Thursday, 4 December 2008
Another early start today - on 0719 train to London for UCISA meeting. Normally that's OK, but last night I was at a special party, so my head is feeling a bit sore!
We were celebrating the 25th birthday of the Octagon Centre, a multipurpose venue at the heart of the campus. I remember it being built, and during its construction it was always called the Clarkson Street building (because it was being built on the Clarkson Street car park), but before its opening there was a competition to give it a proper name and the Octagon Centre it became. Named after the largest space in the building, Convocation Hall, which is 8 sided! It was funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC), which no longer exists, with some additional funding from the University and the Student Union. It has unusual management arrangements, as for part of the week during semesters the Student Union have sole use of it, the rest of the time it available for University and outside use and under the management of the Octagon Centre manager and his team who are part of our department. Indeed, the management arrangements were seen to be so complicated, that back in 1983 when it opened, it had its own committee - the Octagon Centre Management Committee, and a certain newly appointed junior administrator, one Dr Sexton, was the secretary to it. Those were the days, when every possible function in the University was overseen by a group of august academics, who would make such important decisions as how the bar profits would be split between the Union and the University and who would be responsible for cleaning the venue after a Union disco!
The Octagon has seen many famous names on its stage, and can be adapted for many different uses. Currently it's used for lectures, exams and the Graduation Ceremonies, as well as concerts and celebrations. Last night it was beautifully decorated for the Snowflake Ball (I have some pictures but they're on my iPhone and I've no way of getting them off until later). It was a great night with an added bonus of raising funds for the Cavendish Cancer Care centre. I will be reminded of it all day, as during the evening as part of the fundraising events, I had to burst a balloon with a pin, whcih I did very close to my face, not realising it was full of glitter, which I was liberally coated with. Despite a shower, I still have gold glittery bits everywhere!
Edit - some pictures now added - not brilliant quality because they were taken with my phone.