The highs and lows....
I've just been to my last ever high table at Nuffield. Oh lord, how will I ever get used to real life again where you don't get served four course meals three times a week with wines selected by the butler.....and get to talk to Gus O'Donnell, Prof Kitzinger and Roger Bannister...
Nuffield is actually one of the least stuffy colleges in Oxford but thanks to Lord N's money serves some of the best food (All Souls is the best apparently but I never managed to wangle an invitation; in fact if you want an invite you'll never get it in one of those unspoken rules). Tonight's offering at Nuffield was red mullet in gazpacho sauce with salad; guinea fowl on a wild mushroom risotto; roast pear and honey icecream. I skipped dessert (claret, port and Muscat) to go to Jeremy Tobacman's bachelor party and then to the Nuffield College cocktail party (avoided the cocktails as I want to be able to go running tomorrow. Well be able to function tomorrow).
But now apart from Midsummer Dinner next week, my life at high table is over. So farewell gown (worn for first three courses but always removed for dessert), farewell passing the port (always to the left), farewell pointing out the Nuffield coat of arms to guests (in particular the ox, the beavers and the pears) and farewell the SCR coffee machine (which every evening without fail stumps the finest social science brains around).
At high tables I've tried to understand econometrics and the sociology of work productivity around Europe; debated whether Wolfowitz was set up and why Edwards is the one to watch in the 2008 election; asked whether house prices being 10 times income could be a good thing and argued over whether governments can make their citizens happier; sorted out the New Philanthropy and learned why Royale fell from grace so quickly.
Oh and I told stories about the talking horse and Slapper Napa .....Yes they really got value for money with this year's Nuffield Fellow didn't they?
Now back to low table for the summer....Sigh.