I’d been to an all girls school and so wasn’t at all keen on going to a single sex Oxford college. A friend suggested Hertford, one of the five newly mixed colleges, though in truth by the time I arrived in 1976 the college wasn’t so much mixed as spattered with a few women. I never felt anything other than welcome, though I think it took me a long time to find my feet (covered in those days in bright, red wellingtons.) Sometimes I felt intimidated and lonely.
But with the support of tutors such as the inspiring Julia Briggs, Hertford became the place where I began to grow up, somewhere I could think, not just about English literature, but about ballet and Bowie, about punk and philosophy, about the delicate strands of understanding that join and separate people. In my final year, I lived in what I was told was Evelyn Waugh’s old room, in the uppermost gable of new buildings. I used to sit in the window seat, feeling part of a long history. Feeling lucky to be there. It’s something I still feel and I am honoured to be part of the story now on Hertford’s walls.