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Inbox: CAM 98

- 5 minute read
Mira Katbamna

Editor’s letter

Welcome to the Lent Term edition of CAM. The oldest millennials are now parents. Generation Z are graduating from university. So what’s next? Meet Generation Alpha – the oldest of whom, born in 2010, are now 13 years old – and on whom a huge amount of research data has already been collected. We find out just what childhood looks like in 2023.

The impact of Generation Alpha won’t likely be felt until the end of the decade; meanwhile, the decade we thought history had forgotten is making its mark. From Cool Britannia and no-frill flights and from Hong Kong to Moscow, reverberations from the 1990s are being felt, right here, right now.

Elsewhere, Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa imagines what it might really feel like to live a life without oppression, and we meet Charles Darwin’s many collaborators – fellow scientists who sent their observations and insights, via letter, from around the world. On these topics – and on all things Cambridge-related – we look forward to your contribution to the debate, online, by post and email or on social media.

Mira Katbamna (Caius 1995)


I enjoyed, if that’s the right word, Dr Alexander Rodnyansky’s description of the challenges facing the economy of Ukraine. I was one of those advising the government and building a cadre of economists for the central ministries in Kyiv to face the economic crisis of 1994-96. Back then, we tried to rethink policy options in conditions that were, quite simply, beyond extreme. I found Ukrainian economists had the creative insight, analytical skill and above all determination to face circumstances no economic adviser in a western state would relish. Ukrainian character and intelligence can win again. All good wishes to Dr Rodnyansky and his colleagues, and the people of Ukraine.

Mark Gray (Emmanuel 1979)

On the topic of Bridgemas (CAM 97)… It was firmly part of the end-of-term schedule when I was at St John’s as an undergraduate between 2014 and 2017. I remember being told about it by my College Parents at the beginning of term, and accepting it as one of those quirky Cambridge things I must get involved in. In my friendship group, we made sure to attend festive hall together every year, and we even did a small secret Santa. Given that, back at home in Cumbria, my family only put the Christmas tree and decorations up on 22 December, celebrating Christmas in November always felt strange – but it was something I quickly came to love, and I even still think to myself on 25 November every year ‘Merry Bridgemas’.

Laura Day (St John’s 2014)

I was there 2004-08 and the last couple of years at least the word “Bridgemas” was definitely already in use, but not associated with a particular day.

Annie Bartoň (Selwyn 2008)

With regard to the Bridgemas article in the most recent CAM magazine, I can push the date back a little from the article, and can certainly confirm Bridgemas was going strong when I matriculated in 2007.

Ben Pennington (Clare 2007)

Enjoyed the article about celebrating Christmas at the end of Michaelmas term. For us at Homerton (2006-09) it was on the 25th, never known as ‘Bridgemas’ but simply ‘Cambridge Christmas’. In our first year, one of my friend’s parents even cooked a turkey and delivered it to us. It became such an event that it continued as the date of our annual reunion after we graduated.

Dan Rollison (Homerton 2006)

Although we did celebrate an early Christmas with our Cambridge friends I don’t think we called it ‘Bridgemas’. I should add that my all-time favourite part of Cambridge Christmas celebrations was the Advent Carol Service in Trinity Chapel. It still sends a shiver down my spine, thinking about the first time I heard the choir sing Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque. It was both holy and mysterious – everything Christmas ought to be.

Eleanor Holdsworth (Trinity 2004)

I graduated in 2005 having never heard the word Bridgemas but I do recall commenting repeatedly on the phenomenon of enjoying Christmas at Cambridge and then returning home to find it was actually still early in advent and going through the whole build-up again. So the word ‘Bridgemas’ immediately made sense.

Stephen Maloney (Christ’s 2002) You can find more Bridgemas memories on Facebook.

letter hitchhiking

My room, your room Sir Trevor Nunn tells us that he was involved in two productions at the time of his Finals, and that his 2:2 degree was a miracle, but goes on to say that Downing was not a rowing college. I disagree. In the same term, I was in the crew of the College 4th VIII, which won its oars in the Mays. Mine hangs on a wall in our home as proof.

Roger Payne (Downing 1960)

When I arrived at Cambridge in 1992, one thing that shocked me in a positive way was the number of fantastic musicians among my friends and colleagues. I had never played an instrument before then, and was so inspired by them that I told myself that one day I would do so. So now, many years later, I am learning the clarinet and going through the grades for that instrument. Being surrounded by excellence rubbed off, and I am very grateful for it.

Ivan Milatović (Corpus 1992)

In the article about musical and other performance, you say “music making is an empathy booster”. I agree. I started singing in a group at the Queens’ Chapel Choir, which was a delight, and I have been singing in choirs ever since. I found music making made us hungry, and the Dean of Chapel paid for all the choir to have a meal after Evensong at an Indian restaurant in St John’s Street: that was a new experience for me that opened up a whole new cuisine. It is great that the appetite for music making and good food is flourishing at Cambridge.

Brian Stevenson (Queens’ 1965)

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