Keeping Up Appearances Pembroke Sofa-d
The Life of The Ignorance Damon Wells Chapel of Bliss – A Secret Heart
Pembroke’s Hidden Treasures
Pembroke’s Productive Producers
ISSUE NO. 34 - JULY 2010
Contents Keeping up appearances Pebroke Sofa-d
3 Ignorance of Bliss
Life as an Undergraduate 1930-1960 5 Jo Church 6 Pembroke’s Hidden Treasures
Gallery Catering for Change John Church
8 We Ain’t What We Ought To Be
Sue Mortimer (1986)
9 One Small Step – Nothing is impossible 24
Toby Hulse (1985)
10 Crystal Clinical Scholarships
Aravinthan Varatharaj (2004)
There is such a thing as a free lunch
A Jordanian Perspective on the Pivotal Byrd, Bairstow and Banter in Barcelona 13 Role of the Central Bank Sam Baker (2009)
Andrew Kirk (1988)
Anything But Clothes: Pembroke Arts Week
Tales from the Telethon
Change and Continuity
The Life of the Damon Wells Chapel – A Secret Heart
Dr Umayya Toukan (1980)
14 Pembroke’s Productive Producers
Ramya Arnold (2008)
Unique Dining Opportunity Refurbishment of the Hall, kitchens and Forte Room is now well underway with completion expected early next year. Under floor heating will replace the old central heating pipes in the Hall and serving counters will be hidden away in our new servery. A lift will provide much needed disabled access and there will be a brand new bar in the crypt. The contractors have uncovered many hidden treasures including lovely stonework and brick arches which the college aims to keep. In the meantime we are able to offer visitors to Pembroke a unique experience of private dining in the SCR. This charming room will seat a maximum of 26 and is the perfect setting for a private dinner. Menus and wine list are available on request and accommodation can be booked during the vacations. Please contact Heather Earwicker on 01865 276484 for more details.
KEEPING UP By Andrew Seton Strategic Development Director
We continue to try, in our Development Office’s twin tasks of ‘hosting’ and ‘communicating’, to display the best of Pembroke to the best of Pembroke. Last year, we drew our public’s attention to our wonderful green spaces. This past 12 months, we have had to put on a brave face while living with the extensive building refurbishment in the Hall and kitchens. I think we are feeling a little smug about this, because most of the green spaces have been unaffected by the gutting operation going on and much of life continues as normal. Although the College now provides a temporary home for a family of portakabins, bolted together and occupying the North Quad, this charming ensemble does not, as you might expect from its appearance, serve as a place for builders and decorators to relax over a mug of strong tea: it is our dining hall. You may gasp when you see that picture of it being hoisted into position, hovering perilously close to the roof of the newly-named Samuel Johnson Building, but we have managed to use it successfully so far for a memorable Gaudy and this year’s Tesdale Lunch. Our thanks to all who came and enjoyed the lunch in spite of this setback to our appearance, obviously trusting us to provide more than a fry-up or cling-film wrapped sandwich. Indeed I believe those intrepid folk who showed up will agree that the food was entirely out of character with the interior, which one guest commented made him feel he was on a crosschannel ferry – except, he conceded, for the works borrowed from the JCR Art Collection which adorn the walls (we could scarcely hang the old portraits of former Masters and benefactors in a place like this). Talking of the JCR Art Collection, I am minded to call 2009/10 the “Year of the Bullfrog”, with apologies to our sinologists, present and
was nominated for an Oscar. Not bad as an evening’s entertainment. The discussion with the audience concluded with some fascinating exchanges about what Oxford had done for everyone, as if that wasn’t obvious from the astonishing mix of talent seated on the sofa.
past, who know very well that we should be talking tigers this year. Pembroke’s beautiful bronze mascot made a triumphal return to the Emery Gallery from its own refurbishment at the hands of its creator at the end of last academic year. Since then its presence has been celebrated more than once: firstly, as a centre-piece in the launch party for a brilliant new initiative of our undergraduates called FOPA (Friends of Pembroke Art) which aims to promote the Collection and fine art more actively, getting these the attention they deserve throughout the College; secondly, as the inspiration for the launch of a remarkable new student publication going by the same name. There have now been two editions of the new Bullfrog, a revival of a Pembroke student magazine which first saw the light of day in the 1960s and had as much heavy intellectual content as humorous. This Bullfrog is colourful, well-produced, rich in subjectmatter and thoroughly readable – a worthy successor to its earlier namesake and a stunning complement, or even dare I say it, competitor to the Pembrokian. Long may it continue. That FOPA’s objectives have taken hold is evidenced by the prominent place occupied by art in Bullfrog’s pages. While the work goes on to restore our Hall and kitchens, we have continued with our events in London. On top of a memorable Reception at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and an English Subject Reunion at Dr. Johnson’s house (where else could we go for this in the great man’s tercentenary in 2009?), City Breakfasts continue to lure traders, bankers, lawyers, consultants and journalists from their desks at an ungodly hour. After continuing
with the meltdown theme early this year, the latest Breakfast featured our extraordinary reserve of alumni and friends with direct exposure to matters Middle Eastern: Dr. Umayya Toukan (1980), Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan, was joined by Prince Khaled bin Bandar (1996), Chairman of Dayim Holdings in Saudi Arabia and Edward Oakden, until recently UK Ambassador to the UAE, on a panel of speakers moderated by our own new Senior Research Fellow in Arabic, Lis Kendall (1989). Dr. Toukan writes more in these pages about his work as Governor in a country which seriously values the independence of its banking regulator. And since 7:30 a.m. is not everyone’s glass of orange juice, we also tried something completely different in the shape of “Pembroke on the Sofa”, a live evening chat-show hosted by Tanya Beckett (1984), she of BBC World Business, at the front-line Club in Paddington. Tanya’s guests were Tim Richardson (1986), he of last year’s Pembrokian feature on our gardens and the UK’s leading historian of sweets, Gordon Rayner (1988), political editor of the Telegraph and an expert on MPs’ expenses, as well as Daniel Jewel (2000), whose short film Sidney Turtlebaum
These pages will once again reassure you that life goes on here, even if big changes are afoot and we have to endure some discomfort. We celebrate the rich life of the Chapel with a piece by Andrew Teal, our Chaplain, while historian Stephen Tuck writes on his book about civil rights in America; you can read more about what is going on in, and under, the Hall while there is more unearthing going on elsewhere - in our archives - and yet more in the series on our 18th century luminaries, in the shape of a piece on astronomer royal Nathaniel Bliss (1716). Finally, you were right to give a sceptical chuckle when I described our role in Development as just “hosting” and “communicating”. We have been doing the other thing too: we held our third successful annual telephone campaign in March (see Catherine McMillan’s Tales from the Telethon), raising well over £200,000 for the Annual Fund. And it is with a mixture of pride and intense gratitude to all those incredibly generous alumni who have so far contributed to early-stage funding of the new buildings, that I remind you that our Governing Body gave the project a green light in May and we will be choosing our contractors this autumn. There is a second more public phase of fundraising ahead of us but its shape can now be better defined and those who participate will be able to enjoy the parallel sight of buildings, quads and bridge all going up as their contributions roll in. What more can I say than: see you at the Launch of our Campaign– and sofa, so good!
Gallery 1 English Reception at Dr Johnson’s House 2 3rd City Breakfast at Walbrook Club 3 Pembroke on the Sofa at the Frontline Club 4 Forty Years On Reunion in College 5 Alumni Reception at Lords’ Cricket Ground 6 Gaudy (1992-1994) 7 1959 Reunion Dinner 8 Varsity Rugby at Twickenham 9 Gaudy (1985-1988)
10 2nd City Breakfast at the Walbrook Club
CATERING FOR CHANGE The Collegeâ€™s exciting expansion plans are now underway with the major refurbishment of the Kitchen/Hall Building. By John Church Bursar
The Hall dates back to the mid nineteenth century, and this will be the first major refurbishment ever undertaken. Although the kitchens were updated in the post-war period, and maintenance has been ongoing, we had reached the stage where a major upgrade was required. However, we decided to go much further to improve the facilities on offer and, most importantly, to enable us to cater for much higher numbers of students and visitors in the light of the College’s plans for new buildings in Brewer Street. Working with our architects Berman Guedes Stretton, and consulting closely with the relevant College staff, plans were developed and agreed with the City Conservation Officer which incorporate a number of important changes to the layout of the building. A servery will be created in the area between the Hall and the College’s boundary on St Ebbe’s, which will be accessed through Screens Passage with diners then entering the Hall directly by way of a new doorway, which will be created from the existing panelling. The servery will include the Kitchen, which means that food will be delivered much more quickly and piping hot! All this will improve the service for both informal and formal halls and we will also be able to have two sittings in one evening, should the need arise. Every effort has been made to preserve the main Hall with little change except that under floor heating will be installed and the original tiles, which have been carefully lifted and individually numbered, will then be restored and reinstated. The new arrangement also means that the cumbersome and rather unsightly serving trolleys which have been used in recent years will no longer be
Up and over – the temporary dining facility is installed in North Quad
needed, removing a lot of clutter from the back of the Hall and Screens Passage, which will now become a very elegant entrance area. The Forte Room will also be upgraded and expanded. Below the Hall, the layout will be changed to provide a modern food preparation area with the necessary store rooms together with a brand new College Bar. This will extend under the whole length of the Hall and will have the style of a cellar bar. It will be much larger than the current bar, and this will also help to accommodate the larger number of resident students on the College main site, once the new building has been completed. There will be a number of further improvements to the facilities in the building, including two lifts, which will greatly improve the access for everyone and wheelchair users in particular. As the work required the whole building to be closed down, the first step was to think about the ways in which the College’s catering operations could continue. A number of options were considered but it was decided that the best way would be to install a temporary Kitchen/Hall facility in North Quad. This was no trivial undertaking as the facility was made up of 11 units, each of which had to be lifted by a giant crane from the front of the College over the Samuel Johnson Building and then bolted together in situ. We decided to have the facility installed in the first week of January 2010, before the start of term, and to add extra spice to the enterprise, our chosen dates coincided with a major snowfall. However, to their credit, the team shrugged off this inconvenience and the installation was completed as planned, with relatively
New bar under construction
few heart-stopping moments for the on looking Fellows and staff! Attention then turned back to the main project. The College sought competitive tenders from a number of construction firms and, at the end of this process, a long established local firm, Benfield and Loxley, was chosen. Work started in March and, at the time of going to press (early June) steady progress is being made. To our relief, once it was opened up, there were no major nasty surprises in the condition of the building, although with a refurbishment of this kind, issues can always arise at a later stage. One pleasant surprise was that a number of features dating back to the original Victorian building were revealed, and we are now looking at ways in which they can be incorporated into the design of the new College Bar area. Inevitably, the closure of the Kitchen/Hall has presented challenges on a day to day basis. All credit must go to the Home Bursar, Daren Bowyer, and his team for stepping up to the challenge of providing the existing catering operation in a much smaller and temporary facility. College members have also been tolerant of the temporary arrangements, but it has worked out well that the project will straddle two academic years, so no one fresher year group will miss out completely on the dining experience in the main Hall. All being well, the building will be re-opening with all its new facilities during Hilary Term 2011.
Temporary Dining Facility
Pembroke Revisited Returning to Oxford for a college reunion some twenty years after graduating proved to be more of an emotionally charged experience than I had been expecting. As my coach rumbled slowly through the city-centre traffic before disgorging me outside Pembroke, I began to feel mildly nervous. This angst increased as I checked into college and stepped into my old room. Despite its makeover - most rooms are now en suite, no more open showers and foot fungus for today’s students - I was instantly transported back 24 years to my first day, when after my kind parents had bid me goodbye, I sat in my room, sad, lonely and scared, contemplating my next move.
By Sue Mortimer (née Berrie) Modern Languages (1986)
There was of course little to worry about today as I was soon hailed by a voice from the past in the lodge, and a wonderful long-lost friendship was instantly revived. We scanned the list of names and were delighted to see that some of those from our old circle of friends would be there. Looking as serious as candidates for death row but with 1980’s big hairdos, our photos had been dug out from an archive dating back to our Oxford applications and prominently displayed on a noticeboard. Things could only get better... The afternoon was spent mooching around coffee shops with a couple of lively little reunions, and then a brief foray into the recently rejuvenated premises of the Ashmolean Museum. I then slipped into something a little less comfortable but much more elegant and joined a group in the Chapel for a fest of divine singing, liturgy and reminiscence which focused the mind and elated the soul. A fine April evening meant that the champagne reception could be held against the backdrop of old buildings and beautifully tended gardens in Chapel Quad. The hall is being refurbished so our delicious three-course meal, accompanied by copious liquid refreshment, was served in a temporary facility in North Quad, or a ‘Portakabin’ as a few remarked. As the lights were dimmed we soon forgot our surroundings and focused on each other.
Seeing so many familiar faces from a previous era felt like we had passed into an after-life, our imagination no doubt fuelled by a vapour of port. We were all still the same, but somehow different. Our time in college seemed so sheltered now as we looked back before life in the outside world had begun. Some of us were bankers, others television presenters, journalists, high-ranking civil servants, and there were positive stories from all walks of life. There were plenty of photos of young families, and one participant was heavily pregnant with her third child. It seemed that mercifully few of us had encountered real tragedy in our lives. After the meal and an entertaining speech from one of the Fellows, the group retreated for more drinks and banter to the Junior Common Room, where we chatted until late into the night. Breathing in the evening air in Chapel Quad, we talked of privilege, a theme echoed over breakfast the following morning. We were from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from top public schools to state comprehensives, yet our lives had been touched by the same wand. Despite reminiscences of drunken antics, essays completed in a rush, turning up for tutorials still attired in black tie after a long night celebrating, we were all struck by how privileged we had been to spend our student days in this ethereal place. We briefly sat together in the timid spring sunshine, humbled by the sense of interwoven beauty and tradition, and buoyed up by the camaraderie of shared experience. A quick glance at our watches confirmed it was time to move on. Roll on the next Gaudy!
Tales from the Telethon By Catherine McMillan, Deputy Development Director
Reminiscences shared about sneaking back into College after curfew through windows and over walls. Stories exchanged of Tutors, past and present – and of Porters. Memories recalled of “The Who”playing Pembroke Ball in the early 1960s. Comparisons made of interview processes – more formal now than in the days of a glass of sherry and a chat about boxing. Stunts recounted – abseiling down the front wall of Staircase 9 and target practice using King James’ nose. Advice for life relayed – the dangers of rhododendrons and the plague of the squirrel. Unlikely friendships struck up with partners of alumni who work late and are tricky to get hold of. These are the tales of the average Pembroke telethon! Of course there are many reasons for holding our Annual Fund telethons, but the stories which the student callers hear from alumni across the globe and spanning all ages are why they enjoy it so much. The discovery of the diversity of what “life after Pembroke” can mean is the other oft-cited appeal factor for taking part. It’s amazing how much useful careers advice and networking can take place in our humble call room in the fortnight of the campaign…
to provide tutorial teaching and maintain our infrastructure, to the small grants made to set up the Dance Club and relaunch the Pembroke Bullfrog magazine. All of our student callers have been helped by Annual Fund donations, and they were sincere in their message of “every little helps” when asking for contributions. It was wonderful to see 60% of those contacted giving something – from those who could afford £100 a month to those who could afford 50p a month! All these gifts combined together to give a total amount pledged of £214,310. This fabulous generosity was further enhanced by a group of matching donors who have made a gift equivalent to the first year of contributions from all those who agreed to give a regular monthly or annual donation.
This matching gift of £46,000 gives another tremendous boost to this year’s Fund, and reminds us all of the importance which our larger donors place on seeing everyone making a contribution on a regular basis, regardless of how much. So a huge THANK YOU to all who made an Annual Fund gift during this telethon. And also to those who were not in a position to support with money this year, but who took the time to chat to a student and to help them with advice or amuse them with stories. And to those who we disturbed at a bad time, in the middle of bathing your children, baking your bread, roasting your chicken, attending your weekly Tranmere Rovers match, conducting your latest archaeological dig in Qatar or attending your cousin’s wedding in Australia… our apologies – we will try again another year!
In March 2010 another twelve intrepid students took to the phones in an effort to contact as many as possible from a list of 1,600 alumni. This year many of those we set out to speak to were based overseas – from Croatia to China, South Africa to Singapore, Norway to New Zealand. There were a few language barriers along the way, and we flushed out quite a few wrong numbers, but in the end 560 conversations took place. The students were able to give an update of current news and events at Pembroke, and to answer questions about what their experiences at College are really like these days. The telethon was also about explaining and raising money for the Annual Fund. This supports the full range of Pembroke activities, from the large amounts needed
THE LIFE OF THE DAMON WELLS CHAPEL A Secret Heart
By Reverend Dr Andrew Teal
Walking into College from St Aldate’s is like stepping into a different place and time from a modern city centre. The warm Cotswold stone, as well as soaking up sunlight to radiate back onto the gardener’s plants in the micro-climate of the quads, also acts to block out the bustle and noise of the town.
Even on the grimmest or busiest days, those who work here know that it’s a fantastic privilege to be in this place. The short progress around Old Quad, leads to the arch which frames the vision of Chapel Quad. But it’s the Hall that dominates the view – and looks far more ecclesiastical than the Damon Wells chapel. Set on the margins, set back from the view, on the left, is a sober rectangular building, whose exterior seriousness evaporates when one enters the chapel… if you can find the lights! Then there is a cascade of decoration: the exuberantly carved wonderful organ, dark paneling, cornucopias of stucco flowers, dark stained glass with kings, biblical figures and church fathers, gilded statues of Old Testament prophets and New Testament Saints, all contribute to an intimate, slightly exotic place, far from the processes of modern education, from the laboratory or the on-line Journals, from
Higher Education policies with complex funding issues, accountability, and transparency. You might be forgiven for thinking that the chapel actually stands for the heart of the College, a secret heart where there can be shadows, echoes of other ages, inarticulate connections with generations of other students and teachers, part of a stream of persons. All very romantic and spiritual, perhaps, but palpable in stone and wood, light and shade. Rarely is this more evident than when there are Gaudies, or weddings, or baptisms of those connected with the College across different decades – and that is always a celebration of the College, and an epiphany of what the chapel signifies: it inspires many people, and means a host of different things, as a recent Gaudy night revealed when a former Organ Scholar had arranged a choir of former
choristers, and sang superbly. One can’t really make sense of the chapel without admitting that it is a manifestation of the past – an architectural and liturgical reconstruction of an idea of Christendom. In fact Oxford’s architecture, its sights, sounds, and feeling reach back to Christendom’s height, and each college had a chapel until and after the Reformation. Pembroke’s formation under James I initially didn’t have a chapel building within the campus, but used St Aldate’s Church. I’m grateful that a former chaplain, the Revd Dr John Platt, has collaborated with Brian Wilson to produce a short guide to The Damon Wells Chapel building, translating the ubiquitous Latin mottos, and exploring and explaining the architecture for the modern visitor. The building of the Damon Wells Chapel in its present site, albeit with much simpler
interior decoration than now, made Pembroke like other colleges in that regard. So the chapel is now a magnet for visitors, offering an insight into another age’s expressed values, of faith, mystery and transcendence. It’s also the location for students to drop in for a bit of peace or perspective, a place for music practice and performance, and a place which can inspire, a place in particular that a lively and growing Choir have made their own. The construction of an idea of the past is what draws visitors to the City and University, but many assumptions of that history would be difficult to justify today – one cost of that was the exclusion of non-Christians as students or teachers, and after the Reformation and Settlement, non-Anglicans were not matriculated until the nineteenth century. The University still admits students to the MA with a bible in the name of the Holy Trinity. One can reasonably wonder how a case could possibly be made to protect the exclusive Anglican emphasis of most Oxford Colleges; the justice of many new-atheists’ objections that this can’t be fair seem self-evident – witness the strong
arguments of Richard Dawkins and powerful prose of Philip Pullman. We’re not in post-war England, many students are from other faiths than Anglican Christianity, or indeed not religious at all – the pattern of a chaplain simply to continue the model of a public-school chaplain can’t be viable. The chaplain is part of a team of trusted people, the Welfare team, available to everyone, staff and students, he also teaches Theology (and Greek), but these aren’t distinctively priestly tasks – ‘Why have a priest?’ one may justifiably ask. Were chapel life exclusive in a sectarian sense, there would indeed be serious objections, which the chaplain himself would voice. As it is, the main College service has speakers from world faiths and a variety of traditions pepper the termly services – Jewish, Hindu, Quaker, Catholic, non-Conformists, next term a Muslim Imam – the chapel hosts debates between atheists and Christian Apologists (this year between Professors Atkins and Swinburne), it hosts concerts and services, with the aim of contributing to a culture of tolerance and attentive respect to the religious and social differences which are part and parcel of a multi-faith college. Religion does very bad
things to some very good people – but there are others who model a healthy religion, or whose service and life are inspired, directly or indirectly, by streams of wisdom nurtured by faith. That’s why, in a world where ideologies are always viewed as suspect, where religions can be the source of human suffering and hurt as much as conveyors of the hope of human flourishing, there is a place for a chapel, on the sidelines, modeled on different values, provoking us to consider that one day, the assumptions and conventions which steer our lives may be judged as archaic or eccentric. Marginal might be not just refreshingly different, but have an authenticity and honing power, steeped by centuries of stillness, music, exploration and spirituality, at home with shadow, nurturing patience and tolerant openness. This - I think is why people have been and remain very open to the Chapel, very generous in their support of it in time and money, because the Collegiate University has to know and celebrate its heart, even as it crowns its celebrated head.
Change and Continuity... By Andrew Kirk Organ Scholar (1988-1991)
Byrd, Bairstow and Banter in Barcelona Pembroke Choir Tour 2010 By Sam Baker, Organ Scholar 2009-12
Pembroke College Chapel Choir 1991 – recording session in Mansfield College Chapel.
Pembroke College Chapel Choir – 1990 Just before Boys Choir was disbanded
What comes to mind when you think of Damon Wells Chapel? Perhaps it will be the outside view of the building in Chapel Quad, with the classical style stone exterior of 1732.
singing the top line in the chapel choir who were mostly pupils at New College School (see photo). This initiative was started in 1968 when the then all male college choir was able to expand its repertoire. Due to a number of factors, not least that we had a large number of talented sopranos, the boys choir was disbanded in 1990. This was the end of an era but the musical tradition at Pembroke continues to flourish to this day with its mixed voice choir, its tours and recordings.
Perhaps it is inside, with the extravagant Victorian decoration and kaleidoscopic stained glass? It might also be memories of attending a religious service or concert, the sound of the choir or organ scholar practising? It could be silence and stillness? At a recent 1984-88 Gaudy, a small alumni choir of eight singers was formed to sing at the service. Many of us who were present at that service could recall how pivotal the Damon Wells Chapel was to our student lives. The Chaplain, Andrew Teal, kindled fond memories in his homily - that sense of fellowship and deep friendships which have endured. Revd John Platt led the prayers and gave us a sense of the continuity of worship in the chapel over the years. In his excellent post dinner talk, Dr Mark Fricker spoke about the changes and continuity of student life at Pembroke over the past twenty years – in the late 80s there were no student mobile phones, few computers, no en suites, not much CCTV or any security keys for the doors but we were allowed to make toast in our rooms! Many central aspects of student life have endured – the intense eight week terms, friendships, networking, the College buildings in their attractive surroundings. How privileged we were to share in this Oxford experience. The Damon Wells Chapel too reveals the change and continuity. When I started as Organ Scholar in 1988 we had boy trebles
For ten years we secured the services of Mr Terence Carter MA FRCO as Assistant Organist whilst his three sons sang in the choir. Terence returned again on Gaudy night to accompany the choir – just like old times! The superb new pipe organ from Canadian firm Letourneau was installed in 1995 after an organ appeal. A generous anonymous benefactor offered half the money towards the costs. The lighting of the chapel has improved but in essence, there is a timeless quality about Damon Wells Chapel which those of us who participated in the Gaudy Service were able to recall with affection. The Chaplain told us that we were the first choir in recent memory to sing at a Gaudy – I wonder if other year groups might be able to share in making this a Pembroke tradition?
The whirlwind tour of the College Chapel Choir this year happened in the first weekend of our Easter vacation in sunny and beautiful Barcelona. Thanks to our Barcelona resident Oriol Valenti-Vidal (Erasmus ’09-10), we were able to sing for Mass services at the two most prestigious places of worship – Gaudi’s monumental church of the Sagrada Familia and the magnificent gothic Cathedral. The choir also gave a concert of English Choral Music at the St Just-i-Pastor, a stunning Basilica in the central gothic part of the city. Our epic English programme, offered the Mediterranean-Catholic ear a taste of some highlights of our Island’s choral musical heritage, from Byrd to Bairstow, via Tallis and Tavener, without forgetting Purcell, Stanford, and the Vaughn-Williams Mass in g minor. Every voice contributed to the success of this most brilliant adventure. The choir is going from strength to strength. Our achievements are measured by the sheer enthusiasm and commitment of our members, without whose voices, personalities and banter, the choir would simply not exist. The Choir are extremely grateful to the College Annual Fund and the JCR for their support financially.
Andrew Kirk was Organ Scholar at Pembroke from 1988-1991. After graduation, he spent 2 years in Perth Western Australia as Assistant Organist at the Cathedral before returning to the UK. He enjoyed nine years in Sheffield before moving to Bristol in 2003 to be Director of Music at the historic church of St Mary Redcliffe. The famous pipe organ there is nearing the end of an £800,000 restoration programme.
Anything but Clothes By Ramya Arnold (2008), JCR President
Pembroke Arts Week
Every Trinity Term, the JCR music and drama reps along with the entz reps organise a fun-filled week of artistic activities as 3rd week is deigned Arts Week. This year we had to work with a few constraints in terms of the hall renovation, but thanks to the gorgeous weather we were blessed with all week long, this was not too problematic and there was no need to call upon our contingency plans! The week kicked off with a salsa display and workshop which saw 2nd year Polly Jarman, who is also the women’s captain of the Oxford University Salsa Team, show off her latest routine and enlist some of her Salsa Team partners to teach a group of undergraduates the basics of salsa. The keen students managed to pick up 3 classes worth of moves in just an hour and a number of them came away bitten by the salsa bug! In order to infuse some creativity into our fortnightly college bops, we set a theme of ‘Anything But Clothes’. This meant students had to make an outfit from any material apart from standard clothing, spawning costumes of newspaper, bubble wrap, duvet covers and more. The bop was one of the most well-attended of the term and will now be immortalised on the JCR notice-board
as 2nd year Adam Lindley kindly captured professional photos for us. We took advantage of the afternoon sun to bring students out on the quad for a ‘Crafternoon’ which involved making minisculptures from willow and tissue paper and on Thursday the welfare team laid on a ‘kid’s tea party’ at the sports ground with both a bouncy castle and circus skills performers providing hours of entertainment for all. On the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday, the JCR was transformed into a theatre as the stage was set for the Chess Under-21 National Tournament, the backdrop of ‘The Lonely Grid’, a play written and directed by Ellie Higgins and Jenny Crane. The play saw the young protagonist, played by our very own JCR secretary and self-confessed geek Matt Bird, rekindle his love for the ancient game of chess as he tried to win the heart of a fellow chess-loving teenager, played by 1st year Izzy Whitting. The comedy certainly went down a storm, with no end of chess puns and the requisite group dance pleasing the crowds as they saw their friends make cameos in entirely unexpected roles! So great was the reception that there have been calls for ‘The Lonely Grid 2’ in the near future.
The annual art competition, run by the JCR Art Fund committee had some wonderful entrants this year, ranging from a video loop to abstract landscapes. The winner of the competition was judged by the artist Revd. Toddy Hoare who admired the precision of fresher Matilda Smith’s pencil use in the portrait of her father she produced. The photo competition equally received a wide range of submissions, which were displayed outside Len’s bar and judged by the man himself. The culmination of Arts Week this year was a ‘Sensory Feast’ on Saturday night. The JCR committee pulled in as many favours as they could to provide a night of free entertainment on Chapel Quad. We garnered outstanding musicians from within Pembroke as well as comedy acts and a cappella groups from across the university, as students gathered on picnic baskets to enjoy the barbecue and cocktails on offer including Moscow Mules and Mojitos. This was the first time such an event was held on this scale in Pembroke and judging by the positive reviews - we were even unexpectedly mentioned in the Cherwell student newspaper for the wonderful atmosphere on the night - we hope to have started a new Pembroke tradition.
Ignorance of By Robin Wilson Stipendiary Lecturer in Pure Mathematics
If you go into the Samuel Johnson building at Pembroke College you will see on the left, just past the door, a tiny etching of a bewigged reverend gentleman, over the inscription: ‘Nath.l Bliss A M. Professer of Astronomy at Oxford. F. R. S Obit 1764 a’tet 64.’ Around his head is the assertion: ‘This sure is Bliss, if Bliss on Earth there be.’ But who was Nathaniel Bliss, where did the engraving come from, and is this description of him correct?
Portrait of Bliss (from the National Maritime Museum)
Nathaniel Bliss was born on 28 November 1700 in the village of Bisley, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, the son of a clothier. He matriculated at Pembroke College on 10 October 1716 at age 15 (not an unusual age for the time), and received his B.A. degree in June 1720 and his M.A. in 1723. In 1736 he became Rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford. Passionately interested in mathematics and the sciences, and especially in astronomy, Bliss was appointed to Oxford’s Savilian Chair of Geometry (not Astronomy) on 18 February 1742, following the death of the previous geometry professor Edmond Halley (of comet fame), and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May of the same year. For the last twenty-two years of his life, Halley had also held the position of Astronomer Royal at the observatory in Greenwich. Oxford’s Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the time was James Bradley, who then succeeded Halley as Astronomer Royal. Bradley knew Isaac Newton, and his version of the gravity story (possibly gleaned from Newton himself) was:
The Manner of its being discovered was thus, Sr. Isaac Newton sitting in his Garden saw something, probably a Leaf, fall from a Tree, which described a curved line . . . – not an apple in sight! Bliss attended many of Bradley’s science lectures at the Old Ashmolean (the oldest university museum in the world, and now the Museum of the History of Science) in Broad Street. Over the coming years Bliss and Bradley worked together on a number of projects at Greenwich, and Bliss carried out observations of the transit of Venus on 6 June 1761 when Bradley was too ill to do so himself. In Oxford, Bliss established his own astronomical observatory by attaching instruments to part of the old city wall which extended from the New College cloisters to his Savilian professor’s house (which still exists) in New College Lane; his meridian mark was on All Souls College. At part of his professorial duties, Bliss gave lectures to small groups of scholars at his house in New College Lane; these covered a range of topics on mathematics and the
Engraving of Bliss (in the Samuel Johnson building in Pembroke College)
sciences, as outlined in his advertisement on page 17. But not everyone was enthusiastic about Bliss’s efforts: as Jeremy Bentham, the future philosopher and social reformer, then a 15-year-old commoner at The Queen’s College, reported to his father:
We have gone through the Science of Mechanics with Mr. Bliss, having finish’d on Saturday; and yesterday we begun upon Optics; there are two more remaining, viz: Hydrostatics, and Pneumatics. Mr. Bliss seems to be a very good sort of a Man, but I doubt is not very well qualified for his Office, in the practical Way I mean, for he is oblig’d to make excuses for almost every Experiment they not succeeded according to expectation: in the Speculative part, I believe he is by no means deficient. Following Bradley’s death in 1762, Bliss was appointed Astronomer Royal. Both of his predecessors at Greenwich (Halley and Bradley) had carried out series of measurements over a twenty-year period, but Bliss survived for only two years. On 1 April 1764, he observed and recorded the annular eclipse that was visible from London. He died
on 2 September of that year in Greenwich (according to the College history) or in Oxford (according to some other sources). His grave is near to that of Edmond Halley in St Margaret’s Church, Lee, in south-east London. But where did the etching originate from? The copy in Pembroke is a photograph of the original in the Bodleian Library and, apart from an 18th-century portrait by David Martin in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, this seems to be the only surviving image of Bliss. Described as ‘From an engraving on an old pewter flagon’, it was apparently scratched during dinner by the astronomer George Parker F.R.S. (later 2nd Earl of Macclesfield) and turned into the above image by the distinguished engraver James Caldwell. But it remains a mystery as to why Bliss is described as Professor of Astronomy when he was actually Professor of Geometry.
References J. Fauvel, R. Flood and R. Wilson (eds.), Oxford Figures: 800 years of the Mathematical Sciences, Oxford University Press, 2000. Anita McConnell, ‘Bliss, Nathaniel Bliss (1700–1764), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 200. Douglas Macleane, A History of Pembroke College, Oxford, Anciently Broadgates Hall, Oxford Historical Society, 1897..
Life as an Undergraduate
1930-1960 The College launched its first oral history project in1983, when questionnaires completed by alumni captured the circumstances, views and impressions of a sample of those who matriculated before 1936. A summary of the results was then published in an article which appeared in the 1983 edition of the Pembroke Record. By Jo Church
The second phase of the Project was launched in January 2010, when those who matriculated before 1960, and for whom College held addresses, were asked to respond to a series of question prompts. These have provided an additional set of vivid and detailed accounts of life at Pembroke between the years 1933 to 1960. A response rate of just over one fifth meant that we received 124 replies, some relatively succinct but nevertheless useful, and others more copiously expansive. We remain indebted to alumni who have provided their time so generously to what is a rich investment for the College Archives and the social and academic history of Pembroke. The short synopsis below can only serve as a taster for a more detailed analysis to follow in this year’s edition of the Record. The period covered was one of larger than life characters, and little changed at Pembroke for the span of time from the 1920s to the 1950s. Master Homes Dudden was in office throughout the period until his death in 1955, having handed over his active role in College to his deputy in 1953 due to ill health. Until their retirements in 1950, Vicegerent Drake and Bursar Salt were the other key players who formed a strong triumvirate of power which dominated a College which numbered only a total of eight Fellows in 1933, and which had increased only to eleven by 1950. It was a regime resistant to change until the new innovative Master Ronald McCallum began to introduce reform. However, the whole period was one where youth was expected to be “seen and not heard”, and the majority of respondents reported that prospective undergraduates had little or no say as to where to apply
to university, even sometimes no choice as to subject, as schoolmasters, headmasters or parents entered them for a scholarship exam or procured them an interview at Pembroke, often on the strength of good School General Certificate exams or personal connection. The exception was for those who applied to a group of colleges, and those who did compulsory National Service who were often able to exercise greater independence of mind. Once here, the scout was an indispensable institution to an undergraduate, often wise and worldly, he was a source of counsel and advice to the young, especially with regard to the rules, regulations and rituals of College life. Conditions were most often described as “primitive” and “spartan”, and the unheated bath house was a long walk across two quads from most rooms. Throughout the period, scouts woke their charges with hot or tepid water for washing in the mornings and the old traditions were continued well into the 1950s by ageing College retainers, as far as their powers allowed. The undergraduate was addressed as “Sir” and scout was called by his surname in the hierarchy of College life and manners. Many recall that Scout Hector would polish any shoes left outside rooms overnight, including the muddiest of football and hockey boots. However, once war had started in 1939, the war years in College were drab and artificial. The College was requisitioned by the Government and all tuition was outside, with no sports clubs or societies or dining in Hall and was populated only by the very young, disabled or foreign students. College began to refill with returning war veterans from 1945 onwards, but the continued deprivations persisted with one coal fire
a week lit in an otherwise unheated room, and whale meat on the menu once a week. However, for those returning veterans to have running hot water at all was a luxury, and they and those who had done two yearsâ€™ National Service saw the austerity of College as an improvement on conditions in the military. Tradition dictated College life with compulsory dinner three times a week for those who lived in. Whilst 1930s matriculands record regular sconcing, for those of the 1950s, it was more talked about than practised. Chapel, of course, was compulsory until 1954, with attendance required three times a week for the first year at 8.00 am for 10 minutes, then reducing by a day as years went on. Names were ticked off by Mr Ponsford, the Head Porter. Gate closing times varied slightly during the period from 9.00 pm to 11 p.m. but ingenious ways of returning to College were found to circumvent the rules. For those who had sat their finals as the Dunkirk beaches were evacuated or celebrated V E Day in Oxford and lived the privations and horrors of war with the slow and difficult return to some form of normality, such hard times were only to be replaced by new fears and uncertainties as the Cold War took hold. Suez divided opinion in the Oxford community, and many undergraduates lived with the threat of call up ever present, as another war seemed on the horizon. These were the times of Korea and Malaya, in which some Pembrokians served, and the excruciating tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a different and almost unimaginable world from that of the undergraduate today. Debt of any
kind was eschewed, and many deprived themselves of opportunities to join clubs and societies for fear of exceeding the budget. Whilst it can be argued that the simplicity of life in an all male environment meant that the focus was college-centric, and brought compensations in the strong bonds of friendship and long discussions during evenings behind closed gates, for others the petty rules grated, especially as many were nearly 30 when they returned from war, or had already wasted what they regarded as fruitless years doing National Service.
Eights Week Dance 1952
The 1950s were the first tentative beginnings of a loosening of social control of undergraduates, and what some have remarked as a greater shift towards the acceptance of such things as regional accents. Others did feel acutely that they did not fit and found that the stiff upper lip mentality with its view of a problem as a sign of weakness as insurmountable barriers, for counselling and guidance were virtually unobtainable at the time. There is mention of interface between public school and grammar school, returning veterans and those who had done National Service with fresh faced schoolboys, but these are rare inclusions among the reflections of a Pembroke which gave ready acceptance and where â€œall were equally valued whatever their backgroundâ€? and this remains the dominant theme for the majority of respondents to the questionnaire, who value lifelong friendships and regard their formative years as well spent, and which prepared them well for life beyond the gates of Pembroke.
Hidden Treasures Pembroke College has a number of ‘treasures’ in its library and archive which many of you will be familiar with, for example its foundation documents, Samuel Johnson letters and artefacts and its many rare and illuminated manuscripts. By Amanda Ingram Archivist
Whilst the Library has a large collection of rare and antique manuscripts, this volume, a Gezza (Treasury) of the Assyrian Church c.1721 from the Riley collection, is the only one to be bound in elephant hide! A Gezza is a service book, giving the variable parts of the Church Service for all Saints’ days. Close-up of the elephant hide binding.
miscellaneous volume, Talks about Autographs, in 1896. Most of his surviving papers held in the College archive consist of two albums of family correspondence and collected autograph letters, donated to the College by his granddaughter in 1980. These letters are from a wide variety of individuals and include such famous names, seen here, as Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Fry, William Gladstone, William Holman Hunt, Henry Longfellow, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Ruskin.
However, as well as its documentary collection of College records, the archive also houses material of a more unusual nature, some of which can only be described as quirky!
The barrister’s wig of Lionel Edgar Salt, Bursar at Pembroke 1922-1950.
This small volume is an original log-book from the H.M.S. Victory, Nelson’s flagship. It dates from January to May 1805, the year of the Battle of Trafalgar, and contains the records of position and water consumption kept by the Master, Thomas Atkinson.
This item is the seal of Bishop John Mitchinson, Master of Pembroke College 1899-1918, from his tenure as Bishop of Barbados 1873-1881.
This Japanese sword was presented to the College in 1932 by the Rt. Hon. Sir Conyngham Greene (m.1872), Ambassador to Japan 1914-1919 and Honorary Fellow from 1917.
George Birkbeck Hill (m.1855), writer and editor of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, left his library to Pembroke College in 1902. Hill was an avid collector of autographs and published a
The Benefactors’ Book or “Liber Benefactorum Coll. Pemb.” is a beautiful volume recording the names of College benefactors and their benefactions from 1699-1808. Its illuminated capitals and calligraphy are by William Sury and the Oxford binding in gold-tooled red morocco, is possibly by Richard Sedgley.
Sir Bernard Miles, actor, writer and director, was an alumnus of Pembroke College and the archive holds a small collection of his papers, amongst which are three fascinating scrapbook albums. One contains photographs of various early 20th century actors together with letters, both to Miles and to the director Adrian Brunel, from numerous luminaries of the stage and screen including Noel Coward, John Mills, Ivor Novello, Robert Donat and Laurence Olivier. The other two albums also contain photographs, many of them autographed, of late 19th and early 20th century actors together with theatre memorabilia and letters, including one from the actress Lillie Langtry, the ‘Jersey Lily’.
5 6 8
It was fun. We set up a segregated bus – only those wearing green were allowed to sit up front. We re-enacted the moment when a defiant Rosa Parks (played by my six year old daughter) faced down the mean bus conductor (me). (As an aside, the look in her eyes made me shudder in anticipation of teenage years to come). Then we moved on to pictures of King leading nonviolent marches, being attacked by brutal sheriffs, giving remarkable speeches and winning the full rights of citizenship, making the recent election of Barak Obama possible. The children asked interesting questions – why did the politicians spend more money on white schools than black schools, why didn’t the police help the protesters, and why did Obama’s opponent’s wife want to kill all the penguins (clearly a slightly confused anti-Sarah Palin household). Incidentally, most of the children, including my own, thought Obama was President of England.
By Stephen Tuck Fellow and Tutor History
Last year, my local primary school invited me to talk about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King to mark Black History Week. I was just finishing a popular history of the civil rights movement at the time, and I reckoned teaching Key Stage 1 couldn’t be that different from lecturing (not now that we use power point presentations in Exam Schools, anyway), so I was happy to accept. 22
But for all the fun, I felt uncomfortable. The story the teachers expected to hear, and, frankly, the story I felt compelled to tell, was utterly different to the history I was writing. It would have been much less exciting to point out that black women had often refused to sit on the back of the bus, that Parks was simply tired rather than hoping to launch a movement, that the boycott first sought to get rid of rude bus drivers rather than end segregation, that the victory resulted from a court decision rather than the company’s capitulation, and that no major protest followed for some four years after the boycott ended. It would have been too complicated to explain that most black Americans thought better jobs and housing a higher priority than an end to segregation, that many preferred racial separation to integration, and that a large minority had long since given up on the American dream (less than half the respondents to a wartime poll in Harlem wanted America to beat Japan). It would have been too risky – especially at a multi-ethnic school – to have told them about the night I had dinner with the former head of the Klan, and found him to be a far cry from the ignorant, irrational redneck of caricature. And it would have done nothing for school discipline if I had told the children that black Americans often
made the most gains through violence, or at least through self-defence, as much as non-violence. Still, the contrast between my research and school assembly expectations prepared me well for the first review of my book, which reckoned “Tuck takes a cleaver to a herd of sacred cows.” I suppose any historian should be pleased to be a “revisionist,” even better a ferocious cattle-slayer, but I doubt many historians intend to do anything other than tell the story that they find. It’s just that the history of what happened, and the stories about the past that societies choose to tell, often serve different purposes. My research questions were very simple: I wanted to know what people had wanted to do, how they tried to do it, and when they were successful. So I cast my net widely, looking at everyday people as well as the famous, from the end of slavery until Obama, and found countless stories of protest: from a slave girl putting on her mistress’s make up during the Civil War to a black boxer who taunted his white opponents; from black soldiers turning their guns on white policemen during World War II to Malcolm X’s appearance at the Oxford Union in 1964; and from the rise of hip hop to the journey of a black Louisiana grandmother to plead with the Tokyo directors of a multinational company to stop the dumping of toxic waste near her home (they did). Putting the stories together revealed that there was no single heroic generation, but a long running battle (across the whole country) between those seeking a better world for black Americans and those intent on preserving white privilege. The many twists and turns in the story reflected the changing balance of power between those involved – thus the success of Martin Luther King’s fight against segregation was not result of better leadership or braver footsoldiers, but a consequence of the new strength of black Americans in the mid-twentieth century and
– for all the pictures of gun-toting sheriffs – the new weakness of old-style supremacists. In other words, the story of race protest was inextricably intertwined with the shifting currents of politics, ideas, culture, economy and the very many other arenas of power in American society. Thus the civil rights story confirmed what we know from histories of other social movements, namely, that the oppressed invariably rise up when they have the resources to do so, rather than when oppression is at its greatest. Can historians present such history to a wider audience, when the public prefers heroes and villains, when society needs a narrative of progress, and when teachers in school want to encourage nonviolence. I think they can. A more faithful history doesn’t need to be a less riveting story – quite the opposite, in fact. The fears and mistakes of everyday people, and the constraints they find themselves working within, are every bit as gripping as the triumphs of the brave. A broader history also includes a wider cross section of society that the reader can relate to: from businessmen to welfare mothers. And a frank history still has important lessons to tell in our own time, not least a reminder to the powerful to listen to those who lack the resources to get their voices heard, as well as to those who can. As I reflected upon the story we seek to tell on race, though, I began to wonder, why is Rosa Parks the subject of British Black History Week anyway? (And why do numerous Oxford students write black American history dissertations, yet virtually none write about black Britain). So I’ve decided that if they invite me back next year, I’ll speaking about a new cast of characters -- Claudia Jones (a Trinidadborn, American-raised Communist leader of London’s black community), Kelso Cochrane (an Antiguan immigrant murdered by Teddy Boys), Fenner Brockway (an MP who campaigned for racial equality) and Oswald Mosley (who did not). And if I tell the story properly, they might at least learn that Barack Obama is not our PM.
Library of Congress
Stephen Tuck’s book, We Ain’t What We Ought To Be: The Black Struggle for Equality from Emancipation to Obama (ISBN 9780674036260) was published by Belknap Press in 2010. A companion website of audiovisual material supporting the book, put together by students, can be accessed at www.weaintwhatweoughttobe.com.
One Small Step Nothing is impossible
Photo: Charlie Field
By Toby Hulse (1985)
When I was at Pembroke in the mid to late eighties the Oxford Playhouse was most resolutely shut. Constant rumours circulated in drama hack circles, about the possibility of us reopening the auditorium for the most original reimagining of a neglected classic ever, performed by the student acting legends of our day, but, as far as I can recollect, the three years I was in Oxford saw only one such production (possibly Richard III with Piers Gibbon – or was that just a late night plan made with alcohol fuelled enthusiasm that never actually happened?). The small studio space attached to the theatre, the Burton-Taylor Studio (BTS), or Burton Rooms as they were then known, was, in contrast, very busy. It housed some ten or so productions a term, provided a semipermanent home for the Oxford University Drama Society (OUDS) and represented one of the highest pinnacles of achievement for the would-be thespian – this was, after all, a venue equipped with technical equipment and the legally required number of fire exits. My own personal introduction to the BTS was in the form of Cuppers, the inter-collegiate one act play competition for freshers organised by OUDS. I organised and directed one of Pembroke’s two entries that year – the Mechanicals’ scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I still remember with great pride the feedback from the assembled panel, all of whom were at least a year older than me and therefore infinitely wise: ‘it is impossible for us to judge this piece of theatre. It was appallingly bad, but we really have no idea whether it was meant to be this bad.’ This set the tone for the rest of my career… Returning to Oxford 20 years after graduating, having finally laid to rest the curse of Finals, was a wonderful experience, especially to find the Playhouse so vibrant, busy and resolutely open. I had been invited to pitch for the job of directing David Hastings’ documentary play about the space race One Small Step. The script was extraordinary – page after page of meticulously researched and gloriously crafted scientific and historical information, tracing, in every detail, humanity’s path to the moon from the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957. My challenge was to suggest a way of staging it with
two actors and a modest budget in a small studio space – luckily the Oxford Playhouse believed me when I reassured them that putting the impossible onstage was my speciality. The piece was created through play: we filled the rehearsal room with 50s and 60s junk, a treasure trove of brown and orange plastic gleaned from every charity shop in the Oxford area; with audiovisual technology of the period: a Dansette record player, a Kodak carousel slide projector, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, a Super8 projector; and with every cardboard box that The Works could spare us. The resulting show is a delightful collision of childlike play, puppetry and deeply moving human moments – for example, we see Neil Armstrong, played by a man with a bucket on his head and a cardboard box on his back, climb down the drawers of a filing cabinet on to a moon surface made of polystyrene chippings; extraordinarily, audience members weep at the emotional charge of the moment. The success of the show has been phenomenal and rather humbling: a short run in the Burton-Taylor Studio followed by five weeks at the Edinburgh Festival, led to a tour in the UK and EIRE, followed by more time in Edinburgh, leading to a world tour. As I write this the show has just returned from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, and I am getting ready to join them in Damascus. One Small Step returns briefly to Oxford in July as part of a short UK tour before leaving for America, where dates include the Kennedy Space Center! I am delighted that this has led to other work with the Playhouse. I am just about to start rehearsals for a show for very young audiences called Bath Time – two men share a big bath and play all the bath time games you play with your own children or remember from your own childhood. Very sweet, very silly and, I imagine, very soggy. I have also just completed a research and development week on David Hastings’ sequel (prequel?) to One Small Step, which tells the story of the Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk and the first powered flight. More impossibility: it’s a good thing that impossibility’s my speciality…
Toby Hulse (English 1985 – 1988) is a freelance theatre maker, writing and directing plays for theatres across the country, and teaching acting at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He specialises in work for young and family audiences. In 2008 he directed for Oxford Playhouse One Small Step, which tells the story of the space race from Sputnik to Apollo 11, and is returning to the theatre in June to create Bath Time, a new piece for very young children inspired by the games we play in the tub.
Crystal Clinical Scholarships
By Aravinthan Varatharaj (2004)
The Crystal Clinical Scholarship fund was endowed by Ben Crystal (Law 1998), son of Michael Crystal, QC who lectured in law at Pembroke in the early 1970s, to commemorate the work of his grandfather, Samuel Cyril Crystal, MB, ChB, a general practitioner of medicine in Leeds who was honoured by an OBE for his work. The fund is available to assist clinical students studying at Pembroke College with the costs associated with their final year elective period and can be used for travel and subsistence. Aravinthan Varatharaj was a recent recipient of a Scholarship. In February, still buoyant only two days after completing finals, I retraced the footsteps of Sir William Osler and left Oxford for Quebec to begin a month-long placement at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Immediately I was in medias res in one of the most prestigious international centres for clinical and academic neuroscience. The breadth of cases was simply an order of magnitude removed from anything I had previously seen, and the specialist experience and resources available meant that the investigation of each case was fascinating to be part of. In Canadian neurology there is no equivalent of what we would call the ‘house officer’ (ie. the ‘dogsbody’); therefore I was able to take up this role and play a useful and educational role in the team. I experienced a wide range of cases making up the bread-andbutter of modern neurology, together with many rare conditions never seen outside of such a specialist
centre. Condensed into a month I gained much experience that otherwise would take significantly longer. My schoolboy knowledge of French was not hindrance, rather a base on which to expound; luckily most of the neurological examination can be conducted through mime with a liberal sprinkling of ‘faire comme ça’. The Neurological Institute is a closeknit community, and I received great teaching, tips, and tricks from renowned specialists who were happy to share their experience. Most memorable, however, was the range of patients seen, many of whom taught me lessons that I shall use throughout my career. The city of Montreal was a beautiful and snowy backdrop to this great educational experience; it is a unique and charming mix of New World dynamism with Gallic-infused Old World history. Living and working in the city I became immersed in its character (and cuisine), and I look forward to a return trip.
After experiencing super-specialised and hightechnology medicine in Montreal, I moved on to the Caribbean island of St Vincent for a month-long placement in paediatrics at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. With little tourist industry compared to surrounding countries, St Vincent is one of the poorest in the region, and the Milton Cato is the general hospital for the whole island. Inevitably it is the usual story of over-crowding, under-staffing, and lack of equipment. In paediatrics, the usual slew of childhood infections are common as in the UK, though rheumatic fever and sickle-cell disease are also extremely common, neither of which I had previously seen back home. My particular interest is in infections of the central nervous system, and I saw many cases of meningitis, tuberculosis, cryptococcosis, and others. These infections are much more common than in the UK, partly due to the geographical distribution of certain pathogens and vectors, and partly due to the high proportion of HIV-positive patients in this region. More so than the differences in pathology, however, it was eye-opening to see a different kind of medicine, so alien from that which we practice in the UK. Investigations are limited to simple blood tests, X-rays, and ultrasound. Most prescribing is dictated by what is available in pharmacy at that time, rather than clinical need. I could not count on both hands the number of times I would diagnose a particular infection, prescribe the most effective antibiotic, only
to be called by pharmacy and told â€˜that drug is not in stock, but we have a lot of out-of-date ampicillin from the WHO, you could use thatâ€™. The emphasis is wholly on simple, common, treatable conditions â€“ as I very quickly learned, there is no point in making a complicated diagnosis when the treatment is unavailable. And yet, despite the differences, I learned many generic clinical skills that I will incorporate into my practice in this country; as well as gaining a practical knowledge of working in a developing country, an area which I hope to revisit later in my career. Outside of the hospital I had a great time enjoying the natural beauty of St Vincent, largely unspoiled as it is. Climbing La Soufriere, the (active) volcano which makes up the centre of the island, was a highlight. On this elective I experienced many contrasts, both inside and outside the hospital. However, a common thread ran through it all, and that was the people. Healthy people, happy people, sick, dying, laughing, crying people; I was privileged and humbled to experience so many facets of the human condition. In the study of medicine our heads are filled with facts and figures and often it is easy to lose sight of the reason for it all; it all comes down to people. With this simple fact refreshed in mind, I am happy to be moving on to the next stage of my career, and I am very grateful to College and to Mr Crystal for making this trip possible.
There is such a thing as a Free Lunch
By Juanita Hughes
Alumni Relations Manager
You may, or may not be aware that for the past few years we have been running a very successful mentoring scheme which we refer to as the “Take a Pembroke Student to Lunch”. The way it works is that we invite students to complete a form indicating the career field they would be most interested in finding out more about. We then aim to match the student with a volunteer alumnus working in that field. Once the match has been made by the Development office both parties are encouraged to arrange a mutually convenient time to meet, normally at the Office of the alumnus who will offer an insight and give advice and guidance. Over that last year about 12 students have taken advantage of this opportunity. If you would like to help us with this scheme please get in touch!
Harry Biddle (2007) and Jonathan Batson (1976)
Rose Payne (2008) and Imogen Fox (1993)
I arrived an hour early in the Starbucks opposite Richmond Park station, but it was not until five minutes before that I realised my carefully prepared sheet of questions was still enjoying the ride around the London Underground. I was to meet Jonathan Batson, a lead consultant with IBM Business Dynamics: “Business Strategy with an analytical twist”. In essence, he applies mathematical models to the world of business; a field with the memorable name of ‘Operational Research.’ This seems to me to be a great mix of a mathematical background and the ‘real-world’, and is something I have researched before. But I didn’t know how big the field was, and how active it was today. It turns out it is alive and well: Jonathan’s group is the largest in the UK, and they work with a wide range of big-name clients. We talked about the extent that mathematics is used, about the progression a graduate can make through the company, how the industry looks at qualifications, and so on. Jonathan certainly enjoys what he does, and was a great source of information to give me some perspective on the industry. Certainly I would never have met him without the scheme, and for this I offer my gratitude.
As there are no Oxford subjects with a direct relation to fashion I assumed that the Development Office might not be able to find anyone working in the fashion industry, but they found me a perfect match. Imogen Fox, the Deputy Fashion Editor at The Guardian.
I went to the Guardian offices in London over the Easter Vacation and Imogen was so lovely and told me so much about the industry that it is impossible to find out in any other way than by speaking to someone with experience. She helped me clarify my ambitions for the future and reassured me that I was unlikely to feel out of place. It was such a valuable experience and I’m so glad that our College helps undergrads in this way.
A Jordanian Perspective on the Pivotal Role of the Central Bank By Andrew Seton Strategic Development Director
Pembroke is today strengthening its ties with countries in the Middle East due to its longstanding reputation as a college which specialises in the teaching of Arabic and Islamic studies at undergraduate level, as well as a centre for research into the region’s rich history. The College’s academic resources devoted to study of the region were strengthened this year by the addition of a new Fellow, Senior Research Fellow and contemporary Arab literature specialist, Lis Kendall. The region was also the focus for our third City Breakfast held at the Walbrook Club in London on May 14th. Lis, a Pembroke alumna (1989) moderated the session. One of the panelists was Jordanian Dr. Umayya Toukan (1980) who studied development economics while at Pembroke at the same time as his wife, Lina (1980), then went on to take his doctorate at Columbia University. Since then, he has become the Governor of his country’s Central Bank ( a role for which he won the award Central Bank Governor of the Year from the Banker magazine. Dr. Toukan had some carefully chosen words for our Breakfast audience on the role of regulators and developments in his part of the world…
My remarks were an attempt to highlight the significance of what central banks really do and suggest that the most important role of central banks is that of a true custodian of public interest. Central banks are technical institutions and have no political agenda. Central banks are not concerned with being popular. From this perspective, central banks compensate for the excesses of politicians who like to be popular, in particular, compensate for excessive government spending. Central banks do this by maintaining the right configuration of interest rates, inflation rates, and real exchange rates and/ or managing the volume of liquidity in the banking system. It is mostly for this reason that central banks should be independent. The case for the independence of central banks in their role as bank regulators is equally important. The model used at the Central Bank of Jordan, as an illustration, ensures that our prudential regulations are conservative and consistently in line with international standards such as the Basel Accords and Good Governance principles. Similarly, this model maintains that our monetary policy adheres strictly to our mandate by law, namely, price stability. Furthermore, an important component of this outlook is the strong belief that a healthy banking system is essential for the conduct of an effective monetary policy. The remarks further suggest that the biggest development in the Middle East economies in the past 25 years or so has been the adjustments in the price of oil. This brought about vast financial resources to the region
and a boom in economic activity, in particular, in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. This new unprecedented level of economic activity spilled over to all countries in the region and presented several challenges to monetary policy, including the constantly rising asset prices, in particular, real estate and equities’ prices. The remarks further suggest that the Middle East region will continue to be robust in terms of economic growth and consequently attractive to FDI flows provided the policies of opening up and the process of integration into the global economy continue to be supported by governments in the region. Finally, what central banks do matter because a sound monetary policy and a sound banking system would help minimize uncertainty or the “risk premium” investors attach to their investment decisions. Investors would attach a higher risk premium i.e. they would ask for a higher price or a higher return on their investment if they think monetary policy may lead to inflationary pressures or if the currency of their investment is undervalued or overvalued or extremely volatile. Similarly investors would ask for a higher compensation if a country is politically unstable or there exists regional instability. Central banks cannot do much about the latter risk. Politicians and other relevant authorities in the region should do a better job at minimizing the risk premium due to the slow pace of political and social reform, political instability, and a host of other uncertainties. The Palestinian Israeli situation will continue to be the major source of uncertainty as well as a major source of human suffering in our region. Nevertheless, the Middle East region is very promising as it stands today. One could imagine how inviting the Middle East would be in the absence of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Dr Umayya Toukan (1980)
Productive Producers Through the Pembroke network two young, vibrant and successful film producers have come across each other. Here is an insight into their working lives.
‘My Dad the Communist ‘
Daniel Jewel (2000)
Michael Berliner (2004)
is a London based Producer and Director through his Award-winning Production Company Third Man Films. Having graduated with an MA in Modern History from Pembroke College, Daniel went to Prague to attend an intensive Directing course at the Prague Film School where his graduation film won ‘Best Film’ in his class. Returning to London, Daniel directed a series of documentaries for Channel 4’s prestigious ‘Three Minute Wonders’ strand about London’s Arabic community. He then went on to direct three further documentaries for Al Gore’s Current TV, including a film about the banned Iranian Hip Hop movement, which was shown at the Brit Doc Festival in Oxford and at a special screening at the British Museum. Off the back of the success of the documentaries Daniel was taken on as a Directing client at the Curtis Brown Agency. Also active in drama and theatre Daniel produced the Oscar-short listed, BIFA Nominated and LA International Film Festival Prize winning short film ‘Sidney Turtlebaum’ starring Derek Jacobi (I Claudius, Gladiator) and Rupert Evans (Hellboy). He also produced ‘Allegiance’ a hit play at the Edinburgh International Festival starring Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglorious Basterds) as Michael Collins. He is also a graduate of the Producer Training Scheme in the UK where he worked for companies including Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, and the UK Film Council. Through Third Man Films Daniel has a diverse range of short and feature film projects in development.
left Pembroke in 2007, with a 2:1 in PPP. Alongside a day job as Projects and Development Assistant at arts agency B3 Media, he is now a film producer. His short films have won many awards. This year, Michael won the Grand Prix du Jury for European First Short Film at the prestigious Angers Premiers Plans film festival in January (for a film lovingly entitled Whore), and he picked up both short film prizes at London East End Film Festival (Best Short Film for Whore, Short Film Audience Award for My Dad the Communist).
What are your fondest memories of Pembroke?
What kind of films do you make?
What are you currently working on?
(Michael) The Pembroke College Music Society! I was an all singing and dancing Shark in West Side Story in 2005 when we transformed the hall into 1950s New York. I then directed Grease! the following year. So glad to hear that the summer events are still going strong! Also: the brilliant College ski trips. Amazing friends. McCoy’s. (Daniel) My fondest memory of Pembroke has to be the people. I came to Pembroke as a graduate to read an MSt in Modern History from Bristol University where 99% of the students were from London. Pembroke at graduate level by contrast attracted a hugely international group of people from all backgrounds and cultures which made for a really lively and stimulating social mix. I also loved Pembroke itself, it is tucked away but it has a really special atmosphere and the quads are beautiful.
(Michael) All sorts – although I’m into storytelling, not experimental stuff. I’ve made a three minute short Looking for Marilyn which is a gritty take on fame and celebrity which was shown on Channel 4 and during the Cannes Festival 2008; The Beachcombers which was a love story of two young people on opposite sides of the Thames falling in love through binoculars. I’ve also done a full blown comedy called Big Tingz (which needed a crane and two stunt dogs) and fantastic spooky period drama In Passing starring Sean Pertwee, Lesley Sharp and Russell Tovey. I even restaged the Tiananmen Square Massacre (in Brixton) for a wonderfully poignant film called My Dad the Communist. (Daniel) I think the most important thing when you are choosing a project is that you have to love it. The amount of time, energy and commitment it takes to make any film means that you will be living with each film for a minimum of a year, so its has to be something that really grabs you. More specifically I’m a London filmmaker so my projects are often set in London and in London’s huge variety of communities and cultures. I’ve made documentaries about London’s Arabic cafe culture for Channel 4, a film about an Iranian hip hop artist banned by the Iranian government for Al Gore’s Current TV and recently a comedy-drama set in London’s Jewish community in Golders Green. So I am really interested in making stories that are both local and international and you can do that all within the M25!
(Michael) I’m in post-production on my seventh short film, Skateboards and Spandex. The film is a comedy that I’m billing as a cross between the film Napoleon Dynamite and the TV show Glee. I’m developing several feature projects with the directors I’ve worked with, and I’m also part-way through raising finance in a bid to produce one of them. (Daniel) Following on from the success of ‘Sidney Turtlebaum’ we are currently developing a feature film version of the project with Derek Jacobi attached to star again. I also have a U.Kset Science-Fiction feature film which has been shortlisted for a film finance competition. And this Autumn I have an exciting new short film project set in China which I am going to Direct and Produce, also with feature film potential, that I am just starting to raise finance for. So fingers crossed it should be a busy year!
What does a producer do? (Michael) Basically, you’re the non-artistic director – you organise everything, from getting the funding, hiring the cast and crew, juggling locations and contracts, and control the film’s post-production and distribution. (Daniel) The short answer is everything. It’s basically a producers’ job to take an idea, a book or a script and get it up onto the screen and out to an audience. It’s very challenging as you need to understand everything from script development, to casting, to working with directors, to raising money, making sure all your legals are in place, through to marketing and distribution. So during a day you can easily go from a meeting with your lawyer into a casting session, have a meeting with a writer about a script and then into a budget meeting. So you definitely need to be able to multitask - but the sheer variety of the work makes it exciting and each project has its own set of challenges - so it’s never boring
What made you want to do it? (Michael) I wanted to be a director – and was involved in directing short film and theatre at Pembroke. But, a friend with far more industry experience and contacts than me asked me to produce his short film – I jumped at the chance, and found it tiring but amazingly fun and satisfying. I’m now on short number 7, loving it and always looking for the next challenge! (Daniel) My parents are classical musicians and growing up they used to take me to their concerts where they played live music to old silent films like Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ and D.W.Griffiths’’ Intolerance’. The films had a really powerful effect on me and from that moment on I was hooked.
What is your proudest achievement? (Michael) Winning the Grand Prix du Jury for European short film at the prestigious Angers Premiers Plans film festival this January. It’s led to great exposure for my winning film, and more people knowing my name! The film, Whore, is a gritty urban drama about a communication gulf between a boy and a girl. We filmed in a comprehensive school on the Isle of Dogs one very hot summer week and I cast my mother as a teacher who gets punched. We’ve recently started talking again… (Daniel) My proudest moment definitely came this year where I was Shortlisted for an Oscar for my short film ‘Sidney Turtlebaum’ which stars Derek Jacobi. The film also won Best Foreign Film at the L.A International Film Festival and was nominated for a British Independent Film Award, so the success of that film has been really fantastic.
Where do you see yourself in five year’s time? (Michael) At the moment, my producing is great fun and opening doors, but is largely unpaid. I’d like to move from my day job as a projects and development assistant at an arts agency promoting ethnic minority talent into full-time producing. My passion is in story-telling – so I’m leaning away from the commercials and music videos end of the industry, and towards feature films! (Daniel) In my wildest fantasies I would like to have set up a film fund within 5 year’s time. As a producer you do spend a great deal of your time chasing after finance, which often comes with strings attached, so to be able to have a modest fund from which to produce film projects would be the ultimate producer’s dream! Either way I would like to be in a position in 5 years time where I am regularly producing high quality feature films for an international cinema audience. Producer’s like Scott Rudin, who produced ‘No Country For Old Men’ and James Schamus, who produced ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ are great models of producers who make intelligent films that find large international audiences and who have both created sustainable film companies. So to take my company, Third Man Films, to somewhere close to that level within 5 years would be amazing. You can read more about Michael and his films at his website, www.picopictures.co.uk and Daniel ‘s at www.thirdmanfilms.co.uk
Future Events Dates for your diary. Full details for all of these events will be sent to you in due course.
2 010 AU GUST 5-6 6 Fri
Pembroke Choir at Westminster Abbey, 5pm in the Quire Gaudy for matriculation years 1995-1997
S E P T EMBER 3 Fri 24-26 25 Sat
Twenty Years On Reunion for matriculation years 1989-1991 Oxford Alumni Reunion Weekend Pembroke Alumni Dinner
O C TOBER 14th 22nd
New Bulding Campaign Launch UK at The Wallace Collection New Building Campaign Launch USA at The British Ambassadorâ€™s Residence, Washington DC
N OV EMBER 26
PPE Subject Dinner at Royal Institute of British Architects
2 011 JA N UARY 29 Annual Meeting Gaudies for the following matriculation years will be held during 2011: 1965 - 1967, 1980 - 1982 (this will be a 30 year reunion to include partners), 2005 - 2006. Full details will be sent out three months before the event. All future events, including some still in the planning stages, will be posted on the Events section of our website www.pembrokecollege.org. We also highlight all events in our monthly email newsletter. If you are not receiving these newsletters, please let us have your current email address.
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