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Oct 13 / Zack

A Formal Evening

This past Saturday marked the first MCR (grad student) Formal Dinner. Formal dress was required, as was a good attitude and a bottle of wine purchased at the College Bar.

I went with a five pound Sauvignon Blanc called Poco Mas. It was a “little more” expensive than the rest, hence the name.

The MCR Formals mark a real step up from the general formal dinners because there is some high quality alcohol casually provided. The evening starts with Sherry or Champagne in a reception room. Then, at the banging of a gong, you file into the dining hall and get going on the wine. Friendly service staff then wheels through the hall bearing appetizers (a beet risotto) main courses (pheasant?????!) and desserts (a blackberry mess, see above). All the while, you are meant to be highly socialable. Or, as I like to call it, keeping your open hand in front of you, with a big smile. “Hi, I’m Zack.”

I met two engineers and two vets. Somewhat unsurprisingly, these men were not the most remarkable and compelling conversationalists. I compared the vets to All Creatures Great and Small however, and they seemed to like that.

The evening caps off with some college port. I mean quite literally port that the college “makes” for just these occasions. I think you also could get coffee if you were paying attention, but given the drinking thats already gone down, that’s a hard thing to manage.

Decked out in slick suits and gowns, the Formal ends when the head server snuffs out the candles and tells you quite strongly to leave. Which we do, eventually, but retiring down to the college bar to (insanely) keep drinking. It will later become clear to several members of the dinner/dinner party/dinner party-in-exile-at-the-bar, that this will be the last thing they remember from the rest of the evening.

In their memory, or lack thereof, I now conclude this narrative recollection.


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  1. auntie joyce / Oct 13 2010

    I read the first sentence of this out loud to your uncle and he said, “There should be sherry!” “Wait!” I said, “It’s coming in the second sentence!”

    We do hope, however, that you are doing SOMEthing besides drinking in Cambridge. There are classes, right?

    • Zack / Oct 14 2010

      There are classes. But I am just learning of them now. Major reflections on the “self-catering” style of education in the UK to come!

      For the meantime, I prefer the Sherry to the Port!

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