The Drury Diaries: Pippa, Pippa and Pie

A new start for Caius and a lacklustre comedian are all on Drury’s mind

bombing caius College Dr Rogerson extremism jonathan pie law Manchester master Pippa Middleton Steve Walker university

Pippa in Town

Caius has elected a new Master; a new lady Master. Pippa Rogerson will be the first woman to hold the job in the College’s History, and as she begins the job, according to one of the College’s more bonkers traditions, she will also be holding a wand.  “The rod of prudent governance”, as it was called on the occasion of the College’s foundation, will be presented to the new Master alongside “the cushion of reverence” and the “book of knowledge”, such that “[she] and [her] fellows and all who follow [her], may understand that this College stands and abides on knowledge and prudent counsel – and so will stand and abide in the time to come.”

I think this is an excellent summary of the point of a College, and the concomitant duty of a Master.  Prudent governance – by the way – most definitely extends to meddling in CUSU campaigns. Sir Alan Fersht has been a fine Master of Caius, principally because of how much he loves the place.

In my mind, Dr Rogerson’s appointment illustrates a tolerance that has not always been present in the University, towards Roman Catholics, that is.  The ‘Articles concerning the preposterous government of Dr Caius, and his wicked abuses in Gonville and Caius College‘ claim that Caius considered vestments, crosses and mass books the College ‘treasure’. Taking issue with this, their neighbour’s alleged papism, the Vice-Chancellor, Master of Trinity and Provost of King’s descended on Gonville & Caius one December day in 1572, and from noon until 3p.m. (the hours of lunch) found this ‘treasure’, carried it outside, burnt what could be burnt and smashed what could not be burnt.  I wish Pippa many years of avoiding such a fate, and many years of prudent rather than preposterous government.

Sir Alan, current Master of Caius, once called me a ‘very nice chappie’. As his successor is announced, I say the same of you, Alan.

Pippa in the Country

It seems, alas, that being #48 BNOC does not make me a sufficiently elevated member of ‘society’ to deserve an invitation to Pippa Middleton’s wedding.  After I bemoaned this to a friend, she offered two pieces of consolation: firstly, the Queen did not attend anyway; and secondly, as much as The Sun might harp on, it was only a wedding between two commoners, albeit wealthy and pretty ones.  Pippa has one remarkable talent (two, if you count social climbing), for offering useless advice and observations. We have both had things to say about Cambridge blue: whilst I began an important movement for uniform stash colours, she joked that our colour was really green.

Far more interesting than Pippa or the page boys’ outfits was that the priest wore the very English surplice and scarf, rather than stole


Outrage was the order of the day at the Union this week as Tom Walker/Jonathan Pie delivered a controversial speech in a comedy debate.  He joked about coming to Cambridge to sleep with a student, commented on the number of women in the audience he’d sleep with, and punctuated his speech with claims that he was “speaking as a rapist”.  Criticism of him has exploded something along the lines of, ‘how dare he make light of such issues?’, ‘how dare he not always take things seriously?’  What this outraged censorious bunch don’t understand is that by wailing, gnashing their teeth and rending their clothes, they encourage people like Walker to go on outraging them.

There is a false claim in their logic, that Walker’s speech in any way indicates what he really believes.  Joking about something doesn’t necessarily indicate that you don’t take it seriously. My friends take the piss out of me all the time, indeed I take the piss out of myself.  Yet I don’t believe that they think any less of me, or think it’s deeply concerning that I can laugh at myself.  Jokes just don’t hold the power we sometimes afford them, and nor is seriousness half as virtuous as we sometimes think.  The way to deal with Walker is not to tell him his jokes are on an inappropriate subject, but that these jokes were unfunny and boring.

Pie: Not evil, just unfunny on this occasion

And Prayers

For Manchester. For those dead, for those maimed and injured, for those who mourn, for those hoping they won’t have to mourn.  For those who work to alleviate and counteract the suffering.  I thought I’d keep religion out of this column, but not today.