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By Rhona Watson
Image of In Response

In Response

Robert Christian (1962) and his fiancee came to visit the College last month and whilst here viewed the current exhibition on display in the Quincentenary Library which looks at its history since opening in 1996. 

Robert was particulalry interested in the ‘memories’ sent in by old members that are inclued in the exhibition and we were vey pleased to receive the following poem from him inspired by those memories and his visit to the exhibition.  Permission has been given for us to reproduce the poem here. Robert also added that "Mr West was Head Porter, always(?) with a top hat and tails, and pinstripe trousers.  Kindly and firm it seemed".  Old members are encouraged to send in any of their reminiscences or items from their time in College to the College Archivist so that they can be added to the College Archives.  

"In Response"

Thank you, modern thorough representative

giving us all the pleasure

of a tour through books but more


importantly the places of thought,

talk, art central enough

to withstand diminishing


It was after I rang a bell

fearing the worst and happy

as anything we could see inside


My research can only be

within the confines of my poetry

if this maybe honestly


that before I tell of what

happened to me:

exact preparation for interview


with Raymond Williams un-noticed

when he told of what

I now see as hope


And Mr Fisher seemingly warm

towards me, looking back

and subsequently.


And so, soon, (my pigeon-hole

was ‘C’) letters

signifying I did not kneel


yet did to have that other’s hands

upon my head

as my parents watched.


I have memories of the fun

of my blue transistor radio

and my own


door. The staircase, arguably-

dramatically perhaps the

hugest in the university (N)


echoes now to the cowed mystery

of being there. Mr West

was to be obeyed.


And the others! Dick, Stu, Jim,

Short, Coates, Andy, Bob, David,

Savage, perhaps we were


all baffled in the same way

by degrees we somehow had

to work towards


I’m not sure why- to stay

there, of course, the necessity.

Who would dare


ignore the rank of wonder

the chances also to waste

love as if it were


free, though looking back (again)

it cost much as did

the work


repaying both in alignment

towards memory

and shared victory


Robert Christian (1962-5)

For Rhona Watson, Librarian,

The Quincentenary Library, Jesus College,

Cambridge, with thanks

April 14th 2017



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