e-Matters 8th September 2020

Amongst our membership lies great experience, wisdom, and insight, so rather than stay silent (not a modus to which the Development & Alumni Relations Office subscribes!) we thought we should bring you some thoughts and reflections from our own broad community. These pieces are also featured in our regular e-Matters newsletter. If you would like to sign up to receive e-Matters please contact development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk


Dear Members and Friends,

We trust that you and yours are safe and well and that you have been able to have something of a break over the summer. The development and alumni team is back at work and looking forward to what will undoubtedly be a challenging Michaelmas term.

We start this edition of e-Matters with an appeal for support for our students. The importance of the work that is done at the House and Oxford is perfectly illustrated in the piece by Graham Ogg on the research he has done on T cells, and by Robin Thompson's continuing work on mathematical modelling.

There are also tremendous pieces on the Meadows' restoration and in the alumni section on German-Jewish emigres.

Regular reads include Emily's wine blog, alumni book reviews, and Roger Davies' Stargazing article. News from alumni around the world has a third thought provoking instalment of Jasper Reid's experiences in India.

Your support is also sought for the Boat Club charity row in aid of Fulham Reach Boat Club, and Tuppy Morrisey's project in aid of the Salvation Army.

Finally, there is a fascinating discussion between Steven Grahl and Piers Connor Kennedy on his setting of Psalm 137, and an invitation to listen to the 14th annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Organ Concert on Tuesday 29th September.

Happy reading!

With best wishes, 
Mark Coote and the Development Team


Archive News from the House: 8th September 2020


COVID-19 Student Support Fund

A hallmark of alumni giving at Christ Church has been the continuity of student support. Donations towards helping students during their time at the House - and thereby making the most of the many opportunities that we are able to offer - have led the way in the collegiate university. In fact, the House spends more on student support and on access and outreach activities than any other college. We have also helped pioneer, through significant funding, the Target Oxbridge programme, which supports talented Black students in applying to Oxford and Cambridge. 
Upper LibraryWe are now asking our alumni, friends and supporters to help us with our COVID-19 Student Support Fund. Over the long vacation, and as we prepare to reopen the college and welcome students to the House at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, it has become clear that the amount and quality of support we need to provide will be markedly different than before. For a start, a number of students’ family circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact and we are already witnessing a rise in requests for financial assistance.
In areas of learning support and teaching, the pandemic has encouraged us to find new ways of engaging with our students and pursuing the scholarship for which Oxford is renowned. However, additional resources to support students both at home and in college are required.
For instance, students coming from abroad are having to quarantine for two weeks before arrival and many are likely to have to stay in residence over the vacations in future, in order to avoid further periods of quarantine. In other cases, students are requesting help to cover unexpected travel costs related to disrupted schedules. We have also had more students than usual expressing worries about meeting their basic accommodation and meal expenses.
Some Freshers have endured a substantially dislocated end-of-school experience, and it is anticipated that they may need to access additional teaching and learning resources upon arrival. We are also making provision for additional mental health support for students who would benefit from extra care at a very stressful time. And some of our Graduate students and Junior Research Fellows may need extensions in order to finish research disrupted by the pandemic.
While Christ Church already sets aside substantial sums for student welfare and support, we are anticipating additional demand of at least £40,000, and probably more depending on how long the current situation continues.
Safety within Christ Church is paramount - putting in place arrangements to allow for social distancing, regular deep cleaning and sanitising, installing special partitioning within communal areas – and this requires extra funding. Just one example is the likely need for a UV-light air-sterilising machine for the Upper Library, as the library has so many historic surfaces that ozone cleaning may be the safest way to manage sanitisation.
Arrangements have also been made to provide safe distancing within all Library areas. This inevitably results in the need for additional study space. To that end, we will be using the Upper Library, the Exhibition Space, the JCR and GCR, and possibly the Thatched Barn as additional study spaces with socially distanced seating. Additional expense comes with the need for invigilation and the regular cleaning of these areas, amounting to some £10,000 per term.
Relaxing in the Masters GardenWe are also providing safe social spaces for our students. We were one of the first colleges to address this important aspect of student life by erecting a large marquee within the Masters’ Garden with an outdoor bar. Here, Junior Members will be able to meet one another before and after meals in a well-ventilated, but protected outdoor setting. It will also allow our many student clubs and societies to have a safe place to meet given the current prohibition on holding indoor gatherings amongst students living in different housing ‘bubbles.’ Hiring and heating the marquee is expected to cost approximately £15,000 per term – and we are currently assuming that we will need to keep the marquee for both Michaelmas and Hilary Terms.
These are just some examples of where the House has had to adapt to the demands of the pandemic. We are thus hoping to raise new funds to match the extra expenditure of at least £90,000. Because the future is uncertain, Christ Church is committed to supporting our community of students and scholars at all levels. The fact that this can happen at a time when there is enormous demand on the institution’s finances, but income streams have been severely curtailed, is testament in no small way to your previous generosity. Thank you.
We are disappointed that we cannot see you, or bring you together at events at the moment, in order to explain what we are doing and thank you for your support in person. But for now, these emails must suffice. Nonetheless, the sincerity of our appeal is no less deep, and the needs about which we write no less real.
Should you be able to help support our students during this very challenging time, we encourage you to help make a difference now.
Thank you for your continued support of the House. Please donate here if you can and select the option of "Open Doors: Access, Outreach and Student Support". 
Mark Coote
Director of Development 


Professor Graham Ogg co-leads Breakthrough COVID-19 Immunity Research

Interim Director of the Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit, Professor Graham OggProfessor Graham Ogg, Interim Director of the Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit and a Senior Associate Research Fellow at Christ Church, has co-lead ground-breaking research into Covid-19 immune response, the results of which were recently published.

The study was a joint effort from the Oxford Covid-19 immunology group, led by the Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Chinese Academy of Medical Science Oxford Institute at the University of Oxford.

The results, published in Nature Immunology, show that natural infection with COVID-19 produces a robust T cell response, including ‘memory’ cells to potentially fight future infections.

Whilst previous research into COVID-19 immune response has demonstrated B cell antibodies were produced, it had been less clear whether COVID-19 causes the immune system to make virus-specific T cells too. T cells are longer lasting than antibodies and could be used to test whether someone has had a past Covid-19 infection over a longer time frame. Further analysis of the T cells could also help scientists understand why some individuals develop milder symptoms, and eventually lead to the treatment and prevention of infections.

Professor Ogg said: “We found that individuals with mild COVID-19 had a different pattern of T cell response when compared to those with more severe infection; this could help provide insights to the nature of immune protection.”

The researchers also found evidence from the T cell study to support the approach for many of the current vaccines in development, including the Oxford vaccine  In addition, the research team found new parts of the virus that induce a strong immune response, and so could be used in the development of alternative vaccines.

Professor Ogg commented: “The research demonstrates the power of bringing together many clinicians and scientists to address a global challenge, and we are extremely grateful to all of those involved, especially the research participants.”

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford and a member of Christ Church’s Governing Body, said: “This is a very important paper that establishes the importance of T cell responses to COVID infections. Many of the puzzles associated with this disease may be solved with a better understanding of this arm of the immune response and this paper establishes the basis on which those studies can occur.”

The team now plan to investigate how long T cell immune memory lasts and whether this might have implications for novel diagnostic tests and new treatments. For further information, follow this link.


Dr Robin Thompson: COVID-19 Research

Portrait of Dr Robin ThompsonDr Robin Thompson is continuing to work on mathematical modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He recently led a collaborative team of researchers from universities worldwide to write an article outlining key current challenges for modelling COVID-19 exit strategies. A blog about that research article is available here.
Robin also recently delivered a short talk on behalf of the university about using models to plan interventions during epidemics, followed by a discussion. Click here to watch the talk.


Meadow Restoration

Flail mowing in the meadowIn partnership with Long Mead Local Wildlife Site near Eynsham, Christ Church is starting a project to restore the species rich nature of Christ Church Meadow.
This will form part of the Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project, which plans to reconnect the wildflower meadows of the Upper Thames floodplain, from Oxford to the National Nature Reserve at Chimney Meadow near Faringdon. 

Long Mead Local Wildlife Site is a privately owned, species rich ancient floodplain meadow and is providing the source of seed for us to spread on Christ Church Meadow.

Important species that have been lost include Yellow Rattle, Great Burnet, Bedstraws and Ragged Robin amongst many others.

Click here to read more about the Meadow Restoration.


Christ Church Boat Club Row in Aid of Fulham Reach Boat Club

Logo of the ChCh Boat ClubOn the weekend of 18th September 2020, four members of Christ Church Boat Club will row from Oxford to Fulham in support of the Boat Club’s partnership with Fulham Reach Boat Club. They aim to complete the 115mi/185km in a two rower skiff, with one person acting as coxswain and the fourth member providing support from the bank. The goal is to complete the journey within two days, aiming to finish by sundown on Saturday 19th September.

The Fulham Reach Boat Club charity aims to unlock the potential of young people through rowing. The Fulham Reach's coaches use four key aspects of rowing that help develop future life skills: Teamwork, “pull together’’; Focus; Confidence; and Ambition.

Some of the ChCh Boat Club rowersFRBC aim to create a sustainable and successful rowing club in all 12 London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham state schools by 2021 and demonstrate the improvements in physiology, behaviour, social skills and academic results through participation. Having achieved this, they aim to open up the same opportunity to the students at all 52 state secondary schools which border the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race course.

For more information about Fulham Reach Boat Club, please visit: https://www.fulhamreachboatclub.co.uk/

To support the Christ Church Boat Club crew of Eoin Simpkins (President), John Broadbent, Peter Kilfeather and Charmaine Lang please click here to visit their Just Giving page.

Click here for more event information on Christ Church Boat Club Row to Fulham Facebook Page.


Emily's Wine Blog

Buttery Manager Emily RobothamWhile we hope that wine service will resume shortly at the House, I have been thinking about other natural disasters that impacted the wine trade. The history of wine is the history of the social and political conditions that allow for a good time; at times of popular disaffection, wine is often framed as a luxury good and an unaffordable non-essential.

I have recently returned from Provence, where winemakers celebrate the origin of their winemaking in the civilising effects of the colonising Greeks and Romans. The thirsty Eternal City in particular consumed vast quantities of wine from Southern France as well as Southern Italy. Trade went both ways, with Provence importing wine as well as exporting it; we know this because some of those shipments unfortunately were shipwrecked just off the coastline. Industry was disrupted in AD79 with the eruption of the volcano Mt Vesuvius, not only flattening the big pleasure-ports of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but also the vineyards in surrounding areas.

It must have been a decade of boom for the vineyards of ‘Provincia’, leading to a huge increase in planting at the expense of the other major Provençal export: pork. Pork sausages were the backbone of the Roman Empire’s diet; the colonies had to pick up the habit. In some languages, including ancient Greek, the original word for sausage was replaced by the large vocabulary of transliterated Latin words for numerous varieties of sausages. According to Varro, it was a particularly cheap kind of pork sausage ‘satura’ that gave its name to a major genre of Roman literature, ‘satire.’

To Roman alarmists, morally-corrupting wine of dubious Gallic or Greek origin was replacing good honest Roman sausage. In AD92, the Emperor Domitian banned plantings of any new vineyard in Rome and ordered all those in the provinces to be grubbed up and turned over to something more useful. The Roman Empire wasn’t always kind to ancient Provençal wineries.


Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2020

Photograph of Andrew ChamblinThe fourteenth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Margaret Phillips FRCO ARCM at 8 pm in Christ Church Cathedral on Tuesday 29th September 2020 and streamed live this year due to the pandemic (no physical attendance will be possible).

Ms Phillips will play an hour-long programme of organ works by Bach, Böhm, Frescobaldi, Marchand and Walond. The concert is free.

Click here to watch the live-streamed concert.

portrait of Margaret PhillipsAndrew was born in Lubbock, Texas and brought up in nearby Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. From his upbringing he maintained a strong affinity with his West Texan roots but his interests transcended the provincial, taking him well beyond his childhood home. Cultured and accomplished across both scientific and artistic pursuits, he had an individualistic outlook on life matched by a cheerful disposition and an infectious sense of humour that enabled him to quickly and easily make friends.
A brilliant theoretical physicist, Andrew was additionally distinguished as an organist and harpsichordist with a passion for Bach. In tribute to this, each Memorial Concert usually includes some Bach organ pieces. Organised annually by Dr Jo Ashbourn and Dr Steven Grahl, the series has had a stellar line-up of recitalists over the past 14 years, including Thomas Trotter who gave the inaugural concert in 2007. This year Margaret Phillips will be performing and due to social distancing requirements during the pandemic, the concert will be live streamed online from Christ Church Cathedral for the first time.

Click here to read more about Andrew Chamblin Fund and make a gift.


The Christ Church Music Trust: An Interview with Piers Connor Kennedy

This week we are pleased to share an interview with composer and lay clerk, Piers Connor Kennedy. You may remember that we featured Piers's beautiful setting of Psalm 137 a few weeks ago. The recording of Psalm 137 can be found here.


News from Alumni

Christ Church Association Annual General Meeting

The Christ Church Association AGM was scheduled to take place during the Association weekend, on the 20th September. Regrettably that weekend has had to be postponed, and as a result the Chairman of the Association has decided also to postpone the AGM, as the Constitution allows, for up to a maximum of six months. It is intended to find a date in late January or February for a rescheduled AGM, by which time it is hoped members may be able to meet in person.

Robin Priest, (1976), Chairman


Jasper Reid (1991): India Coronavirus Campaign Update

An Indian familyWe launched this campaign in April, raising more than £230,000 (vs £100k target), feeding and supporting 32,000 people and busing 5,000 home. We have deployed 90% of the capital and the balance is used to help the neediest families in New Delhi, Kolkata and West Bengal. In addition, we respond to credible requests and this week, for example, we supported 16 at-risk families in Kashmir.

In India, times are tough and the virus numbers are running high (75,000+ a day and climbing). However, for the government, our team and the vast majority of people, the focus is on getting back to work and to normal life.

We feel this campaign has been all about LIFE. Nobody we help wants charity; everyone wants to live, to work and the travesty of lockdown, in our opinion, was removing the individual’s right to work or at least to choose between life and risk.

In India risk is everywhere and, every day, people deal with graver issues than Covid-19. In this way, the impact of the virus in India is nothing in comparison to the spirit and resilience of the communities affected. Far from driving people apart, it has brought people closer together. We have seen this again and again and it’s very inspiring.

Most communities in India cannot, in any case, ‘social distance’. It’s anathema and what affects one affects many. Of course the virus brings hardship but, by and large, it comes without the additional and pernicious effects of isolation or enforced separation. In this way, life goes on – together and in the community; for good or for bad.

And so our humble reflection from Mother India is what does life mean if it cannot actually be lived or if the living is apart from one’s fellow man? Is being ‘safe’ from the virus better than working and living? And if we are not living and working what is the point?

India, as most know, can be a hard place to live but our experience of helping people has reaffirmed our belief that India may, conversely, be the greatest celebration of life ever.

Your support and donations connect you to this life and this then becomes your karma. Families in 27 countries helping families across India with both now cosmically linked. This is the good (the epiphany) that comes from such work and is of far greater import than one passing virus. Covid will end but your gifts and the bonds endure.

For us, this is the inner meaning of Covid-19 – the chance (and privilege) to help brothers and sisters and to connect communities even in a small way. And so this campaign is not about death but about life and the chance to create union. In a word, the opposite of the Covid-19 caricature.

Jasper Reid's Team in DehliAt least this is what we think and we wanted to share our reflections from the last few months. Please tell us what you think.

Our team continues to help but the original purpose of the campaign is, we feel, achieved. We wanted to support those ruined by the lockdown and ended up doing much more than we hoped.

This happened because of you. Help in times like this (and in a country like India) is never enough but you did help and this is the difference. Thank you House Members.

For those who want to keep supporting India, come back soon not least that we can meet and thank you properly. We have heard people say they are embarrassed to be where people have suffered but this is by far the best way to help. As we say in India: Atithi Devo Bhava - Guest is God.

Please contact me at jasper.reid@immassociates.com or megan.reid@jamiesitalian.in if you need any more information. We would love to hear from you.


Louis Fung (1986): COVID-19 and Guangzhou, China

Portrait of Louis FungI have been staying in Guangzhou, a major city in Southern China, since the beginning of the year and have witnessed how the Chinese government responded to the COVID-19 and prevented it from spreading further.  I wish to commend the government for carrying out such effective procedures to control the spread of COVID-19. The confirmed number of cases, and fatalities in China as of today numbers roughly 91,000 and 4,800 respectively. In Guangdong province where I stayed and worked, there were around 1750 confirmed cases as of end August. In a province with a population of around 115 million, the infection rate is relatively low.
The situation in China has improved dramatically since the original outbreak of COVID-19. Most provinces in China have not reported many new domestic infections for many months. One reason being that the Chinese government introduced various effective measures to control the spread of the virus, namely, extending the Chinese new year holiday in February to avoid excessive movement across the country,  blocking all transportation from Wuhan for months, implementing school and office closures, travel restrictions and encouraging working from home. Furthermore, citizens are encouraged to wear masks in confined and crowded areas. During the period when face mask supply was tight, Guangzhou health organization introduced a program to distribute face masks via a mobile app, and used the app to capture heath conditions and monitor if people originated from an infected area. All measures helped to control the epidemic and ensure our safety.  
However, it is still not clear when the virus will be fully contained due to the risk of imported cases carried by travelers arriving into China and all the "invisible" virus carriers. Hence, a 14 day quarantine period for visitors was introduced to ensure imported cases can be identified.  The quarantine requirement has certainly affected the way we do business within and outside China. Instead of regular travelling and face to face meeting for business, virtual meetings have to be conducted to maintain relationships and close business deals. Furthermore, due to the border closure between Hong Kong and China, I cannot return home for a family visit in Hong Kong unless I endure a total of 28 days quarantine in an hotel, plus taking COVID-19 tests. Obviously, such a length of time is impracticable, especially with the current market situation, as the pandemic and resulting impact on our industry has been severe.  
I hope the virus will soon be in control and a vaccine will be available to enable the economy to grow again, so people can do business freely without any quarantine. I encourage the authorities to keep up the good work and help bring the virus in control.


Anthony Grenville (1962): Sebastian Flyte, meet Albert Einstein?

On reading the book review by David Dunmur in the last e-Matters, Anthony Grenville (1962) emailed reminding us of the article he had written for Christ Church Matters in Trinity 2004. I of course remembered it well, and on re-reading it thought it well worth another airing. Anthony has added a few extra lines.

THE POPULAR IMAGE of Christ Church in the interwar years is of Sebastian Flyte holding court in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, or of the Bollinger Club dinner at the start of Decline and Fall. But there was more to the House in the 1930s than effete and dimwitted aristocrats, for it was also keen to add to its scholarly lustre by taking on German-Jewish professors who had been removed from their posts by the Nazis.

Albert Einstein, 1879- 1955. Research Student, Christ Church, 1931-2. From a copy, in the Christ Church archive, of the David Low caricature drawn for the New Statesman.The first German-Jewish academic to take up a post at Christ Church, already before 1933, was Albert Einstein. Einstein first came to Oxford in 1931, through the initiative of Frederick Lindemann, Professor of Physics at Oxford, later Lord Cherwell, Churchill’s wartime scientific adviser. Einstein stayed in Oxford for three short periods between May 1931 and June 1933. He was accommodated at Christ Church, ‘the calm cloisters of which he relished as much as Oxford relished him’, according to a historian of science at Oxford.

The correspondence in Einstein’s file at Christ Church shows that relations between the scientist and the House were cordially warm. In June 1931 the Dean wrote to Einstein, offering him a research studentship at an annual salary of £400, ‘for something like a month during term time in the course of the year’. Einstein replied in July, expressing his unconcealed delight at the prospect of spending time in unfamiliar but highly congenial surroundings. On 23 October the Dean was able to inform Einstein that the Governing Body had elected him to a studentship and to express ‘our earnest hope that we may often have the pleasure and honour of seeing you in our Society’.

However, on 24 October the Dean received a letter from Professor J.G.C. Anderson, protesting vehemently against Einstein’s appointment; those who had framed the relevant statutes never intended emoluments to go to people of non-British nationality, Anderson argued, adding that it was wrong to ‘send money out of the country’ in the dire economic situation of the Depression, especially as the university was receiving a large grant from public funds. The Dean retorted that the academic benefit to the House far outweighed narrow nationalism: ‘I think that in electing Einstein we are securing for our Society perhaps the greatest authority in the world on physical science; his attainments and reputation are so high that they transcend national boundaries, and any university in the world ought to be proud of having him.’

Einstein, unaware that he had incurred the wrath of Little Englanders reluctant to burden the British taxpayer with foreign scientists, accepted the appointment on 29 October. But on 2 November Anderson fired off a further letter, covering over three tightly packed sides. The Dean circulated this missive to his colleagues, asking for comments. Only one response appears on file, evidently from the one ‘outsider’, a lecturer in chemistry, mentioned by Professor Anderson as having been appointed to a studentship. This simply reads ‘Is the Professor quite accurate in describing me as an English-speaking member?’, signed ‘A.S.R’. Alexander Stuart Russell had been appointed Dr. Lee’s Reader in Chemistry in 1919 and a Student of Christ Church in 1920. He had studied at Glasgow, and presumably spoke with a Scots accent to match. This ended the objections to Einstein; indeed, after such a withering put-down, it is hard to imagine what further xenophobic tirades from Anderson could have achieved.

After 1933 Einstein could not return to Christ Church, so he proposed that his stipend be used to fund posts for Jewish academics dismissed from German universities by the Nazis. In May 1934, Dean Williams was able to inform him that the House proposed to give a sorely needed £200 to the distinguished classical philologist Eduard Fraenkel, formerly of Freiburg University and now in Oxford. Two distinguished German-Jewish professors found refuge at Christ Church. Felix Jacoby, a specialist in Greek historiography and poetry, had been Professor of Classical Philology at Kiel University from 1907 until his dismissal in 1935. He emigrated to Britain in 1939, where he continued to work on his Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, publishing fifteen volumes of texts and commentary over the 35 years during which he pursued this magnum opus. One can imagine what it meant to Jacoby, stripped of his position and at the mercy of the Nazis, to receive a letter from Dean Williams in December 1938 inviting him in the warmest terms ‘to continue your important work on the fragments of the Greek historians as soon as possible here at Oxford’.

Paul Jacobsthal, who had been Professor of Archaeology at Marburg University from 1912 until his dismissal in 1935, was appointed to a post at Christ Church in 1937. An expert on Greek vase painting, his studies of the influence of Mediterranean civilisations on early North Alpine cultures led to his also becoming University Reader in Celtic Archaeology. On Jacobsthal’s death in 1957, Christopher Hawkes, Professor of European Archaeology, wrote to Dean Lowe: ‘Everyone at all connected with these studies must always owe a very great debt of gratitude to the House? All that great generosity has of course not only assured [Jacobsthal’s] residing and working here, but in so doing has also guaranteed that the prime opportunity for holding the central position in these studies shall lie with Oxford.’

Christ Church was also generous in offering places to refugee undergraduates who had come to Britain as children in the 1930s, for example the distinguished poet and translator Michael Hamburger. Another was Walter Eberstadt, who served with distinction in Normandy in 1944 and then, as a young bilingual officer with the British occupation forces, played a key role in setting up Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (North West German Broadcasting), the Hamburg-based radio station that was to serve as the model for West Germany’s public broadcasting system.

ANTHONY GRENVILLE (1962) With thanks for the expert assistance of archivist Judith Curthoys


Timothy Lupfer (1973): Leadership Tough Love

Book cover: Leadership Tough Love by Timothy LupferLeadership Tough Love: Examining Leaders through the lens of reality, is the latest book by Tim Lupfer (1973), a Rhodes Scholar who read Modern History at Christ Church having first been at West Point.

Given the title of the book it is perhaps not surprising to learn that Tim commanded a tank battalion as well as teaching at West Point. But he has also been a successful company executive and management consultant, retiring as Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting in 2011.

The book is a clear and concise appraisal of many modern ideas of leadership and where they often go wrong. It succeeds in laying out the character (“the most elusive element”), capabilities, and direction that a leader needs, and manages to strike the balance between theory and practice. The peppering of historical examples to illuminate his ideas throughout the book adds further interest and spice. “One of the most splendid epitaphs is that of Christopher Wren, … ‘If you seek his monument, look around.’ To paraphrase this for leaders: ‘If you seek an outstanding leader, look at the followers.’"

The discussion of the relationship between leadership and management is particularly revealing, and the overarching philosophy of the book may perhaps best be summed up by Tim’s observation on the best way of judging character: “When a choice arises between personal advantage and a core value, what choice do we make?” 

Click here to order Leadership Tough Love.


Nicci French: House of Correction

Portrait of Sean French and Nicci GerardSean French (1978) introduces his new book written together with his partner, Nicci Gerrard, under the name of Nicci French:

"I’ve been writing psychological thrillers with my partner, Nicci Gerrard, since the mid-1990s, under the name Nicci French. From 2011, we spent most of the decade writing a series about Frieda Klein, a psychoanalyst who becomes a kind of detective. But now we’re back writing stand-alone books. 

In some of our books, we like to set ourselves specific challenges. For our new book, House of Correction, we had the idea of a woman who has to solve a crime, the problem being that she is herself in prison, accused of that crime. The idea was that she would have to investigate the crime without being able to visit the crime scene, without being able to interview witnesses.

Book cover: House of Correction by Nicci FrenchIt’s one thing to have an idea, but then there was the question of where this story needs take place, who it needs to happen to. It’s only then that the story comes to life. The protagonist of the story, the victim and the detective and, as it turns out, the defence lawyer, is Tabitha Hardy, a woman of about thirty. She is accused of murdering a neighbour in the little village on the Devon coast where she lives. He is not just a neighbour but he was also her teacher at school. And he wasn’t just her teacher… Well, I shouldn’t give too much away.

We wanted to start with Tabitha at rock bottom and then make things worse for her. The village where she lives is remote, with only one road in. The body was found in the shed of her house and it seems impossible that anyone else could have committed the crime. She’s not even entirely sure herself that she didn’t do it. Worse, it emerges that she has lied to the police and even to her own lawyer about her relationship to the victim. She senses that nobody – least of all her own village neighbours – is on her side.

It’s a dark story about the horrors of prison life and of mental illness and the pain of being an outsider, while also being a sort of Agatha Christie locked room mystery – albeit a locked room mystery set in the open air on a cold winter day in north Devon."

House of Correction can be ordered here.


Tuppy Morrisey (2016): The Shadow of Your Wings

Tuppy Morrisey has recently set up a writing project "The Shadow of Your Wings" in support of The Salvation Army. 

Dear fellow House members,

Last week I started writing a novel in support of The Salvation Army, and I’d like your support. I’ll be publishing The Shadow of Your Wings in serial form, with the latest chapter going online every Friday on http://shadowofyourwings.co.uk/. To make things a little more interesting, I’m writing the book in real time, working to a weekly deadline: think of it as a writing marathon.

Shadow of Your WingsI decided to turn this project into a fundraising event after attending a talk at Christ Church last year about Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth. My initial target is to raise £1000 for the organisation, which has helped UK citizens from all backgrounds for over 150 years; I hope you can offer something to their cause.
As for the novel itself, The Shadow of Your Wings follows four Londoners who’ve recently graduated from university. It is a novel about music, faith, and life as a young adult. It features the East London Hemingway Appreciation Society, a psychedelic rock band called 38 Children Called Stone, and reflections on lifestyle apps, nuclear energy, the Virgin Mary, and Kanye West. If that brief description has managed to whet your appetite, you can read the first chapter here.
I hope you enjoy following my progress week by week, and I encourage you to lend a helping hand to the Salvation Army and all their beneficiaries. Click here to find out more about their work and visit my fundraising page.
Thank you!
Tuppy Morrissey


Other News


Stargazing with Professor Roger Davies

Valley networks, photographed in the 1970s by NASA’s Viking missions, first suggested that rivers once flowed on Mars.As we enter September the days are rapidly diminishing in length, and the Sun moves into the southern hemisphere as Summer gives way to Autumn. This month Mars will brighten and execute a switchback in the sky as it is approaches opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky). We’ll lose the double act of Jupiter and Saturn that have been with us in the southern skies all summer, and we will get a chance to spot the nearest giant galaxy, the most distant object visible with the naked eye.

Early in the month Mars rises just after sunset in the constellation of Pisces and will brighten through the month as it approaches opposition on October 13th. It has an unmistakeable orange-red hue. Mars is the most visited of the planets and already five space missions heading its way have been launched in 2020, two from the USA, two from China and one from the United Arab Emirates. Mars is much smaller than the Earth, just a little over a tenth of Earth’s mass, and has lost almost all of its atmosphere. Mars’ surface is continually bombarded by radiation and the little water remaining is frozen below the surface. Since the Viking missions of the 1970s we’ve been aware that, in the distant past, flowing liquid carved river systems into the Martian terrain. Over the past year, by putting together images and high precision radars from orbiters, with the results from rovers such as NASA’s Curiosity, we’ve deduced that it was water that created those river systems around 3.5 billion years ago. As we believe that liquid water is essential for life, is it possible that simple life forms evolved at that time that might still exist below the Martian surface today?

Perseverance, one of NASA’s missions, will provide our first chance of a definitive answer. It will collect and seal rock samples in titanium tubes that a future ESA rover will collect and return to Earth in 2028. In the meantime ESA’s Rosalind Franklin mission (scheduled launch 2023) will drill 2m down below the surface to reach material that has not been damaged by the radiation that impacts directly on Mars’ surface. The in situ analysis of these deep samples could reveal the presence of organic molecules that may provide evidence of past life. 

the position of Mars from May 2020 to March 2021 illustrating the retrograde motion from mid-September mid-through November. Image courtesy of http://www.nakedeyeplanets.comWatching Mars through the next few weeks you see for yourself one of the puzzles that perplexed ancient astronomers. Mars normally moves eastward with respect to the `fixed stars’ but this month it starts a switchback. On September 9th, Mars changes direction and moves westward until 16th November when it reverses again and resumes its eastward motion (see figure).

The retrograde motion of Mars is an illusion created by the greater orbital speed of Earth that causes Mars to appear to move backwards when it is close to opposition. Credit: Sky at Night Magazine, Pete LawrenceThe puzzle the classical astronomers faced was how to arrange this in a geocentric model of the Solar System? The solution recorded in Ptolemy’s Almagest, published in the second century AD, was to have Mars move on a small circle, an epicycle, while the centre of the epicyclic circle orbited Earth on a large circle. This was just one example, albeit the most famous, of the unnecessary complexity added to `save the hypothesis’ of the geocentric Solar System. All these complications were swept away in 1453 when Nicolaus Copernicus proposed the heliocentric model where all the planets orbit the Sun with the innermost moving quickest. In this way the retrograde motion of Mars can be explained as the Earth overtakes Mars when close to opposition.

Early risers can see Venus before sunrise, it will be significantly brighter than Mars. In a dramatic juxtaposition on 14th September the waning crescent Moon is in conjunction with Venus - they are about 4°apart in the constellation of Cancer.

To help you find your way around the sky a good interactive sky map can be found here. 

The Andromeda nebula is between Andromeda and Cassiopeia. It is best found by starting from the corner of the square of Pegasus and moving along two stars into Andromeda.While you are out spotting Mars, you can try to find the nearest giant galaxy to us, the spiral nebula in Andromeda, which is similar in size and mass to our own Milky Way. At a distance of two million light years is the most distant object you can see with the unaided eye. The chart shows you where to look, it is a faint fuzzy patch, not at all easy to see.

To see it you need to be in a dark location away from street lights, only try on the nights around New Moon (Sept 17th and October 17th), and get fully dark adapted, so be outside in the dark for at least 15 minutes.

The Andromeda nebula is the nearest giant spiral galaxy. Credit ESA/Hubble images: Tony and Daphne Hallas.The final trick is to use `averted vision’, don’t look directly in the direction of the object but a little way away so that the image falls on the periphery of your retina where there are more `rods’ that are sensitive to low light levels. If you do see it, reflect that the photons that hit your retina set off two million years ago, well before there was any human life on Earth!





Women's 40th Online Celebration

Logo for 40 years of Women at the HouseA reminder of our online initiatives to celebrate 40 years of women at the House:


Alumnae Poetry Competition: 
The competition is now closed. Thank you all for your entries!

The judges’ decisions will be published in the next e-Matters in late September. The Women's 40th Anniversary event has been postponed until September 2021.

There will be a first prize of a two night stay for two in the best guest room in Christ Church, including full board and lodging.


Lodge Manager Mandy Roche modelling one of the 40th Anniversary silk scarf40th Anniversary Silk Scarves

A reminder that our limited-edition 40th Anniversary silk scarf can be ordered through the new online shop. To visit the shop please click here. 


Poem for the Fortnight


By Polly Halladay (2016)

patter patter

Not the slate-tapped toe
of the trail no, not a trail at all but a stairway
scarred instead, so quaint, so walkable,
we run them – off the edge but stop
before the off follows fall.

Rail-hung, I want nothing but to turn,
ascend it web-strung, so fleeting then,
my eight legs curled into none.

The necessary scale reopens; though the land
may forgive our footfall, bleeding passage,
we force when we needn’t to.

A selection of alumni poetry is available on our website.

All members of the House are welcome to submit poetry. If you would like your poetry considered for feedback from the judges of our poetry competition, then please send your poems to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk A poem will be selected every fortnight from St Frideswide's Well and the poet will receive feedback via email. Poems will also be featured on our website.


Poetry Prompt

Alumni poetry promptThe judges of our poetry competition are providing fortnightly poetry prompts to pique your thoughts. 
The House is eager to see the results. Please send poems for possible inclusion in e-Matters to development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk.

This week's prompt:


Alumni Photography

We encourage all alumni and friends to submit photographs to us inspired by the poems featured on our Alumni Poetry Page. Poems and photographs will be collected together in the coming months and will eventually form an online exhibition celebrating alumni creative work. 

To submit your photograph please: