Homerton has a twin college at the Other Place. Their Principal is an honorary fellow at Homerton, and the other way round. They have a guest room that we can use, and we are trying to arrange one for them. Thy have visited us. Yesterday we were invited to visit them.
It may seem crazy to travel for two and a half hours just to have dinner. It was crazy, but it was nice. Fifteen of us crammed in a minibus. We were told to be at Porter's Lodge at four sharp, and being an obedient little girl, I was, and got terribly anxious when nobody else was these, and no minibus either. Then people started coming, but still no minibus. Somebody ran to the college, somebody tried to make some phone calls. Eventually, twenty past four, the minibus arrived, by which time the traffic out of Cambridge was quite heavy. But there we were, in our Sunday best, stuck on motorway after motorway – there is no reasonable route from This Place to the Other Place. In another situation I would perhaps suggest singing, and we did have some music people on board. But I wasn't sure whether the Cambridge code of behaviour allowed singing on bus trips. Right outside the Other Place, someone got sick. It wasn't me. I strongly empathised.
We were warmly welcomed, got a quick tour of the college (fantastic Pre-Raphaelite chapel!), drinks in the garden, a formal, but friendly dinner. I had to explain first during the drinks and then at dinner to the person on my right, on my left and across the table what I did for a living, with all the usual set of incredulous questions. Between main and pudding, all hosts moved three seats clockwise, and I had to explain to the person across the table and on my right what I did for a living. But the person on my left was writing a critical biography of R L Stevenson, so I had someone to talk to who understood.
Today a colleague said: “It was a nice trip yesterday, wasn't it? I only went out of duty, but I truly enjoyed it”.
Harris Manchester College, the Other Place