We went up to London last weekend for a Castle (University College, Durham) Reunion Drinks event for which Jeremy Hawksley organised a party of ten. I had not been back to Durham for forty years when I visited last June 2014 and I had not seem some of these people for forty years either such as Louise Deplae and Simon Tapp. Charles Appleby I had met with a few times in London, through occasions organised by Jeremy once again, but it would still have been at least thirty years since we had met.
We travelled by National Express coach which was not really to Kate’s liking but one wonders whether it would be any better by train. There are pros and cons with each but we will try train next time. At least the coach terminates at Victoria which is only one stop on the Tube, Green Victoria to Green Park, that is, as we were staying at Jeremy’s club, The Lansdowne in Mayfair. This is a lovely old, historically interesting building with both 18th century and Art Deco styles in different parts. It is certainly very well positioned for visiting London and much less expensive than comparable hotels in the area.
The drinks event was held in the Counting House, a cavernous hostelry on Cornhill in the City.
The Master of the College attended and gave a speech during which he lost the crowd a few times but interestingly they were with him when talking about the College’s strategy for the future – should it try to maintain excellence as a generalist institution or attempt to specialise. Also they are fighting a move to remove admissions from the colleges to a central admissions office. This would definitely increase the tendency to focus on certain faculties at the expense of others within the University.
After the drinks we all repaired to Gow’s Fish Restaurant for dinner. The food was quite good but nothing outstanding. Jeremy was determined to generate a general conversation that was more than pleasantries and reminiscences and introduced a round table in which each person was invited to tell the table what they felt they had learned in the last 40 years. Not a trivial ask but really everyone managed to come up with something moderately profound.