I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and some connections


More razor sharp delivery from Humphrey Lyttelton on the year’s final I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (BBC Radio 4):

Hello and welcome to I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. You join us for a second week at the Empire Theatre in the fine city of Sunderland. (Audience cheers.) The family of the first U.S. president, George Washington, came from this area. It was George Washington who led the revolt by the American colonists as they no longer wished to be treated as the subservient lackies of Britain. We certainly reversed that one. (Laughter and applause from the audience.)

And so the war of independence began. And soon Americans began raining cannon salvos down up their former British allies… a tradition they proudly preserve to this day.

On that note, I’ve forgotten to note that the 16th of this month marked the 233rd anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, where American colonists dumped shipments of tea into the Boston Harvor. It was one of the major events leading up the the American Revolution. I didn’t have the heart to commemorate this by tossing tea into the Cam… it seemed a bit cheeky and a waste of good tea. Instead, I had several cups of Twinnings Earl Grey tea (with a bit of milk and cane sugar).

Phoenix sculpture outside the dining hall in Grey College, Durham.

By the way, that’s the same Grey for whom Grey’s college in Durham (where I stayed during a conference earlier this week) was named. Further, this is the same Grey who was the cousin of the Victorian feminist Josephine Butler, for for whom the newest Durham college has been named.

Josephine Butler accomodations in the fog.

Josephine Butler is my college of choice on my Durham application (which needs to be processed on paper and sent to the Marshall commission soon). There’s something poetic about going from Trinity, a very well established and traditional college at Cambridge, to Josephine Butler which is a brand-new college that is “making things up as they go” as one porter phrased it.

I won’t go much into a comparison of the two colleges since I only had a brief chance to take a peek around Jo Butler (am I allowed to call it that?), but I should note a few striking differences:

  • Trinity rooms are all rather spacious, at least compared to what I was used to in Stanford. Josephine Butler rooms are a bit smaller, but very cozy and comfortable. (They are about the same size as the average Stanford single undergraduate room… but such a thing is rare.)
  • Here’s the kicker: every Josephine Butler room is en suite. That is to say that they all have their own private bathroom. To the best of my knowledge there are no en suite student rooms in Trinity. In fact, apparently there are only a small handful of showers in the whole of Great Court… so that some of the most coveted accomodations in Trinity require students to walk outside to take a shower!  Granted, the Butler restrooms are very compact and space-pod like, but a shower in your room is a shower in your room!
  • Trinity provides a bookshelf with four shelves, though only the bottom two are tall enough to fit my books. Josephine Butler provides a bookshelf that’s a bit smaller with only three shelves, but all reasonably spaced.
  • The Josephine Butler desk is larger than my Trinity desk… and it’s brand new.
  • However, my current room has a fantastic window seat that is the object of envy of one of my neighbors.
  • Trinity has very limited cooking facilities for students. Josephine Butler is self-catering and includes a spacious kitchen with each six room block. The kitchen includes a full size freezer and a separate full size fridge, a dining table, ample tabletop and drawer space, and a TV port… fantastic.
  • In Trinity I can roll out of bed and wake up in the CMS. In Josephine Butler I can roll down a big hill and (if I survive) wind up in the IPPP.
  • Washing is fine at Trinity… though the dryers where I live are actually ‘tumblers’ and don’t do much to actually dry clothes. (I’ve purchased an air dryer from Argos which is very nice and leaves my room smelling like fresh laundry.) Josephine Butler practically has a laundromat on site, with brand new washers and dryers that look like they belong on a futuristic space colony.

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