The recent reunion of the Class of ’79-’81 was ample testament to the reputation of St Catharine’s as the “friendly college” of Cambridge and to the ease with which those friendships are rekindled even after more than three decades of absence. As some 140 finely attired Catzmen and -women – a record attendance – squeezed into the splendid new McGrath centre to shelter from the driving rain while enjoying the College’s pre-prandial hospitality, the animated conversation was punctuated only by cries of recognition and the increasingly frantic attempts of the official photographer to corral us into a sufficiently compact area to capture the event for posterity.
Dinner itself brought two further revelations: a fine example of concise and entertaining oratory in the form of Paul Hartle’s admirably rapid canter through five centuries of Catz history in the context of wider literary and world events, followed by a menu of more sophisticated cuisine than most of us could recall from the early 80s, with a fine “lamb two ways” main course being particularly memorable. The reordering of the gallery may have left the hall with an acoustic less than ideal for capturing all of the nuances of conversation partners on the opposite side of the table, but this was no impediment for determined Catzfolk keen to assimilate up to 36 years of news in a couple of hours.
Following re-acquaintance with the noble tradition of the Catz cheeseboard, most gravitated to the new bar to test out the equally time-hallowed custom of outstaying the barman’s welcome before retiring after a most enjoyable evening just as the clocks unhelpfully jumped forward an hour.
Paul Hartle’s implied invitation to the 600th anniversary celebrations of the College’s foundation in 2073 may perhaps prove a little optimistic for most of us, but we look forward to a rather earlier “return match” in due course. In the meantime thanks are due to Deborah Loveluck and all who contributed to the organisation of a highly successful event.
Paul Baumann (1981)