Naomi and Ally in their Singer Chamois circa 1988NAOMI DAVIES WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

It is unsurprising that Cambridge is arguably awash with hopeless romantics. On the Cambridge bucket list is naturally finding your ride or die (arguably a euphemism for cycling down King’s Parade on Saturday afternoon in the height of June). I ascribe to being a follower of the cult of Richard Curtis and thought it would renew my faith in finding the love of my life at this university if I spoke to those who had successfully managed to do so.

Naomi and Ally - Jesus 1987

Naomi and Ally matriculated at Jesus in 1987 and happily found themselves sharing the same staircase. It was Ally’s elusive nature that first intrigued Naomi, as he didn’t surface for the first couple of weeks of term, perhaps a wise decision considering the chaos that can ensue in Freshers week. What then could be more fitting than a game of intrigue to bond over? The couple first were introduced over a game of Trivial Pursuit that was taking place in Naomi’s room. Naomi naturally, did stress that Ally claimed to have answered a question correctly, when in reality despite disputing everyone else in the room — he was in fact incorrect.

“Looking for someone who, was no more intelligent, no less intelligent — a complete equal”

Opposites do indeed attract, with Naomi being a historian and Ally being a Natsci. However, the differing backgrounds of the two cemented their bond further. Ally, having spent a couple of years out before coming up to Cambridge and almost frogmarched to apply to Jesus to study Natural sciences, really didn’t know what to expect, let alone find a partner for life. Whilst when asked whether she thought that she may find her husband at Cambridge, Naomi’s answer was unequivocally yes. Naomi noted that one of the central reasons for applying to Jesus was the fact that there were four men to every one woman at the college. After all, Naomi’s parents had set a precedent for her by meeting themselves at Oxford. However, Naomi noted that she was looking for someone who, ‘was no more intelligent, no less intelligent — a complete equal’. A lesson to us all attempting to court someone.

In the first couple of weeks of knowing each other, Ally would stick post-it notes on Naomi’s door attempting to help her tune her radio to find Radio 4. Arguably this is far more romantic than anyone attempting to connect to Eduroam in 2023. After the coy post it note based communications at the beginning of their first term of undergraduate life, Ally took the opportunity to quite literally spark fireworks by asking Naomi (and admittedly her friend Nicky) to the fireworks on Midsummer common. Naomi and Nicky believed Ally to be asking Nicky on a date, but happily it was Naomi who Ally indeed had asked out, and to this day they celebrate the fifth of November as their anniversary.

Naomi and Ally in their uni yearsNaomi Davies with permission for Varsity

Beyond being able to tune a radio, Naomi was drawn to Ally by the fact that he had a car at university, signalling that he was far more mature and distinguished than perhaps your regular undergrad. But it was also the fact that the couple came from different backgrounds that drew the couple closer together. Ally, privately educated and having been in the Army, from a suburban background. In comparison to Ally whose parents were “Communist wannabes” leading a sporadic existence and expected her to marry someone from a less conventional background.

Romance can be a little turbulent beyond within the Cambridge bubble, but happily Naomi and Ally’s bubble didn’t burst, despite noting that they perhaps would have been better meeting in their third year, rather than in their first term. Despite this, engagement was on the cards for the couple within their third year and in 1991, the couple married, with their reception at the University Centre. A rather low key and relaxed affair with no plus ones and specifically, ‘no hats’.


Naomi and Ally, aside from having lived in Milan for a couple of years, still happily live in Cambridge. Naomi works as an Artist painting rather delightful scenes of Cambridge (as pictured above) and Ally having taught Physics at different local schools over the past thirty or so years. If you were looking to screen write an archetypal romantic comedy set in Cambridge this may just be the love story you were looking for.

Cecily and Nia - Caius and Clare 2018

Hopping into a time machine, we forward the Corpus clock to 2018. Cecily and Nia, both English undergraduates in the same cohort, made what would be a rather fateful decision in the trajectory of their lives. The only two undergraduates to have selected the Medieval English paper in their year, naturally one would perhaps bond with the only other person in your lecture. Clearly, to sceptics reading this, there is indeed value in being a medievalist. I sat down with the couple, as they were on the hunt for a guillotine, happily to cut their wedding invitations into shape, rather than anything more sinister.

Cecily and Nia graduating at the Other Placececily fasham with permission to varsity

Perhaps rather akin to modern day star crossed lovers heartbreakingly the pandemic separated the two during their second year and it wasn’t until the Lent of their third year that they finally started their relationship, at the first opportunity when they were both together again. Notably, the couple were part of a wider friendship group who wanted to evoke the sentiment of Brideshead Revisited during their time here, so perhaps it is unsurprising that Waugh’s work catalysed romance.

cecily fasham with permission to varsity

Cecily and Nia both eventually went on to study differing forms of English MA’s at the other place, in addition to both being offered a place at Pembroke on the English programme — noting that they would have made up two thirds of the cohort at the College. A rather awkward third wheel situation may have occurred for the other person if had opted to stay.


Mountain View

Lifestyle’s ultimate date spot guide

The abundance of crocuses and the ability to walk to Grantchester at dusk (as well as Cecily commencing a PhD here) has drawn the couple back to fulfil Nia’s mothers expectations of her finding her partner here. Although similar to Naomi, Cecily is following in the well trodden footsteps of both of her parents meeting at Oxford. One does start wondering whether the other place is equal in providing the atmosphere and setting for lasting romance in a varsity match of the heart.

The next time you are perhaps walking back from Revs or MASH sobbing over someone you were dating, let this be a small reminder that — love is really all around or even just on your staircase.