Dear Lord St John of Fawsley

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Indy Lifestyle Online
What a fortnight. First the gay age of consent is lowered to 18; now Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which you have been Master since 1991, is allowing male and female undergraduates to share a set of rooms. The sexual revolution lives on] The couple that have torpedoed 410 years of tradition at the college, founded by Puritans in 1584, are Ceri Smith and Catherine Hall, both 20. They petitioned the college, and you agreed to change the rules provided couples are not romantically attached.

Congratulations are in order for this proviso, Lord St John, given the volatile nature of affairs of the heart. (You have, wisely, elected to remain a bachelor.) Are you going to employ the sex police, or students who no longer qualify for a grant, to make sure those platonic hugs do not become more urgent as the year progresses? Hell will freeze over before that happens, said Ceri Smith when questioned on the subject. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.

Overall, however, I am disappointed. Dont get me wrong: Im all for coeducation. My heart soared when Emmanuel opened its porters lodge to women in 1979. What disturbs me is Catherines attitude to life with Ceri. I know how untidy he is and how little he likes doing the washing-up, she admits, but I think I know how to handle him.

Catherine and Ceri may share a set cue oak beams, fireplace and ye olde leaded windows but the mood is more flock wallpaper and pastel housecoats. You've got a trainee housewife on your hands.

Washing-up? Whatever happened to splashing out on a satin lampshade to wear for the May Ball, stuffing strawberries and cream, punting in stripey blazers and straw boaters in short, the glorious, unreal hedonism that Cambridge used to represent?

Even if you're trying to get away from the Glittering Prizes vibe, shouldn't students at least be able to put off the horrors of adult life: dealing with rising damp, worrying about dandruff on the antimacassar? Above all, lite universities which are rich in accommodation should allow students to enjoy three years free from the domestic conflict that is cohabitation, romantic or otherwise. It's a problem of which you, as an expert on the marital problems of the Prince and Princess of Wales, can be only too aware.

And what about the sexual revolution? Catherine should be studying during her final year, not scooping up her friend's rugby socks. This is more worrying than any amount of playing nude air guitar in front of the mirror instead of going to lectures, or posing in long black coats rather than getting involved in college sports, or even suffering from occasional reefer madness.

On the other hand, who needs a sexual revolution when your college still employs bedders? You might call them staircase ladies these days, but we know what they do. Platonic cohabition in Cambridge means having a housewife and a cleaner two women to pick up your underpants, instead of just one.

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