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I’ve now lived in the UK long enough that when I see a book marked $0.10 on Amazon, I think to myself, It’s only 10 p (pronounced pee). Then I remember, and realise it’s actually only 6p. Now to find out whether it’s worth reading at any price. Right after I finish this translation. And the one after it. 

You know what, I’ll get to it next week.

o O o

Near the Backs, Cambridge | FarOuterHebrides

A few weeks ago, I went to a conference in Cambridge.

Corpus Christi, Cambridge

I was struck by how much sunnier it was than Edinburgh. 4 degrees in latitude and a lack of cloud cover are not insignificant during the deeps of winter. I spent a lot of time indoors, but when I did get out, I found the town smaller than I expected, and charming.

Newnham College, Cambridge

The colleges (rather like the houses of Hogwarts, I gather, in that you live within your college and, unlike in Hogwarts, take your meals there) give a (justified) impression of age, dignity and continuity.

Newnham College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi college, where we stayed, contained old and new courtyards surrounded by a labyrinth of archways and tunnels connecting venerable buildings. Instead of long hallways, students live on ‘staircases’ that honeycomb the outer buildings of the complex. I stayed on X staircase, right past the statue of the pelican that marks the college pub. Happily (and necessarily, as we were staying in student rooms, the occupants having packed their things out for Christmas holidays), term had not started yet and residents were still frequenting other pubs.

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

I got to see firsthand some of the puzzling institutions Sayers describes in Gaudy Night, though her university was Oxford, not Cambridge: the Buttery, an old-school cafeteria where the tables are still divided into the short head table at the top and three running the length of the dark-paneled, rich-windowed refectory; the porter’s lodge, where a friendly gentleman dispensed keys, mail, maps and directions, and watched over the gate–a set of solid, dark doors beneath a tunnel to the street–after hours; the various colleges scattered throughout town.

Newnham College, Cambridge | FarOuterHebrides

Incidentally, if I have even given you advice regarding the taking of buses (airport buses don’t count) in unfamiliar towns, I hereby reiterate it: Don’t. Walking will save you much trouble in the long run. Corpus Christi, Cambridge