On 22 October, we celebrated at High Table the eightieth birthday of Graham Richards FRS who is truly a Brasenose institution. He has spent almost all of his career here and was head of the department of chemistry of the University from 1997 to 2006. He was instrumental in promoting the decision to admit women to the College. It was great to greet so many emeritus Fellows at dinner and to salute Graham.
On 17 October, I went with James Fletcher from the Development Office to Luxembourg to visit our alumni who are based there. I had only visited the city before in order to appear at the European Court of Justice and inevitably it is difficult to sightsee around the city on such occasions. This time, we had an afternoon tea party with alumni of all ages – some of whom explained that they had originally come to the City for a few years and stayed for many after. We were also lucky enough to be there when Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint was giving the first of the British-Luxembourg Society’s rejuvenated Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Lectures on the subject of Asia and Europe. This was presided over by our alumnus David Clark who is Chair of the Britain-Luxembourg Society and a member of the Oxford University Society of Luxembourg.
On 24 October, Charles Seaford of Demos addressed the PPE Society about his provocatively titled book Why Capitalists need Communists. He listed the key challenges of our age as climate change, inequality, housing, pressure on public services and job creation job creation following automation. He asserted that the traditional economic policy was not fit for purpose. A radical departure was needed with a coming together of a more responsible capitalism. He saw utilitarianism as a primary problem. Some dirigisme was required to solve these big issues. Society members asked many searching questions.
I hope that you noticed that the famous photocopied letter to the European Commission seeking an extension to the departure from the EU was signed by our alum Sir Tim Barrow, UK Permanent Representative to the EU.
I was shocked to read recently a part of Alistair Campbell’s Diaries for February 2006 where he described an event he did here for Vernon Bogdanor and says “Beautiful place. But boy they never stop talking”. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading Jon Sopel’s very amusing account of the Trump White House “A Year at the Circus” BBC Books.
It was welcome news that the University is developing its environmental sustainability plan with a full strategy expected next year. The first Questions & Answers of Heads of House with Prof Louise Richardson the Vice Chancellor was devoted to this challenging subject.
We held our first drinks party of the academic year in the Lodgings for 22 Freshers. It was great to meet them individually.
Thanks to our University Challenge team who put up a spirited performance against an excellent Imperial College squad.