Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summertime...and some memories

The summer months are an odd time at Newman House. Many of our friends who have been here for the Academic Year have moved on, and we are preparing for the new batch in September. It's probably wise to point out that posting to the blog has dropped off a little, and between now and September there will still be occasional postings, but they will be less regular for the moment.
If you're an alumnus and would like to contribute some memories, please get in touch with us at
However, here's a piece by Sue Lyons, who lived here during the year 1967-8. Our thanks to her for putting these memories together.
Any memories I have of the Chaplaincy must start in the library, a dozen people studying quietly in the pools of light coast by the table lamps, Pete in one of the comfy chairs in the middle, just “resting his eyes”, book on the floor beside him, until the murmur goes round, “drinks in the bar?”, “coffee’s brewing in room ….” And the library is deserted.

My overwhelming feeling when I think of my time at 111 is the sense of community and support. As a non-catholic I was slightly taken aback in the first week, when Max appeared at my room to recruit me as a member of Cathsoc. I think he was more embarrassed than I was at trying to recruit the ‘heathens’ and beat a hasty retreat. I nevertheless participated in most parts of life at 111, drinks in the bar, the Sunday night dances, folk singing, talks, and even including the occasional attendance at Mass. I will always the have warmest admiration and affection for the wonderful team of priests and nuns who were always available to support and encourage those in need, especially the bottle of whisky that came out of the Bruce’s office drawer. That of course was only for a real crisis!

I do recall other occasions when staff rose magnificently to the occasion, Bruce Kent appearing clad in pyjamas to rescue a group of revellers, stuck in the lift, desperate after a couple of hours spent consuming beer in the bar. My time at the Chaplaincy also seems to include some distinctly watery episodes: an unexpected shower, whilst trying to revise quietly on the roof on the annexe – may you be forgiven, you perpetrators of the dastardly deed; an even wetter occasion, an unexpected bath inflicted upon me by my “friends” – well, what if I had woken one of them brutally at around 6 am with a glass of water splashed gently over his face, in response to a dare; Sister Reggie, queen of the kitchen sweetly requesting that the culprits mop up the bathroom and hall floor.

I end where I started, creeping in late at night past the library, peeping in at the night owls completing last-minute assignments in the pools of light from the table lamps on my way to bed……

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