and engaging final project!




Thanks to the generosity of one of our alumni, we have been able to establish a research internship programme for four students this summer and for each of the next two summers. >>

The scheme provides funds which pay a small salary to our students to work alongside Durham researchers over the summer vacation period. They have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of engaging with a senior academic, often as a member of a team involved in cutting edge research


projects and, in appropriate cases, gain access to highly specialist equipment and facilities. The first four Collingwood Research Interns completed their projects over the summer of 2013. To give a flavour of their experiences, extracts of their internship reports are shared here.



BAGENDON: THE BIRTH OF A CAPITAL? MATHIAS JENSEN In the summer of 2013, I was fortunate enough to be selected for a Collingwood College Undergraduate Research Internship. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to a very exciting and internationally important archaeological research project. I have no doubt that many of the skills that I picked up whilst collaborating on this research project will be invaluable in my future research career, which I have been dreaming of for much of my life. The existing Durham University research project that I collaborated on is called ‘Bagendon: The Birth of a capital?’ This project, run by Dr. Tom Moore of the Archaeology Department, explores the nature of power and identity in the later Iron Age of the Severn-Cotswolds by focusing on the site of Bagendon oppidum. Bagendon oppidum is a major Late Iron Age site in Gloucestershire, which has significant potential for understanding the beginning of urbanisation in preRoman Britain. The site has been studied on and off since the 1950’s and is now being excavated and surveyed as part of this major research project. During the many years of excavations and research, significant archaeological finds and data have been collected, but much of this information has yet to be fully analysed.

I started off the internship by analysing the soil samples taken from important archaeological features to determine where burning may have taken place on site and how the features were created. This analysis was done by a Loss on Ignition and Magnetic Susceptibility analysis. The other soil samples were wet sieved and then separated in order to identify if there was any burnt grain preserved on the site. The results from these analyses are incredibly vital to understanding what activities were taking place on site in terms of subsistence, industry, farming and perhaps ritual activities. Another major part of this internship was sorting and cataloguing the

I was fortunate to be able to actively contribute and collaborate on this research project in a variety of different areas, and much of my work was closely supervised by lecturers within the Archaeology Department, Dr. Tom Moore and Dr. Mike Church. By working on a variety of things I was able to learn a great deal about different archaeological methods, applications, and, of course, the results. I now feel confident that I would be able to pick up almost any archaeological skill and put it into practice and perhaps eventually lead my own archaeological research project.


artefacts found in the current excavation, as well as the unpublished 1980’s excavations. This work was laborious but incredibly interesting, as we cannot hope to understand anything about the site without the actual objects. These objects ranged from hundreds of nails, coins, knives, fittings, lead objects, blacksmithing tools, coin moulds, brooches, worked bone, jewellery, pottery, glass bangles, flint arrowheads and even fragments from a gorgeous Roman blue glass bowl. The cataloguing of these finds revealed the wide variety of features and activities that took place at the site 2000 years ago - from farming, hunting and blacksmithing, to carpentry, jewellery making, coin production and just general domestic

WOODWORDS life. Analysis of the artefacts also revealed the wide trade networks that were exploited - some objects coming from hundreds of miles away.

season of excavation really enhanced our understanding of the site even if, as per usual, the season ended with more questions than answers.

The internship culminated in my participation on the excavation of the Middle Iron Age part of the site for one week. It was fantastic to actually get out into the field so I can really understand how the results from the soil analysis and the artefacts related to what was actually there. The excavation was incredibly fun and interesting even if it did involve digging in 30째 C degree weather for 8 hours - but as an archaeologist that is what I love! The results from this

All of the results that I worked on during this internship will be published as part of the site monograph, in which I will be an author. This represents a fantastic and very rare opportunity to contribute to a publication as an undergraduate, which will look great for when I apply for research positions. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that this internship has provided me. Many of the experiences and skills I picked up will

Sorted soil samples.


certainly enhance my job and future study potential. This internship has given me the knowledge and confidence to work as part of a larger academic based research project and importantly be an active contributor and leader, not just a participant. Already, because of this internship, I have been accepted onto a Masters Course in Prehistoric Archaeology at Aarhus University in Denmark and I was hired to be a supervisor on an Iron Age research excavation also, in Denmark. My hope, though, is to return to Durham to do my PhD in a few years time, with the added benefit of having done this research internship and studied overseas.

FEATURE JACK BARNSDALE ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE Project: Bioimage informatics approach for functional analysis of spatiotemporal dynamics and regulation of actin cytoskeleton in different membrane systems. During my internship I supported a microbiology research group at the University by developing image analysis software for a number of projects, initially starting with tracking pollen in plant membrane systems. I cannot express my gratitude enough

for the opportunity the donor has given me. This internship has been incredibly rewarding and I am hopeful it will open up further opportunities that would otherwise not have been possible. My journey towards a career in research has begun, and I couldn't have done it without them. Thank you. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Boguslaw Obara, for his invaluable guidance, enthusiasm, and patience. Working with Boguslaw has been a very positive experience and I

hope to continue to do so. My thanks also to Patrick Duckney, who allowed me to contribute to his research. Finally, I would like to thank the staff at Collingwood College, who organised the research internships for myself and my fellow students, alongside countless other generous gifts that make our university life about much more than just getting a degree. They have proven time and time again that our community spirit is second to none.

“During my internship I supported a microbiology research group at the University by developing image analysis software for a number of projects.�

SAMUEL SPENCER FOUNDATION PHYSICS Project: Multi wavelength study of galactic supernova remnants and prospects for CTA. Personally, this internship has been extremely beneficial. Aside from vastly improving my independent

research skills; I have refined my skills at writing programs in both Python and C++, using the ROOT environment and using powerful cluster computers. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the generous

Collingwood donor, and Collingwood College for providing support throughout the process. I'd also like to express my gratitude to the entire gamma-ray astronomy group for their invaluable assistance throughout the eight weeks.

TOM BARDSLEY ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE Project: Vision Processing Algorithms with Raspberry Pi Robots. This research project within the Computer Science Department involved creating and implementing algorithms for an autonomous Raspberry Pi robot so that using a video camera feed, it can determine its location. A large part of doing research is to overcome technical obstacles and

problems. It is only natural that these will occur and it requires enough confidence to resolve them yourself via reading papers, forums, internet research, discussion with other colleagues, and then as a last resort, seeking help from the supervisor. Initially, this was quite challenging, but as the weeks went on, I became more comfortable working like this. Sometimes it was necessary for my


supervisor to give me a pointer and with this I was able to solve the issues. The internship was a valuable and insightful opportunity. It has highlighted the importance of university research and given me first-hand experience of working in this environment. This will undoubtedly benefit me in my subsequent years at Durham, specifically in my final year when an individual project is a key component of the course.

Collingwood College South Road Durham DH1 3LT 0191 334 5000 Principal: Professor Joe Elliott Email: joe.elliott@durham.ac.uk Vice Principal: Victoria Ridley Email: f.v.ridley@durham.ac.uk Assistant Principal: Dr Mark Woolmer Email: mark.woolmer@durham.ac.uk Alumni Office Emma Brownlow Email: collingwood.alumni@durham.ac.uk 0191 334 5172 Collingwood College Alumni @Cwood_alumni Collingwood College, subgroup of Durham University www.durham.ac.uk/collingwood/alumni collingwood.alumni@durham.ac.uk