Tag Archives: Cambridge

Preparing for the cybercrime of the future

My friend Frank helped organise what looked like a great event at the Computer Lab recently – called Cambridge2Cambridge, it’s a joint initiative between us and MIT, and they’ve done a splendid video about it.

More information here.

The Morning Bathe

The morning bathe

Universally Challenged?

Christmas-University-Challenge-Series-3-Gonville-&-Caius-1600“Television”, said Noel Coward, “is not something one watches. It’s something one appears on.” But it’s quite strange to have done both, having watched myself on University Challenge just now. (See my earlier post.) I’ve been on TV and radio a few times, but they’ve generally been broadcast live, or in other regions, so I’ve seldom had the chance to see myself at the same time as others do. A most bizarre experience.

Anyway, those who are curious (and in the UK) can see the show here for the next few days. I won’t spoil the suspense, except to say that we didn’t disgrace ourselves. My contribution was rather larger, I hope, than the cameras suggest, but still small. I was, however, blessed with excellent team-mates, and it was all great fun.

A couple of things that might interest regular viewers, that hadn’t previously occurred to me, especially about the starter questions…

The first is that the programme flatters the home viewer. When watching starter questions in the past, I’ve been smugly pleased if I can yell out the answer before the person on screen. But the contestant has had to think of the answer many seconds earlier, press their buzzer, wait for their name to be announced, and then respond. In fact, when you’re on the set, it takes a bit of time to realise that it’s your turn, because you get no feedback on the desk to indicate that you have buzzed first until Roger announces your name. This all takes some time, especially on the (very rare) occasions when he has to say “Gonville & Caius: Stafford-Fraser”! At that point, you have to form some coherent words and speak them out confidently.

The second is that the programme is edited, though very lightly. They try to do it ‘as live’, not least for the benefit of the audience. But there are occasions when contestants responded either a bit faster or a bit slower during the filming than was apparent in the broadcast. Then there are sometimes one or two retakes for technical reasons at the end, so you can be in the unenviable position of having to repeat, earnestly, an answer which you know by then to be false… In general, though, the broadcast is a pretty accurate representation of what it felt like at the time.

Lastly, of course, there are often more people who know the answer than get credit for it, because you usually can’t tell on screen who else is buzzing. I know there were several times where more than one of the Cambridge team, and no doubt several Oxonians too, were pressing their buzzers almost simultaneously, but only one light comes on. Fortunately, Lars Tharp and Mark Damazer were particularly speedy, and they, of course, came from The Right Place.

Anyway, lots of fun, and anyone who’d like to watch any further rounds can find the broadcast times here.

Update: It turns out that at least two of the episodes are available on YouTube, so anyone really keen can see our entry in the first round and the final.

Sarah & Hubertus

About three weeks ago, my very good friends Sarah and Hubertus got married in Queens’ College here in Cambridge. They were good enough, and foolhardy enough, to ask me to take the photos.


It was a wonderful occasion – great people, lovely weather, delicious food, and a really excellent ceilidh band in the evening.


Being ‘the photographer’ was a great learning experience for me, and gave me a huge respect for the professionals who do this on a regular basis.

In particular, at this (otherwise wonderful) venue, every single room had challenges from a lighting point of view. One was very dark, one had a low white ceiling, and one was lined with glass-fronted bookcases, which made it a real challenge to position the flashguns! But things mostly worked out in the end.


Even the outdoor shots had to be carefully managed so people weren’t squinting into the bright sunshine, and despite visiting beforehand and working out where the sun would be at about the time the ceremony was finished, I didn’t quite get it right. The bride and groom may hope for glorious sunshine on their wedding day, but, trust me, the photographer doesn’t!

Still, everyone was very tolerant of the inexpert photographer, and, above all, we all came away with happy memories of a very cheery occasion.


More photos from the wedding can be found here.

Ding, dong, the bells are going to chime

Bill Thompson and Katie Thornburrow got married today. A most enjoyable event with, as those who know them will be unsurprised to hear, some unconventional twists. It was, for example, the first wedding I’ve been to which included a special screening of a Buster Keaton silent movie in the local cinema, accompanied by a quite brilliant live pianist.

John, Rory and I, of course, ran around snapping away, but I thought it was only appropriate to post a slightly unconventional wedding photo, so here’s Rory C-J capturing the happy couple in King’s Parade:


More pictures here.

Don’t park your bike or chariot here

Spotted this wonderfully-Cambridge sign yesterday:

I’ve never studied Latin, but I think I can make out enough; it says something like ‘Two wheels, that have been left here, will be destroyed’.

Can anyone translate the Greek? I presume it says much the same.

Actually, the first dictionary I looked at listed perimo as ‘to slay, destroy‘, and I rather like the idea that Cambridge streets are kept in order by The Slayer of Bicycles…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser