Sunday 7 February 2010

Naughty Newnham Nuns

I see from a report in Friday’s Daily Telegraph that the ‘Newnham Nuns’, the girls of Newnham College, Cambridge, have made it into the news and not for the best of reasons. The Nuns, you see, are not just naughty but they are naughty and noisy! And before anyone jumps at me I know that not all the girls are Nuns (the Newnham drinking club); some are even worse!

Anyway, an email was sent out by Lizzy Cole, Newnham’s undergraduate president, telling the girls not to control their passions just the vocal expression of such passions. This followed from thirty complaints about noise in the student halls.

Now, I do stress that Newnham is not my college (don’t ask; I’m not saying!) but I have friends there and know what the place is like; one can hear people talking through the walls, to say nothing, ahem, of the other thing. But Cambridge is the sort of place where if people have something to say they will say it, believe me, they will say it. I don’t want to be unfair but I rather suspect that there is just a tincy-wincy spot of sexual jealousy here. You see, all girls are equal but some really are more equal than others. :-)

Celia Walden, a Newnham old girl, continued the story on Saturday. The college only admits so many men per girl (a maximum of five!) Those leaving have to give the porter a note from their host to allow an accurate tally to be kept. Dear Celia, convinced that the porters never bothered to read these, would scribble such things as “I’m done with him, send the next one in”, or “This one’s a dud – don’t let him ever darken my door again.”

Poor Lizzy Cole has become somewhat irritated that her note has achieved such national prominence. I would be annoyed too, considering that it contains a real howler (discrete for discreet). It’s been misinterpreted, she protested, “We are not all extreme feminists or sluts. We are just normal women trying to enjoy Cambridge life.” Absolutely, Lizzy, and please do pass on an email to the feminist frights reminding them of that simple truth. Oh, and do the Nuns still run down that wonderful long corridor in red underwear? Incidentally, I, too, sampled one of those delightful cocktails, the Newnham version of the atom bomb.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!


  1. ammmazing, nuns.. i had never had the pleasure of observing this behavior in person. only in those old playboy's erotica columns.. oh and those had some stories.. im surprised what the real deal is in all this. cause all this happens behind closed doors anyways.. and its not like its non existent. either way.. cambridge is definetly not for me :)

  2. Oh, Nitin, you have no idea what you are missing. :-)

  3. Ah well, girls will be girls, Ana. And the press will be the press. I wonder what would have been made of the full-scale student riots of long-yesteryear?

    It occurs to me that, if these lasses had really been nuns, there'd be a visit from a furious Abbess afore long, and many a breezy whipping to follow. ;-)

    It occurred to me that, since I no longer have a reputaion to defend or justify, I would start a blog of my own. It's possible that bits of biography might creep in.

  4. Well, if you were bottled-up in a College whose architecture puts one in mind of a Victorian mental hospital, you'd probably go a bit do-lally yourself after a while, Ana. I mean to say, it's hardly Pembroke, is it?

    You're allowed to say "no comment"!

  5. Psst. I believe it's "Newnham" College that's in Cambridge, not to be confused with its illustrious competitor, Newham(sic)College in East London!

  6. Yes, Jamie; girls will most definitely be girls. :-))

    Oh, Colin, my very own howler! I write too fast. :-)) Corrections made -thanks!

  7. Ah, Hogwarts, Cloisters of Academe.

    I do know Newham College in East London doesn't compare even remotely to the shenanigans of Cambridge NewNham at all. In the world of Captain Alberto Bertorelli from the classic BBC sitcom Allo 'Allo "What a mistake-a to make-a!"

    I am duly reminded of Chaucer's May in 'The Merchant's Tale' who remoulds Januarie 'nearer to the heart's desire.' Chaucer says that women always get their way, they always have their cake and eat it too while men remain blind and that's the way the god's game with us humans

  8. Yes, it's true; women do have a way of getting their way!