The Graduate’s Progress (from this College to that which is to come)

Our story-spinning columnist Melbury tells of young Graduate and his arduous quest to find a righteous college.

Melbury ​​​​​​​​​​

Graduate waves farewell, and begins his journeyWikipedia Commons; Editing: Melbury

Join me, dearest reader, in congratulating GRADUATE, whose Linkedin brings happy tidings of a first-class degree and a place at Cambridge to become a Master of Philosophy. But little does Graduate know that, despite his academic hurdles having been cleared, yet ahead is a difficult choice indeed: which college should he select?

Back when Graduate was an under, he attended a fine college of kings. But he had recently undergone a great spiritual realignment when his friend ORGAN SCHOLAR had made him wise to, and disdainful of, the carnal nature of his institution. Graduate searches now for a purer base from which to perform his good works and journey ever towards righteousness — he needs a college of rigorous academic standard and outstanding moral purity. But which college can fulfil such criteria? Camfess confirms for us daily how many are devilish and contemptible. As in all matters of spiritual import, Graduate turned to his friend, Organ Scholar:

Graduate: But my friend, how am I to find a college that meets the standards you say I should require? Might not I stay here with the kings, read among its fellows and worship from within its great chapel, to the tune of your playing? This seems an altogether agreeable way to pass the year.

Organ Scholar: Dearest Graduate, while our chapel is grand and our fellows learnèd, you will do well to trust in the greater colleges beyond, and seek them. Our combination room may be filled by talk of betterment unto the people, we must have faith that there is a place where our ideals are made manifest. Go forth, my friend, and discover it!

“Graduate, astonished that pernicious characters like economists were allowed anywhere near civilisation, looked upon the scene with a scowl.”

And so, on the advice of his companion, Graduate set about finding the college where civic virtue was not only spoken of, but earnestly practiced. He asked his friend, “Where might I begin my search, for glories of the celestial college?”. The good Scholar replied, where better to begin than those of the saints and apostles? Graduate accordingly bid goodbye to his bedder, and began his arduous journey, in righteous search of the perfect college.

- Chapter I — St. Edmund’s College -

First was the college of St Edmund, which Graduate couldn’t seem to find. Righteously, he gave up and moved on.

- Chapter II — Peterhouse -


Mountain View

The Fellow of the UL Tower

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Himself an evangelical, Graduate was pressed upon by a gentle suspicion when coming by the college of St Peter, but he pushed this aside when remembering its more than £200 million endowment, the greatest per student in the University. What virtuous acts could be done in a place of such consequence! Well, little did Graduate realise, that a crowd of folk thought something similar, and had gathered in force in the Old Court. The LEASEHITTERS were assembled and railing at the fellows and porters of the college. Any good man or woman would look brightly on their demands, they thought: the rents should be slashed, the pay for all staff increased, and the facilities improved — in short, everything should be made better, and it fell to the pastoral structures of the college to see that this was made so. The fellows and porters replied…

The Staff: All good aims, dear children! But how shalt these bills be footed?

The Leasehitters: £200 million! £200 million! Put it to use, to use at once!

Just as Graduate’s spirit lifted at the sight of so virtuous a fight for justice, a coalition of ECONOMISTS arrived, representing the carnal colleges of Pembroke, Queens’ and Selwyn. They addressed the Leasehitters with the most shocking obscenities, among them “only x% of endowments can be accessed each year”, and “Cambridge accommodation is really quite reasonably priced considering the national context”. Graduate, astonished that pernicious characters like economists were allowed anywhere near civilisation, looked upon the scene with a scowl. What he heard had appalled him, and so with righteous anger, he moved on.

Graduate despairs at the economists' evil wordsChris Juden / Flickr; Editing: Melbury

- Chapter III — St. John’s College -

As Graduate wandered towards the grandeur of New Court, he was nursing a sense of hesitation that I’m sure many a Cantabrigian would share. He had come across a character on his way, who went by KLASAKT, and gave Graduate a warning.

Klasakt: St. John’s?! My dear Graduate, I wouldn’t touch the place. Have you been to their bar? They say the most awful things. And it’s absolutely crawling with Tories.

Graduate was shocked at the news, but despite the apparent infestation of Jacobites, upon chatting with the porters he found there was a great deal to recommend the place. It had ample resources and good humanitarian credentials among her alumni, with Wilberforce and Clarkson included. Quite taken by this college, and the potential it held, Graduate optimistically made his way to dinner with the Master and Fellows, to discuss his matriculating there.

“The Master and Fellows all fell about in maniacal laughter, once again proving themselves to be the bad guys.”

Having donned the proper academical dress, Graduate opened the parlour door to meet the fellowship, finding the room dark and candlelit. The Master offered Graduate a seat, at which point he saw the first sign of trouble. In the middle of the table, and indeed on all the plates, sat a roasted swan! His shock at the exercise of this most ancient right was so deep that he forgot even to tweet about how severely upset he was. And yet even this was not the most sinister thing he came across in St John’s, for he overheard the plotting of the doctors PRIVILEGE, SOUTH, and ÉTONNÉ, regarding a new scheme of bursary.

Dr Privilege: And so, Master, we have settled upon a fund of several million to provide free places for working students.

Master: And why? We already have many!

Dr South: Ah, Master, but you see this will attract a disproportionate number of working applicants to our college…

Dr Étonné: And so we shall have little choice but to pool most of them, sending them to colleges…

Master: With less generous bursary schemes! Oh, my dear men, this is selfish of us.

Graduate, now clad in armour of righteous courage, makes his escape from St John'sPixabay; Editing: Melbury

The Master and Fellows all fell about in maniacal laughter, once again proving themselves to be the bad guys. Graduate, involuntarily rising from his seat in his horror, realised how wrong a turn he had taken. This was perhaps the most evil college he had seen — he had to escape forthwith! In a movement, he swiped the swan from their grubby bourgeois fingers, and righteously dashed out into the night (while snacking on some of the swan — it would be a shame to waste it, after all.) Once he had alerted Camfess to the nefarious Johnian schemes, he sat along the Backs, desperately tired. His quest for virtue was truly exhaustive work. It seemed much distance had yet to be travelled before he found a college of basic moral quality.