Thursday, March 27, 2014

XOxford-Cambridge events in USA (Superseded)

Superseded -
The list that was here has been appended to the report on the Boat Race Dinner 2014
This page is being kept open to avoid broken links.

For the Last Time, Oxford-Cambridge Women's Crew Rows One Week Earlier

The 7-km. Boat Race Course from Putney Bridge to
Mortlake, which will include women's races in 2015.
As reported in The New York Times this morning (first page of the sports section) and The BBC today, this weekend the Oxford-Cambridge women's crews will race for the last time in a different location from, and one week before, the men's crews.

The women's race has taken place annually, except for wartime, since 1927. The men's race started 98 years before.

This year a new silver chalice will be awarded to the winner of the women's race, in lieu of a wooden plaque to be consigned to the Boat Race Museum.

Starting in 2015 the women's boats will race before the men's on the traditional seven-kilometer course on the Tideway.

Credit for the equal status for the women's boat race is given to "an American investment bank" - i.e., BNY Mellon, which is the boat race sponsor for the current round of races. (Sponsorship of the Boat Race is negotiated through a complicated system that is sketched in a well-read previous post on this blog.)

For some years, Newton Investment Management -  a women-oriented wealth manager whose parent is BNY Mellon - has sponsored the Oxford-Cambridge women's boat race. Newton's chief executive, Helena Morrissey, has made it a personal goal to achieve parity between the men's and women's boats in the annual Oxford-Cambridge race on the Thames.

More news about the Boat Race is available on the official web site.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

OXFORD: NY Times Travel Story

Trinity College Dining Hall High Table. Behind are
Portraits of Its Founder and Distinguished Alumni.
March 23, 2014–The story in the NY Times Travel section today about Oxford brings back great memories. It is written by the wife of a law professor on a sabbatical year in Oxford. She has a good sense of some of Oxford's attractions and picks a few highlights of cultural offerings in the city.

She starts with references to "Brideshead Revisited" and Christ Church and Inspector Morse, and continues with a selection of recent Oxford writers.

She recommends starting a visit with a view from the top of St. Mary the Virgin, "right smack dab in the middle of the action" on High Street. The NY Times photographer dutifully takes a photo of the "dreaming spires" from that location.

It's a fine horseback trip around Oxford, but I have a couple of quibbles as someone who spent two magical years at Trinity College.

First, the "middle" of Oxford for me was always Broad Street, "the Broad"–where the Bodleian and Sheldonian are, the Museum of the History of Science, Blackwell's multiple stores, the Tourist Information Center, and the blue gates of Trinity College, where for more than a quarter-century the Blue Badge Guild of Oxford Guides walking tours begin. (For access online to a huge range of tailored tours of Oxford, on foot or with transport, go here or here.)

The Broad was on the fringe of the original Oxford, and Trinity was outside the wall around Oxford that survives in parts on the opposite side of the Broad from Trinity. But scholars were residing at Trinity's predecessor college before 1291.

Second, the map that accompanies the story shows the college next door to Trinity at one end of the Broad and the Bodleian at the other, but not Trinity College. Trinity is important not just because Guild tours begin at its blue gates. It may be a small college in numbers. But it has a jewel of a chapel and for an American audience, Trinity alumni punch well above their weight:

  • Pitt the Elder helped get the French out (hurray!) and 
  • Lord North tried to get the colonies to pay for this (boo!); between them they had a lot to do with the American Revolution. 
  • Wilmington, Del. was named after Lord Wilmington, Britain's second Prime Minister and another Trinity alum. 
  • Three men of the Calvert family created Maryland. All attended Trinity–the first and second Lords Baltimore who claimed Maryland for Catholics, and the younger-brother Calvert who became Maryland's first Governor.
  • Viscount James Bryce was the British Ambassador to the United States in 1907-1913, in the run-up to World War I and he had something to do with getting the United States into the war "Over There".  
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, looking for an Oxford college for Gatsby to claim to have attended, picked Trinity. However, Gatsby doesn't show up on a list of Trinity alums.
  • Boat Race followers might like to know that two of the eight oarsmen on the Oxford crew this year are from Trinity College.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BIRTH: Mar. 19–Sir Richard Francis Burton, Who Gave Us the Kama Sutra

Biography of Sir Richard
Francis Burton (1821-1890)
This day in 1821 was born, in Torquay, Devon, England a writer, translator, soldier and explorer  named Richard Francis Burton. He soon moved to Borehamwood, Hertfordshire and grew up an Army brat, traveling around with his British officer parents, learning French, Italian, Latin and local dialects as his family moved to different posts around Europe.

He attended Trinity College, Oxford and made the acquaintance of John Henry Newman, a very different person. Burton learned his Arabic at Oxford, but he didn't like the place. He challenged another student to a duel for making fun of his mustache. He  was expelled for attending a horse race and telling the college authorities about it, urging them to change the rules forbidding undergraduates from attending.  On his way out of Oxford, he rode his horse into the Trinity College gardens and trampled the flowers. So there.

He went on to fight in the East India Company and learn Hindu, Persian, and quite a few local Indian languages–29 languages in all, says Wikipedia.  He fought in the Crimean War.

He wrote about his travels in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and he often disguised himself in local clothing. He became famous when he published A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah (1855), about his experience disguising himself to make the Hajj, which is forbidden for non-Muslims. He wrote the definitive English translations of A Thousand Nights and a Night (The Arabian Nights) and The Perfumed Garden and he introduced The Kama Sutra to Western audiences.

He was honored as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and he was awarded a knighthood, the KCMG.

He was the first European to see Lake Tanganyika. A movie based on his exploration appeared in 1999 called Mountains of the Moon.  Based on reviews, a remake would be a good project.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, on which much of this post is based.)