Monthly Archives: November 2015

Irregular post

Due to the fact that I felt like a vampire squid for the most of this week(look them up, they can turn themselves inside out!) there will not be a regular post. Instead, here is a picture from one of Marjon publications, commenting on the mixed styles of the buildings on the campus:


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Michael Roberts-poet, teacher, rebel.


The portrait of the principal Michael Roberts as it is in our portrait collection

I was thinking long and hard about todays’ post. I was thinking if I can really ‘do justice’ to somebody that archived much in his life, yet still is mostly unknown. I probably can’t. This is internet, ‘TL;DR’ is the way of the reader around here. But what I can is at least mention him, so you can go out looking and find out what can you learn from Michael Roberts
He hung around Auden and Elliot and published his poems in a few collections, edited and co-authored books. He was a true blue poet, yet he made his career as an educator. Some thought that this is a mistake that being a teacher would kill his poetic spirit. Not so. He was good at what he did. Roberts was bit controversial at the time. See, he had this wild idea to make people think, rather than to repeat ideas. That made him a bit suspect in the eyes of orthodox teachers.
He was a principal of Marjon, even that it was only for a short time (1945-48), he had the thankless job to make Marjon a school again. After the war, when the war hospital finally moved out, the Marjon ‘…building was in poor state, the library mouldy, the furniture gone, the grounds a wasteland.’ Imagine you get that and a task to make it a place of education. But he did it.
As for me, I see him as an ‘updated’  Shuttleworth. Like him, Roberts was all for making the education a tool to combat poverty. But he went a step beyond, he saw the education as a tool for social equality, ‘…the integration of the whole people into a living cultural tradition.’ He understood how the ability to think and reflect is connected to solitude and self-reflection-you can’t learn in an overcrowded home with no space just for yourself.
My tutor once said that history is not only facts and dates, but also a relationship with the people who went before us. I might not have ‘done justice’ to Michael Roberts, but I feel richer by knowing him.

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Beneath the Cassock- The Vicar of Dibley and Marjon

I have to say, I love British comedy. Long time ago there were Thursdays, when a horrible day at school would be forgotten because of The Young Ones and their shenanigans. There were, Tuesdays when the home life would just stop for 20 minutes because everyone would be watching Monty Python. There were Sundays with two highlights: my grandma’s dinner and Hyacinth Keeping Up Appearances and making a fool of herself once again. And now after those years the British comedy just keeps on giving, when I discovered The Vicar of Dibley. Why I am telling you all this? Of course there is a reason and, as always, it is a ‘Marjon reason’.
When the serial was in its planning stage it became apparent that there is a need to ‘model’ Geraldine Granger on somebody. There was a need for an example, a consultant who would answer all the awkward questions about life as a female clergy. That person was Joy Carrol and she was one of ours.
Photo0958There is a book called Beneath the Cassock: the Real Life Vicar of Dibley and it is a story of Joy Carrol, her life, her pastoral work her role in the production of The Vicar of Dibley. There is much more than that as there always is with the books dealing with an important moment in the history. I am referring to the time when women rights to priesthood were finally recognized. I knew next to nothing on that subject, nothing about the tensions inside the world of clergy and how the women changed the dynamics inside it. Now I can finally see the humans behind the bibles and ‘dog collars’. At the same time I learned about the actual experiences of Joy Carrol both inside the church and outside of it. And I was a little chagrined when I read that she was more of a party goer/ activist than an academic:-). Still, the book is a riveting read. Check it out if you have the chance.
The Vicar of Dibley was written and performed with the intent to show priesthood, especially female priesthood, in a positive light. And I think they succeeded spectacularly. I have never seen a serial so good-natured and funny. At the same time I can say: we had fingers in that pie too!:-)

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Awkward Marjon Photos

Ugh! The doom and gloom of November is getting to me, so this time I decided to find something to laugh about. And since the archives always provide, here are the most awkward Marjon photos taken from the prospectuses. Most of those come from the prospectuses published in the 70’s. Something about the disco era that make them stand out. Weird.

Of course this is just a selection and there is much more where those came from. I guess where is history and photography there will always be awkward photos. Is that you on one of those? Recognized anyone? Tell me all about it!

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Divorced from History

I see it happen way too often, the scientist and its subject become separate, divorced from each other through tools, methods and rigidity of thinking. The astronomer cannot see the stars through the equations on the page, the doctor cannot see the patient through the pharma bottles. Even the educator (yes, educating is a science or so I believe) cannot see the pupil through tables of statistics sometimes. But it is quite strange when a person cannot see the history through the day-to-day existence.
We have many different memories that the former students left in the archives and I find it entertaining to read each and every one of those memories. The one I’ve read recently are from 1911-1913, more than a hundred years old. And the story is quite similar to others in many places, a ‘country bumpkin’ found himself suddenly in the middle of London life. He describes the usual student shenanigans, the teachers, the rules. But today I want to say about this other thing that he recollects:
‘We cycled to Epsom and saw the two most exciting Derbies ever run. One when a grey mare Jagalie a rank outrider won 66/1 and the next year 1913 Emily Davidson the suffragette threw herself under the King’s horse and was killed. The favourite Craganour won but was disqualified after the bookmakers had paid out thousands of pounds.’
This memory made me think about the fact that we might not be the people that actively make the history, but by the very act of witnessing we are part of it. And nowadays we have more power to tell our point of view in history and be heard. And we should do that if we have the opportunity. Why? That brings me to my other point. Observe, how in his memories, he equates the day when there was a big pay-out at the races with an important moment in the history of the human rights. And that brings me to my second thought: can we really say what is important for the history? Or maybe we divorce the history from our daily lives because we simply cannot tell what would interest the future historians and we are bound to see our present just as that. Present.

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