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A group of students sitting in the grass having tea and cake

It was a week of light and shade. Having decided to take advantage of autumnal sunlight to host a socially distanced tea party in the Plaza, I was enormously grateful to Lee and Steven for rushing to Tesco to acquire the necessary cakes and biscuits.

To all who attended and made the occasion so memorable, manty thanks. It was not quite as warm as I had hoped, and I suspect Oswald was less than entirely gruntled to be forced from his perch in Pitcairn Reception to a windy post adjacent to Conversation II. That said, he could not help but be cheered by the turnout and the wonderful mood of optimism. I was delighted. My thanks to all who attended and conversed with me. 

Friday's formal for residents of Concordia, Gillard, Lorde and Sirius was equally successful. We were able to celebrate Lee's birthday, and to welcome as our guests three senior officers from Durham Students' Union: Seun Twins, President, Nailah Haque, Undergraduate Academic Officer and Anna Marshall, Opportunities Officer. It was also a great pleasure to welcome Police Constable Matt Preston, Lynn's husband and, the previous weekend, a highly successful participant in the 2020 London Marathon. 

I was honoured to be appointed the first member of the Distinguished Order of Keepers of the Owl. I shall treasure my sash which has now taken pride of place on my coat rack beside my academic gown. I shall treasure it even more when Richard has taught me how to put it on properly. Note however that we must soon expand membership of the Order. I cannot assume sole responsibility for oiling Oswald. He may have additional need of lubrication when the central heating is switched on in the Pitcairn building. 

The evening continued with a moment that I shall long recall with affection. As we walked back from the Hub to the Pitcairn Building after dinner, a household of self-isolating students in Concordia House who should have been guests at the formal appeared in the window of their flat. They were all wearing gowns and formal attire. They had dressed for dinner despite being unable to attend. Their cheerful optimism in the face of adversity and their determination to join in filled me with respect and pride. This was South College spirit at its very best. I hope the students concerned enjoyed the wine I sent up to their doorstep. When you emerge from isolation, please drop in and say hello. 

That moment exemplified the spirit of mutual support and solidarity that exists in South College. It is inspiring. Southies have a tremendous spirit of resilience. I fear we may need it. By Saturday morning we had confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Earhart and Concordia and households awaiting test results in Centaurus and Sirius. The need for caution is overwhelming. Only by obeying the rules of social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding all mixing of households can we hope to go on enjoying our College as we would wish to. This is additionally important if we are to welcome to College soon the Southies who do not live in. Our livers out are full members of our community. One of the worst consequences of the pandemic is that, so far, they have been prevented from joining us and sharing South's outstanding facilities. 

Finally, thanks to all who attended my first Current Affairs Seminar on Friday. I enjoyed it greatly and I hope to see you - and any others who are interested in news, current affairs and journalism - at the same time next Friday.