Members and their guests have been busy attending a wide range of events. Reports and photographs are below.
Friday 16 AUG 2019
Book Group Summer Outing
Friday 19 JUL 2019
Buxton International Festival
Saturday 13 JUL 2019
Donors' Garden Party
Tuesday 25 JUN 2019
Master's Dinner in San Francisco
6:45pm – City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, 10th Floor, SF, CA 94104
Sunday 23 JUN 2019
Master's Supper in LA
6:45pm – Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071, USA
Friday 21 JUN 2019
Book Group Extra!
Oh dear! there we were, all ready to meet at the Wimpole History Festival to hear two novelists discuss the art and craft of turning history into fiction then chat through both the books and the discussion over tea when the Festival organisers upped and cancelled it.
The book with the local connection was Stella Tillyard’s The Great Level which well rewards a read if you are interested in love stories and land reclamation! The hero, whose seventeenth century adventures also take him to Nieuw Amsterdam, is a young Dutch water engineer working on draining the Fens. It’s a dangerous, exciting and professionally satisfying occupation. His personal life, the archaeological finds, and the evolution of his religious belief add richness to the tale.
Friday 14 JUN 2019
Old Emma vs. College cricket
SCOREBOOK CONFUSION: HOW MANY RUNS WERE SCORED – AND WHO REALLY WON?
For the second year running, this key cricket match of the College v Old Emma was decided and formally conceded after the close of play. This time it was two days after the match day: last year it was in the pub after the game. Last year the result was conceded by the College: this time by Old Emma.
On the day, the College swept past the Old Emma total of 109 with the loss of just 5 wickets off a mere 25 overs: a clear victory. However, later close examination of the scorebook (by the Old Emma captain, perhaps not the most numerate of economists but using a calculator just in case) showed that, by different calculations the College total could have been 104, or then again 107, or possibly 108: but certainly not 109 or higher. College victory celebrations were technically premature, however well deserved.
However, it would have been churlish in the extreme to deny the excellent College team its victory.
The Old Emma 109 is the lowest total ever recorded by Old Emma, who added a second record on the day with the most expensive over ever bowled in the series.
That the game was played at all was unexpected after a week of very heavy rain. Indeed, some threatening black clouds and a couple of short showers during the first innings added to nervousness. Play started at 1pm and there was just one break for tea.
Old Emma batted first on a wicket which started damp and puddingy but later flared for an hour or so after some sun. Jeremy Allen (20), Freddie Green (15, making his Old Emma debut) and Will Earle (14) took Old Emma to 61-2 – a “platform” if ever there was one. But then the wickets fell – six were lost for the addition of just 7 runs (Dave Downham, Peter Westaway, Alex Mistlin and the captain contributed net zero between them). It was left to Glenn Earle (30) to take the score to 109 – and even then it needed 12 batsmen.
Although the pitch had a spiteful period, wickets were lost because of poor shots and poor judgement to a steady bowling attack. The College used nine bowlers with Daniel Pope (3 for 17) and captain Sushant Achawal (3 for 4 off 5 overs) excelling. Five catches were held.
In reply, the College made steady progress with wickets falling – but not fast enough to threaten the obvious result. Tom McKane (21) and Luke Hone (49) made certain. For Old Emma, Nigel Quinton (3 for 24 in 9 consecutive overs into the wind, poor old man, cruel captain) showed penetration and caught two off his own bowling. Peter Slee, carrying a hamstring injury and after a winter knee operation, was steady with 1 for 20 off 7 and Elliot Mack (1 for 39) was fast and occasionally straight.
But it needed more. However, not necessarily more of Jeremy Allen, whose one over went for 4-4-6-0-4-6. Maybe if two catching chances had been taken with the composure of the one snaffled by Tim Baxter (if he’d missed what might it have hit?), it could have been closer.
At the tea break, Abishek Patel and Sushant Achawal presented what can only be described as “long service awards” to Luke Hone, Tom McKane and Daniel Pope who played their first season of six for the College way back in 2014.
Two of the College team were Robinson Ringers (thereby, technically nullifying the result?) and no fewer than six of the College team will be available for Old Emma next year.
Thanks to Mark Robinson for draining the shallow end of the pitch, to Philip Brown for supporting throughout, and to the Master and the College for the invitation to dinner in Hall and dessert in the Robert Gardner Room. There’s always next year.
Friday 14 JUN 2019
Visit to the Royal Opera House
Saturday 8 JUN 2019
Recent Graduates' Dinner (June)
7:00pm – Hall
Monday 3 JUN 2019
8:00pm – Camden House
Is a book group discussion different because the author is there? Yes, of course. If you are blessed, as we were in Paul Ryley’s Finding Emily, with a page-turner, you have the pleasure of telling the author why you found it so interesting. So the Camden House drawing room rang with book group’s female members (who are of a certain age) saying “Did you young men really think like that about women undergraduates? I never knew!! It explains so much…..” Choosing this book turned out to have been very apt given the College’s preparations to celebrate 40 years of the admission of women undergraduates. Some of the characters were Girton undergraduates, and the meeting was enlivened by the passing round of a Girton year group photo from the early 70s which led one of our number to exclaim ‘That’s my sister!” Cue a consideration of whether or not it is creepy for an author to have photos of the real people who inspired his fictional ones in his writing-archive. We went on to explore the parallels between this book’s detail on 1970s pop music and that rather solid and indigestible chunk of Ian McEwan’s Saturday which reports the morning squash match grunt by grunt. And then we chewed over anxiety and depression in real life and in fiction because the plot is very much shaped, as is the majority of people’s lives directly or indirectly, by mental ill health. It was well portrayed in the book, as one would expect from a psychiatrist turned novelist.
CP Snow’s The Masters provoked a different sort of discussion what with him being both dead and a famous author. Our conversation could be summed up as having been a wrestle between feeling that we should revere this Great Book and actually finding it slow moving and boring despite telling ourselves that we probably ought to be perceiving insights within it which would illuminate our understanding of what is going on in the major political parties. It is a book about power struggles in confined groups of people, after all, and that is a timeless topic. The mastership election which inspired the book was Christ’s, and, Sarah Bendall’s informative message went on, Emmanuel happened to be the next college to need to elect a new master. Apparently, troubled by the protracted agony of the Christ’s fellows, we pressed on and did it in hours!
A way in which The Masters is dated is the issue about what doctors should tell their patients, and what they might or might not, tell the patients’ relatives. In the book, the then master’s wife is told that he is dying of a digestive cancer and she and the doctors collude to tell him that his investigation found nothing serious and imply to him that he should expect to convalesce back to normal health. They tell the fellows that he is dying. Only the master’s young adult daughter thinks her father should be granted the dignity of knowing what is going on but she is dismissed as a hysterical girl. The rest of them lie to him. We considered wanting to know, not wanting to know, the possible burden of unforgettable knowledge, and what might constitute good psychological palliative care.
It was a jollier evening than depression and death implies!
Wednesday 15 MAY 2019
Film Screening of 'Letters from Baghdad'
6:15pm – British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Saturday 27 APR 2019
Recent Graduates' Dinner (April)
7:00pm – Hall
Tuesday 23 APR 2019
Visit to Aldeburgh
11:00am – The Red House, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5PZ.
Saturday 23 MAR 2019
Gathering of Members (2005 - 2007)
Tuesday 12 MAR 2019
Intellectual Property Law Lecture
6:00pm – Queen's Building Lecture Theatre, College
Tuesday 5 MAR 2019
Phoenix Arts Club, WC2H 8BU
City of London Dinner
Friday 1 FEB 2019
6:15pm – Queen's Building Lecture Theatre, College
Wednesday 30 JAN 2019
Talk by Sir Stephen O'Brien
Monday 28 JAN 2019
Book Group – Lent Term Meeting
8:00pm – Fellows' Breakfast Room, College
The Cambridge Murders by Glyn Daniel
It seems unlikely that at the beginning of the evening any of us thought that by the end of it we’d have talked about Giles Farnaby (1563-1640), Jane Austen (1775-1817), Anton Chekov (1860-1904), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), C S Lewis (1898-1963), Georgette Heyer (1902-1974), Colin Dexter (1930-2017), Qiu Xiaolong (1953-) and J K Rowling (1965-) along with: borrowed names and religious allegory; era-appropriate words and phrases; guns; level-of-description; and rules-for-writing fiction but we had. Era-appropriate words and phrases, guns, Dexter, Heyer, Qiu and Sayers were perhaps predictable, but the rest?
Yes, the titular murders were committed with a gun, but that wasn’t the context in which we talked about them: rather we considered Chekov’s guidance about the opening of a work of fiction. He was concerned with the imperative to get the plot moving early. Apparently he said that if the author mentioned that there was a gun hung over the fireplace in the room where the action opens, it, the gun, should have been fired in the next three pages. The Cambridge Murders opened much more slowly than that - took 23 pages of an old Penguin edition to find the first body. Until then, nobody had thought there was anything odd about the last night of term in the imaginary Cambridge College in the late 1930s. We noted that J K Rowling - a writer who does not want for readers - had felt able to indulge in a veritable telephone directory of characters, each introduced in their own short chapter, before she got going on the plot of A Casual Vacancy. So much for that rule for writing fiction.
We had come across two sets of rules for writing detective fiction specifically: van Dine’s (US) Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories which apparently originally appeared in the September 1928 edition of The American Magazine, but which we had found on the thrillingdetective website, and those of The Detection Society, codified by Ronald Knox in 1929 (try Wikipedia). Like Knox, Sayers was a founder member of (UK) The Detection Society but clearly didn’t rate van Dine’s Rule 4: "There must be no love interest in the story. To introduce amour is to clutter up a purely intellectual experience with irrelevant sentiment. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal alter.” Think of Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon. Perhaps Sayers felt she had matured out of writing straightforward detective fiction. Daniel also broke van Dine’s Rule 4, because in the case of The Cambridge Murders people’s fondness or passion for each other provided some handy motives for them to behave badly (but sometimes affectionately!) and so enrich the “intellectual experience” of the many potential solvers of the murders, and indeed the readers. Wondering whether following rules for writing detective fiction might be a characteristic of writers with a UK or US background, we are going to read Qiu's Death of a Red Heroine - the first Inspector Chen story - later in the year.
And the other things - writers - composer - that caught our interest? Well, if you like wide ranging discussion, do join us! Next meeting probably June 3rd.
Friday 11 JAN 2019