We welcomed back over 100 matriculants of 2004 to 2006 on Saturday 2nd April to re-connect with old friends and reminisce. The programme included tea in the Master's Lodgings, College tours with William Roth, Director of Development and Fellow, a 'scratch choir' performance in Chapel, formal dinner in Hall and an overnight stay in College.
Katia Bojinova (2005, PPE) has kindly provided this report:
'On a sunny Saturday in April, in what felt like the first real day of spring, groups of former Univites made their back to Univ for our first Gaudy. I came up from London on the train and made my way past The Bridge (I remember running there on a Thursday night to get in for free, instead of paying the £4 entrance fee), making note of all the new shops on the High Street, (particularly upsetting that the Oddbins is no more), stopping for a quick glance at the covered market and a few surreptitious photos of St Mary’s gleaming in the sun (don’t want anyone to mistake me for a tourist!) I made it to the Univ lodge just in time for registration.
I stopped for a moment before entering, feeling all of a sudden a sense of trepidation. But there was no need for that and as soon as i stepped through into the lodge, it was like stepping back in time. It took so long to get my room keys, as I kept stopping to say hello and hug and smile.
Tea in the Master’s lodgings followed, as crowds of excited former students spilled over into the master’s garden, I tried to talk to as many people as possible (and consume as much cake as possible). What was wonderful was that the years melted away and conversations may have begun with updates on job/marriage/living situation, but quickly became something more.
I asked a few of my friends what they felt and the recurring theme was “surreal”, it felt like a time capsule and we were all students again.
I went on a college tour, the highlight of which was seeing the inside of the refurbished Goodhart building. Having spent my first year at univ as a proud resident of Goodhart, the news of en suites, double beds and enormous kitchens filled me with envy. A big change in college life is that students in their final year now get to stay in college, and indeed I saw a few finalists walking past and probably wondering who the old people running around their college were.
During dinner I was somehow seated next to Sir Ivor, a prospect that I must admit I was pretty nervous about, but which ended up being a really great opportunity to catch up with what the college has been up to in the 8 years since I’ve left it, such as adding our first, and long overdue, portrait of a lady (Helen Cooper) in hall. It was great to see one thing has certainly changed, and dramatically improved, and that is the food. The buttery refurbishment had happened during my final year, a year of plastic cutlery and no formal hall, so I was amazed at how good the food was and told sir Ivor of our now legendary first formal hall where the vegetarian main course had been a whole onion and not much else.
Another big change was the pretty swanky looking college bar, the new upholstered benches were admittedly pretty comfortable but I do wonder how do bops end these days without people dancing on top of them, I hope that at least the Uuuuuuniv chant lives on. The hour struck midnight all too soon, and we went on a search for Ahmed’s kebab van, who was sadly not there, I am hoping due to a well deserved holiday rather than retirement. We drowned our sorrows on a few room parties and things get a bit blurry at that point, although I did find a very unfortunate selfie with Shelley on my phone the following morning.
The next day I somehow made it to breakfast and I am very glad that I did, because seeing the new buttery in action was a treat, as was having the opportunity for a final catch up with old friends. After breakfast I tiptoed into the college library (not wanting to disturb any finalists) to say hello to the desk that was my home during finals and snuck out afterwards in order to avoid prolonged goodbyes.
It was a perfect little trip down memory lane and I can’t wait till the next one.'
Photography by Ian Wallman