Principal's Blog: 1st-11th February

blogBowers1 February:
Our Annual Arts Dinner was addressed by Stevyn Colgan who writes for QI amongst others. He gave a hilarious speech based on his time as a policeman before he “discovered” comedy. He used his time in the Vice Squad around Central London to great comedic effect.

2 February: Somerset dinner:
Our Somerset Dinner is the feast where tutors and their spouses and partners are invited and is a great occasion.

3 February:
We had a sensational Platnauer Concert from the Kosmos Ensemble who combine an enormous range of European music with their own arrangements of traditional songs. They demonstrated richly that the description by Richard Morrison, Chief Music Critic of The Times was accurate that they “have telepathic rapport, dazzling virtuosity, serious scholarship, intellectual curiosity and impeccable musicianship”. Their repertoire included music from Greece, gypsy music, Japanese music, tango and Hungarian and Jewish music.

6 February:
Dame Julie Mellor a Brasenose alumna and Honorary Fellow was the guest at the Principal’s Conversation. She is the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman. In a wide ranging and entertaining address, she described her role as the Ombudsman and her future intention to introduce citizens’ juries into the UK as well as her work as chair of the Young Foundation. She also touched on the dangers of “post truth politics”.

8 February:
One of the great things about being Principal is meeting amazing people who just pass through the College. On 8 February I met Prof Thomas Sudhof. He is Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology at Stanford and Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology. He won it for his discoveries on the molecular mechanisms of communication amongst nerve cells in the brain (please don’t ask me any questions on this). He was in Oxford to give the 12th David Smith Lecture at the Department of Pharmacology “Molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission”. His current work focuses on the mechanisms of human brain disorders. In my 61 years I have never met a Nobel Prize Winner yet in four weeks I will meet a second, our alumnus Michael Kosterlitz. It is rather like London buses as two Nobel Prize Winner came along at around the same time! A great privilege indeed. Thomas wrote in our Visitors Book about “the spirit of scholarship being so alive in this College” which I think is very true.

History and the chapel cushions:
Often history intrudes unexpectedly at Brasenose and demonstrates the terrific service which our Archivist provides to our community. The cushions/kneelers currently used in some of the pews in our Chapel have been identified by an expert from the V&A as dating from between 1666-1667. The Museum believes the cushionscushions to be important examples of 17th century Turkish work and their expert has stated that they may be of national importance especially as their provenance is evident. Only two similar sets are known at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and Norwich Cathedral.

Georgina Edwards our College Archivist then found a bill from 1667, a year after the consecration of the Chapel that possibly details the cushions’ purchase:

 ‘for 12 topps of cushions for the Chappell’…’for making them up & for a long cushion’.

The Rev Claude Michael Broun who matriculated in 1951 has given us a copy of The Booke of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other parts of divine Service for the use of the Church of Scotland, 1637. We are very grateful to him.

Our excellent magazine The Brazen Nose has appeared with a wide range of articles by tutors and alumni, expertly knitted together by Llewellyn Morgan as Editor. He welcomes articles from all parts of the Brasenose community, and even in this edition accommodated one from this Principal about one of his predecessors HLA Hart!

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