Relaxation & Local Customs

Picture from Tyndale House

Coffee and Tea are served in the Lounge every weekday at 11 am and 4 pm. This is a good time to meet people.

The Lounge is available at most times for chatting. Talking is prohibited in the library, and even whispering becomes irritating. Please go to the Lounge instead. The Lounge has a dining area with a fridge and microwave. Please do not eat or drink in the library.

A Chapel service occurs every Tuesday in term time at 10.30 am followed by coffee.

A Croquet set is available for use on the croquet lawn.

Diary of a Sabbatical - a picture-filled blog including exciting scholarly discoveries, amusing insights into strange British habits, historic tours, personal disaster, famous people, new friends and intelligent chit chat. Like many blogs, it reads best backwards, ie from the top.

An introduction to local culture & customs:

Britain has more than its fair share of eccentrics, and Cambridge University appears to attract them. On one of my first visits to Cambridge I saw a man going down the street reading a full-size broadsheet newspaper the type that opens out to four foot wide (and he it had it fully open). He wasn't walking blindly; he was cycling, sitting straight up, both hands occupied holding the paper open. He caught my attention, partly because in a short distance the quiet road he was on (Sidgewick Avenue) was going to meet a relatively busy one (Grange Road). As I watched he unperturbedly peered round the edge of his newspaper, saw the junction coming, closed the paper, folded it under one arm, applied a brake and disappeared around the corner.

As a further flavour of Cambridge, here are a couple of educational emails which have been circulated by Tyndale staff to warn unsuspecting visitors about the subtleties of good manners in the "Old Country".

Those born in Britain before 1930 may have difficulty interpreting the In/Out board which is on the wall outside the Library.

In the glorious past, when you called on someone, their door would be answered by a butler.  The butler might say "I am sorry sir, but the master says he is not in". Even if the person you wish to see is standing right behind the butler, there is no lack of truth in the butler's statement. In quaint English usage, the phrase "not in" means "not receiving visitors".

The In/Out board is one of those annoying modern intrusions which are designed to save lives rather than serve etiquette. If there is a fire, the In/Out board will be used by firefighters to decide whether it is worth risking their lives to go and find you.

The In/Out board is also used by those who are looking for someone, perhaps because there is a phone call for them. If you are marked "out", no-one will waste their time looking round the building for you.

So, when you enter Tyndale House, please sign yourself "In" and when you leave the building sign yourself "Out". Anyone who does not have their name on this board should sign In and Out in the visitors' book.

Of course, if you hear that your supervisor is waiting in the lounge to collect your unfinished work, you may revert to the older British etiquette and send your butler with an apology that you are "not in".

Three things a visitor to Cambridge will never be told (but should know):

1) Do not address the Master of a Cambridge College by his Christian name, unless you are giving him a very substantial cheque.
2) Do not ask a Porter to carry your luggage. You may not know at first how important and influential they are, but they already know.
3) Do not walk on the Sacred Spaces unless you are accompanying a Fellow.

The final instruction needs a little explanation.
First, a Fellow can be a woman. This innovation would be completely incomprehensible to the founders who invented the term "Fellows".
Second, the Sacred Space of a college is not in the Chapel. It is one or more areas of grass, usually inside the college courtyard.

Tyndale House is similar to a Cambridge college in several respects. We do not have a Master, nor Porters, but we do have a Sacred Space. It is called the Croquet Lawn. This particular Sacred Space has certain taboos attached to it which, in typical English fashion, are never written down. (Rules in England are never written because a Gentleman knows such things instinctively, due to his breeding, and if the rules were written down, then anyone could pretend to be a Gentleman.)

Unwritten rules concerning Croquet:
1) Croquet is an extremely aggressive game, so an Englishman expresses no outward emotion while playing it.
2) Croquet mallets are uniquely designed for smashing open one's opponent's skull. It is therefore impolite to raise them above ankle height. Pretend, instead, that the ball is your opponent's skull. This will improve your aim and your appreciation of the whole ethos of the game.
3) Croquet lawns, like all Cambridge Sacred Spaces, should be walked on only in flat shoes (this is the main reason that Cambridge colleges are suspicious of women Fellows).
4) Outward signs of respect to the Croquet lawn are appreciated, such as occasionally kissing the grass or a short silent prayer before stepping on it.