I've had a busy but hugely enjoyable few days with a number of highlights, including a quite unforgettable evening on Sunday when Dame Helen Ghosh, the Master of Balliol, hosted a celebration of Team Balliol becoming series champions in Christmas University Challenge. It really was special.
One of the quirks of the TV series is that there is no trophy for the winners - causing Jeremy Paxman to tell us we could however be unbearably smug 'until Twelfth Night' (although we noted that he didn't say in which year...) So the college supplied the deficiency, presenting each of us with commemorative mugs with a photo of the team, college crest, and appropriate legend. A fun souvenir of a great experience as well as of a marvellous evening back at Balliol.
It was great to see my lovely team-mates again - they are to be the dedicatees of Sepulchre Street, a small gesture of appreciation for their companionship and brilliance. The presentation was followed by a Fellows' Dinner. In accordance with a tradition going back to the days of the legendary Victorian Master of Balliol Benjamin Jowett, the Master and guests are greeted by a banging of spoons from the assembled diners - another experience that will stay in my mind! The dinner was followed by a concert by Simon Callaghan, a brilliant pianist.
After that, it was drinks in the Senior Common Room. Andrew, Martin and I kept going until 2 am - in truth, it was one of those nights we didn't want to end. The whole occasion had a lovely, almost surreal feel to it as I cast my mind back to my first visit to the college as a very, very nervous interviewee aged eighteen. It's hard to believe what has happened in the intervening years. Not even I would have dared to make it up...