Jacqueline and I returned from Snowdonia late on Monday morning. Owing to a series of train delays, we both returned tired and exhausted. We therefore both spent much of the week relatively easy, now returned to a rhythm of working, eating and, for me, playing a bit of tennis. It was a fairly distracted week, spending a fair bit of mental energy getting used to the new paradigm.
On Thursday, Rebecca had arranged to use a little of the left-over Orientation funds to host a thank you dinner for the Orientation Committee. I ended up eating at Nivedyam for the third time in recent weeks, not that I was complaining about the reasonably priced Indian food. Most of the committee were there, and it was so refreshing to see people and not have to talk about Orientation any more.
Callie had contacted me earlier in the week asking if I was free on Friday to take some people punting. Always eager for an excuse to go out on the river, I agreed, and so met up with her and her two guests at college. Jacqueline came too. Her guests were a husband and wife whom Callie knew from her home in Portland. They were visiting Cambridge to give an improv workshop later in the afternoon at Newnham college.
I collected the punt gear, and we set off down the river. Because of the renovations at Darwin, for the year, the punt cushions and poles are being stored in boxes by the river, instead of in the shed. It wasn’t incredibly busy on the river; there were still a number of guided punt tours, but nothing near the mayhem that it is in the middle of summer. It wasn’t too cold, and we made it all the way to Jesus Green and back with plenty of time to spare for lunch in College afterwards. It is always nice to have guests to take out onto the river, but with winter imminent, there will not be many more chances.
I returned to work briefly that afternoon, before returning home to have a quick dinner. That evening, I headed out to the Anchor for Alex’s farewell dinner. Alex was to be the last MPhil student in the 2016 cohort to be departing, and it was quite an emotional time for many involved. He had delays with his thesis submission and viva that were beyond his control, but now it had all been settled and he was to be moving on to his life stage. I guess that comes for all of us eventually. We stayed around the Anchor until quite late, mingling with familiar faces and the newer scholars. I split when some people made moves to go to the Clare MCR.
On Saturday, I had signed up to play for the Cambridge University Real Tennis Seniors team against Middlesex University Seniors. Middlesex had made the journey up to Cambridge, and were playing a series of singles and doubles fixtures on both of Cambridge’s courts. I was scheduled to play in the afternoon, and so spent the morning in the club rooms over-looking the court socialising with the other players from both Cambridge and Middlesex. Unusually for Cambridge, Middlesex had insisted on timed games; instead of playing a best-of-three sets, we instead were playing to see who could win the most games in a 50 minute time slot.
My first game was a doubles, played with Richard against Andrew and Stuart from Middlesex. We got off to a bad start, and were left playing catch-up for most of the match. By the time the buzzer rang, we were down 8-13. Immediately after, I played a singles match against John from Middlesex, which was closely fought all the way, but I ended up losing the deciding game to finish it at 5-6. I am still yet to win a match for the Seniors team, but I looked eagerly towards the next fixture in Oxford in a few weeks time.
I rushed home to eat, shower and get changed. That night, Jacqueline was playing in the Cambridge University Sinfonia’s production of Grieg’s Piano Concerto. I had offered to steward for the performance, which meant dressing in all black and being responsible in case of an evacuation. I was also tasked with selling programmes, and was thusly given a hip bag with a small float and a pile of flyers. I positioned myself near to the door and sold through my pile relatively quickly. At the same time, I greeted the nearly packed out theatre, catching up with a few fellow Gates scholars who had come along for the show.
There were three pieces, firstly Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, and second was Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Both were performed adequately well, for a student orchestra; but it wasn’t quite as good as the glamourous and polished performances I’d been accustomed to at the Proms over the summer. For one, the student soloist and the conductor missed up some of the timings after long solo sections.
There was a short interval, during which I sold some more programmes and caught up with a number of the Gates Scholars present, including Callie, Jake and Catherine. The final piece, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Number 5, took up all of the second half, and was the best of the set, I very easily found myself bopping along to the recurring theme of the clarinet, especially in the first movement. After the concert, I ushered people out, and met up with Jacqueline and others to congratulate her on her performance.
Finally, it was a slow-going Sunday morning. Danny, Joanna and Lewis came over for a Dungeon’s and Dragons session in the afternoon; to which we played a side quest where their characters embarked on a mission to disrupt; and then later join; a mushroom smuggling trade. Lastly, the week was finished off with one of the last Council meetings I would have to attend in my role as Orientation Co-director.