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A picture of Lee Worden oiling a wooden owl

On Thursday, Oswald was overjoyed to preside over a socially distanced matriculation ceremony for livers out in the JCR. It was a joy to be able to welcome our livers out to South and to hear them pledging their oath of loyalty to our values and our wonderful wooden mascot. Subsequently, Steven spent a very diligent hour applying the coating of wood oil on which Oswald’s health and wellbeing depends.

It is becoming apparent that we need urgently an elite team of Keepers of the Owl to share this important duty and to take responsibility for Oswald’s security and happiness. Given his busy schedule, I think this South College equivalent of the Praetorian Guard should also take custody of his diary. Oswald would not wish to miss any important appointments. A second matriculation ceremony for livers out will take place on Thursday 29th October, again in the JCR. I particularly enjoyed showing our livers out the Pitcairn Building, Plaza, Hub and MUGA. Conversation II and Ephesus inspired interesting questions. Soon we will install in the Pitcairn Building interpretation boards offering explanation of our sculptures.

Art was a theme of the week and an enjoyable one. On Wednesday I was pleased to meet Clare Lane, the accomplished textile artist who has won a commission to create for South and John Snow a piece of art for display in the reception area of The Hub. Although the final work will be her own, Clare is determined to work collaboratively with students and to incorporate elements of your work. Please look out for invitations to participate in workshops.

Friday was very busy and productive. In the morning, Lee and I were pleased to welcome to South Paul Howell, the MP for Sedgefield and the first Conservative to win the seat since 1931. Mr Howell completed his MBA at Durham Business School. Mr Howell is a chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Left Behind Neighbourhoods. He has accepted an invitation to join South College SCR. Note that we will invite MPs from both the parties that represent County Durham constituencies at Westminster to join the SCR and support South College. Liberal Democrats will also be very welcome.

At my third current affairs seminar we enjoyed a detailed discussion of BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme. I was impressed by the commitment of those who listened to the show between 0700 and 0800 on Thursday morning. The programme first took to the airwaves on Monday 28th October 1957. Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister and Britain had not yet joined what was then the European Economic Community. Today has set the agenda for British opinion formers since the late 1970s. It remains as influential now as it was in the early years of Mrs Thatcher’s premiership and still attracts the second largest audience in network radio. For those who are interested, Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2 remains slightly more popular. Jeremy is, of course, a Durham graduate. 

On Friday evening, Lee, Lynn, Steven and I met the Presidents of South College Clubs and Societies for an informal, socially distanced chat over wine/orange juice in The Hub. It was tremendous to hear about the range of activities that are already under way. Social distancing does not make life easy, but willingness to improvise and innovate is abundant in South College and I look forward to seeing/hearing and supporting the results.