Some came to show the old school tie, to prove they were still members of the elite Oxford-Cambridge old boys club. But most came "to pick at a scar," said a member of the organizing committee of the 32nd annual Oxford-Cambridge dinner last night at the International Club -- a member who prefers to go unnamed.
They didn't all come to talk about the good old days at the university, because some of them, especially the foreigners, weren't that happy. They came instead, over 300 of them, to talk about how they managed to survive and grow up to be successful. They ran their fingers over the old scars to see how it felt, and it felt not bed, but different.
Because it is different when the opening grace, given last night by The Rev. Harold T. Lewis, is in Latin and most of the guests understand what he's saying.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart introduced Sir Nicholas Henderson, Britain's ambassador to the U.S. with a slightly lewd joke. Henderson (Hertford, Oxford) retaliated by picking on "lesser Cambridge graduates like Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
To be a good sport Henderson ended his speech by offering a toast to both colleges and introduced Dr. Anthony J. P. Kenny, Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Kenny as the leg man was in a bad spot of having to talk about the vulgar subject of money. In the past five years the tuition at Oxford and Cambridge for foreigners (English students paid by Her Majesty's Government) has multiplied more than six times, bringing the fee for this school tie higher than that of Princeton, Harvard or Yale.
The Americans, who outnumbered the English, were bored by money. They were more interested in using their rusty British, and talking about how last year's dinner was better and staring at the 25 who were caught without a table. One of those left out was former British ambassador Peter Jay.
Jay's group was finally seated during the fresh pineapple while Margaret, his wife, had already been given a place of honor at the head table.