Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Retirement of Dame Fiona: The Spell is Broken

Over the last few weeks, there have been many goodbyes for Dame Fiona Caldicott who has been Principal of Somerville College for fourteen years and is retiring this summer. There have been numerous formal dinners, lunches, and so forth to see her off and to celebrate the years of her good leadership (At one I such event I even wore my first real bow tie – the kind you actually have to tie instead of clipping on – which only took me about an hour to figure out).

Now, Fiona is not one for giving long speeches, or listening to long speeches for that matter, but these things are hard to avoid when coming to the end of an era. Of these speeches given at these formal events, probably the best one was given by the JCR president (Junior Common Room – meaning undergraduate student body). It was in some ways long and rambling and it even had some cringe-worthy moments. However, it was also very heartfelt – and he was brave enough to say what everyone around the college had been thinking for the last few weeks: The spell is broken.

If you have been reading my blog over the last year, you will already know that the most important icon of Somerville College has for years been Pogo the cat. While Pogo nominally belongs to Dame Fiona, mysteriously no one would ever see the two of them together at the same time. This led to a common belief that Pogo is actually Fiona’s alter-ego --- and the reason that Fiona seemed so well informed about what was going on in every corner of the college was because she wandered the grounds, undetected, in the form of her cat.

But over the last few weeks, on numerous occasions people actually saw Pogo and Fiona together. I even saw it myself. Hushed whispers spread quickly around the college: The spell is broken.

You see, as Fiona bids farewell to the college, her need for such strong magic is no longer, so she and Pogo can now go into retirement at their regular home as a regular person and a regular cat.

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