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Saturday, August 10, 2002
A notable academic failure

During the second half of the Nineteenth Century, a new college, the largest of them all - Keble - was built in Oxford. It’s Victorian, redbrick style (see picture, figures 2 and 3)) was not to the taste of many Oxford academics and, my scouts tell me, their reaction was typically decisive and academic: they formed a society to deal with the problem. Their memorandum and articles of association have eluded me, but their principal obligation related to visits to the college. Any member of the Society for the Abolition of Keble visiting the college had to return with one brick.

I had a look a few days ago and the college is still there. They are even extending the place again (see picture under The work continues). Look here, you dozy lot, you’ve had more than a century to get the job done. You should be ashamed of yourselves. What have you been up to?

Most of the libraries are closed and Oxford academics are all off sunning themselves around the Globe. Some of them will be at conferences trying to demonstrate that they are engaging in scholarly debate. It is to this latter group that my next paragraph is addressed.

Your predecessors have signally failed in the Keble College affair. You now have an opportunity to undertake a far more important exercise and redeem your tarnished reputation(s). What is more, it is a matter of national importance. Please pay attention. When the time comes, you will need to act decisively and heroically. Watch this space. I am relying on you.

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