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Mira Katbamna

Editor’s letter

Welcome to the Easter edition of CAM. Kierkegaard thought it the root of all evil. Mary Renault considered it intellectual defeat. Jean Baudrillard declared it the world’s second worst crime. But where boredom might once have been something to fear, today we are never truly bored. In an era of social media, smartphones and non-stop notifications, how can we be? But could boredom actually be good for us? We examine the evidence.

Of course, if you are an Ottoman Emperor, boredom isn’t really much of a problem. Intricate diplomacy, complex politics and, of course, the small matter of running an empire keeps you fairly busy. But if that isn’t quite enough, how about building a flatpack Swiss-style chalet in your back garden? Dr Deniz Türker tells the story of how a 19th-century global craze for timber buildings would come to define the domestic architecture of Istanbul.

Elsewhere, Cambridge alumni and academics share their summer reading lists, and Professor Giovanna Mallucci explains why her latest research has the potential to transform care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, we are now able to include – opposite and online – far more of your letters, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. However you choose to join the debate, we look forward to hearing from you.

Mira Katbamna (Caius 1995)

Social media



The porters were definitely the cornerstone of our college – I remember every single one of them and everything they did for me. From stupid (sometimes drunken) problems, to enquiring about my Nana’s health and counselling my work stresses, I’m forever grateful. @Cambridge_Uni
Leah Crimes (Homerton 2004)

Will never forget my bike breaking at 1am on the way back from a party. I carried it as far as Wolfson, where the night porter tried to fix it. When he couldn’t, he rang the main lodge, and one of them came to rescue me (and the bike) so that I wouldn’t have to walk home in the dark. Definitely above and beyond.
Sarah Reynolds (Girton 2002)

When I came up to Cambridge in 1946, you were expected to grit your teeth and cope. It never occurred to me to go to my tutor. As for bothering the porters…! Later, as librarian of the Department of Geography, my experience prompted me to watch out for any students who did not seem to be settling in. Sometimes I provided humbugs.
Geoffrey Willett (St Catharine’s 1946)

In 1984, I came back to St John’s for the first time in 21 years, along with our son, then 18. We stopped at the Lodge, there to be met by Bob Fuller. “Ah, I remember you – Brown A,” he said and turning to our son: “I could tell you quite a few tales about your father if you’d like to come back and hear them…”
Andrew Brown (St John’s 1960)

Ian at Queens’ was the embodiment of what porters should aspire to. He learned my name the first day, always cheered me up, and exuded confidence and competence. I felt so at home because of him.
Graham Shea (Queens’ 2011)

I second Ian – he was a legend.
Hamza Mirza (Queens’ 2015)

I will never forget the amazing Trinity porter who helped to carry my 47kg suitcase across Great Court and to my second-floor room. It was my first day in the UK. How wonderful to experience British hospitality at its finest! Karen Cheuk (Trinity 1999)

Brian Buncombe, Deputy Head Porter, king of my heart!
Katharine Wiggell (Girton 2013)

Porters do an amazing job – I’m so glad to hear they get mental health training now!
Claire Warne (Magdalene 2006)

Smash the patriarchy

#SmashThePatriarchy thought-provoking words @Cambridge_Uni Alumni Magazine. Equal Pay demonstration poster from 1944!! Seventy-four years later we’re still fighting for equal pay #TimesUp #EqualPay #GenderEquality.
Kristina Lewis (New Hall 2007)

Can we toss the word ‘feminism’ into the dustbin and replace it with ‘fequality’ to be matched with ‘hequality’. Let us treat both sexes equally except where gender creates natural differences.
Ian Reynolds (Emmanuel 1961)

Frugal innovation

I remember the old Osokool cold cabinets: “No gas or electricity! Nothing to go wrong.” Now in the UK we don’t need them, having ice on demand (which of course the Osokool couldn’t produce). However there are many principles like this, which may serve when need calls, and whose value may change as energy costs continue to rise.
Charles Greenough (Queens’ 1972)


I enjoyed the Two-Minute Tripos article but what a pity sheep cannot spell Huntington’s disease. The consolation is that confusing it with Huntingdon does display some knowledge of local geography.
Roger Kellett (Emmanuel 1958)

Editor’s note: And evidently, neither can your editor. CAM is checked multiple times, but I am afraid this one got through. As you can imagine, I am feeling rather sheepish.


Very impressed by both the design and content of CAM, but is there any alternative to the plastic wrapping you use, which presumably is non-recyclable and doesn’t break down in landfill?
Victoria Kingston (New Hall 1993)

Editor’s note: We aim to produce the magazine as responsibly as possible: CAM is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council using vegetable inks. The plastic wrapping can be recycled as plastic waste and we will continue to review the possibility of using fully biodegradable wrapping.

I really enjoy reading CAM. Your selection of content is really engaging and has great coverage, from the humour of the porters to heavy-hitting articles on misconduct.
Loona Hazarika (Fitzwilliam 1988)


Cambridge Underwater Exploration Group – 62 years young! We did ‘basic training’ at Perse School baths – where Nick Flemming worked out survey techniques for the underwater mapping of Apollonia.

My very first dive in open water was at Arlesey Quarry, with ice floes and a good covering of snow around. The Facebook page suggests no lack of ambition today; may the Group go forward for as long again!
Alan Brown (Selwyn 1955)

Write to us

We are always delighted to receive your emails, letters, tweets and facebook posts.

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CAM, 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AB CAM, 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AB By writing
CAM, 1 Quayside, Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AB
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Please mark your letter ‘For publication’. Letters may be edited for length.

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