I realise it is far too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2016, but send that message, anyway. At least I’m comfortably early to wish Chinese friends a Happy New Year for 8 February.
2016 marks a number of anniversaries, including - alas - many major battles and uprisings: 950 years since the Battle of Hastings and the start of the Norman Conquest of England; 25 years since the end of the Gulf War; 100 years since the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme, which saw between them the loss of over 550,000 lives; 100 years since the Easter Rising in Dublin; 80 years since the Spanish Civil War; 75 years since the attack in Pearl Harbor. It is important to keep such anniversaries in our memories.
Anniversaries of major UK and international events include: 30 years since Spain and Portugal joined the European Union; 90 years since the UK’s General Strike; 200 years since Argentina’s declaration of independence from Spain; 50 years since the Chinese Cultural Revolution; and 25 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It’s also 20 years since the cloning of Dolly the sheep; 50 years since England won the World Cup in football; 350 years since the Great Fire of London; 100 years since Einstein published his theory of relativity; 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, and – on an entirely different track – 50 years since the first episode of Star Trek. Closer to home, the Fitzwilliam Museum is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge it’s 250th, and the Cambridge University Library, it’s 600th!
Of these anniversaries, our talks in the summer will mark a number, but not all.
Looming large among these will, of course, be Shakespeare. We’re already excited about the tickets we have purchased for the programme of optional weekend excursions: to see Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, and Cymbeline at Stratford.
Still on excursions, the medieval town of Norwich, which boasts a cathedral (founded 920 years ago), a hospital (founded over 760 years ago) and a medieval trading hall (completed over 580 years ago), features in our last excursion of the summer.
Bletchley Park, used from 1938 as a World War II code-breaking site and featuring in the film The imitation game, doesn’t celebrate a specific anniversary this year, but was always concerned with counting! We have a course on Cryptography in the Science Summer Programme, and will once again hope to have Dr James Grime give his popular evening talk on the Enigma code-breaking machine.
We’re also excitedly checking the accepted application count at the end of each week: numbers are looking very healthy so far, and new applications come in daily. It’s an exciting time of year!
We’re planning another Virtual Open Day, on Wednesday 24 February, and would be very pleased if you could alert potential new students to that.
We’re delighted to see how many people come as a result of recommendations by former (or continuing) participants. Please do help to spread the word if you have been to our programmes and enjoyed them: you’re in a great position to be able to answer questions that potential students might have. You might also know of people who cannot attend themselves, but who might be willing to support a family member: our Gift vouchers scheme will now be extended throughout the registration cycle, to enable anyone to give all or part of a Cambridge Summer Programme’s experience as a gift.
A belated Happy New Year, everyone. Clusters of snowdrops are already out in the Madingley Hall gardens, so – particularly for those of you struggling with harsh weather conditions - here’s to Spring!
Sarah J Ormrod, 29 January 2016