It was a golden summer morning in Oxfordshire as we drove into the city of dreaming spires. It is a place of history and beauty, almost mythological in its romantic pull on the soul – picturesque architecture at every turn, the stones glowing in the sunlight: perhaps I would like to have lived there myself at one time, but it won’t happen now – we couldn’t afford it for one thing!
For Martin it is a place he revisits with mixed emotions. He went up to the university in 1974 after a gap year working for a furniture charity in Birmingham – a real eye opener for a well-brought-up southern lad! He studied Physiological Sciences and was a member of Worcester college, earning a 1st in 1977 – though his housemates had to pack him off home and he doesn’t actually remember the 2 weeks before sitting finals! He then won a scholarship to do a 3 year DPhil in immunology at the William Dunn School of Pathology, so when he transferred to Cambridge to do his clinical medicine course, he was already Dr Dyer – and within a few weeks had met a certain Staff Nurse Woodward.
The rest is history – and her story! – but suffice it to say, that the Oxford days of Martin’s bachelorhood were before my time and although I have met the legendary friends and heard the student tales many times, all I know is that he can still get very wistful when we visit the city… Well, perhaps the academic world thinks that Oxford is the pinnacle of achievement – the oldest university in the (English speaking) world and all that – and to be a Professor there is the height of excellence: but if being a Professor in Leicester means you are in the centre of God’s will its probably better to settle for the Midlands.
So returning to home-base again so many years later was a bit of a risk – but my dear husband wanted to show me, the gardener in the family, the wonderful Worcester College gardens in their July glory! So we had VIP tickets to the alumni annual open day, including lunch in the dining hall, and armed with my camera and our smart Oxford-type outfits we braved the prestigious and hallowed courts.
Even I can’t relay all the emotions of that day – and perhaps that story isn’t mine to tell. All I can say is it was a resounding success and the Leicester Professor felt not at all inferior and very happy to be among people just like him, who in some way were all coming home for a visit. May the pictures speak for themselves – here is Worcester College – a view inside the walls!