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Gaudy Night looms – it sounds like murder

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 31 July 2018

There is no actual murder in the Dorothy L Sayers novel, Gaudy Night. But as my old Oxford college prepares to throw a Gaudy, a black tie reunion dinner, for folks in my year and the two around it, the book springs to mind. It is, I think, now in Greece so perhaps a summer re-read is due. I am not saying that I would like to see any of my peers murdered, not even conspiracy obsessed loon Carole Cadwalladr.  It is just that I have no desire to see them – and I’d bet a fiver that the feeling is mutual.

I was not even aware that such an event was planned until one of the few folks who I would like to see, hugely successful banker turned businessman M, emailed to ask if I was going.  I am afraid that he must think I am miserable old coot as there was not a second of doubt in my mind. I’d rather eat my own toes.

As a sanity check, I asked the only peer with whom I am in communication most days, E, whether she was going. She too had only been made aware by a friend but had reacted exactly as had I. I sense that since neither E or I are hugely rich or famous our old college makes no great attempt to ensure our attendance and that will not change.

As you get older, your college tries to arrange more Gaudies just to remind those who are making their will to remember the old place. My college need not bother, it will not get a cent. Oxford colleges are rolling in dosh and are thus among the least deserving causes going. If they had the backbone to tell the Government to stop interfering in academic life and to go private in order to preserve their independence, they would not need to wait for my death for my support. But they have no spine, no balls.  They deserve not a penny.

There is a reason that I am not in touch with folk from my old college. I have no interest in their company and I am sure that the feeling is mutual. I used to try to feign interest and attended the odd gathering where everyone affected modesty as they talked up their achievements. I am sure that it makes a lot of folks happy and others can also remember what Bruce Springsteen describes as the "glory days." If it makes them happy, I am happy for them but it holds no appeal for me.

Why on earth would I take a day out from spending time with my family or working on the Hovel, or on RogueBloggers4Woodlarks 2019 or writing something that gives me pleasure to share mediocre wine with folks who, if they were honest about it, are as bored by me as I am by them?

However, it is a reminder that I’d like to catch up with M and E and I should move from chatting electronically to actually make the effort to catch up for a meal and to put the world to rights. That is two more resolutions for the next 12 months.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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