Clarence gets a visit from Professor At’em-Bro

It has been another action packed half term in Clarence. Miss Hamilton has joined Clarence as our Deputy Housemistress and has been a great support to the House and the girls. We have seen dance shows, music concerts, sporting events and amongst all of that Clarence has gone into revision mode in the lead up to Mocks which take place after Long Leave. I wish the girls the best of luck with mocks and hope that they manage to have an enjoyable Long Leave. I leave you with an insight into life in Clarence from Dr Goward. Enjoy!

This half-term in Clarence, we were gratuitously honoured and excited to receive a visit from the eminent naturalist, anthropologist and broadcaster, Professor Wayward At’em-Bro (DPhil, OxBow), filming for the latest drivelling instalment of his award-avoiding series, Beige Planet. Having spent his extinguished career fumbling amongst the mountain gorilla colonies of Rwanda and being chased by lions across the Serengeti, Professor At’em-Bro is no stranger to danger. However, little could have prepared him for the challenge he was about to face, living for a day amongst the strange and sometimes ferocious UVI, as his utterly fictional account below, reveals.


Dawn. The house lies in darkness still, with just the first rays of the winter sun beginning to rise beyond Beaconsfield, as it starts its day-long journey across the Thames Valley. Here and there, patches of frost adorn the rooftops and deer timidly nibble the shoots of grass along the path to Daws Hill. Inside, not a creature stirs. This is the abode of the elusive UVI (Clarencia Intimidata). Our camera team has been warned not to approach too closely, as this is when they at their most dangerous and unpredictable. So we wait and watch for the first signs of life. The winter has been a tough challenge for them, competing with rival tribes for precious university places, sometimes even crossing oceans to obtain rare morsels of Ivy. Soon, the long trek towards terminal examinations will begin, a gruelling path that will lead, eventually, towards the summer, and exodus.

But wait…something moves inside the house. Gradually, humanoid shapes begin to emerge, shuffling aimlessly to and from the kitchens. Our team moves in to get a closer look, only too aware that one false move could trigger a critical situation. Through a kitchen window in New Clarence, one creature can be seen in a state of confusion, desperately attempting for several minutes to get the toaster to work, before realising it wasn’t switched on at the plug. Elsewhere, we see more beginning to appear. Shrouded in dressing gowns, mumbling incoherently to each other about late prep and all-nighters, they stagger towards a productive day, amongst the grasslands of knowledge in T Block and the Abbey.

The migration from house to lessons is fraught with difficulty. Strangely repulsed by normal routines of registration, they will do all in their power to spend just five more minutes slumped over a bowl of Frosties. Despite being the closest house geographically to the centre of the school, some completely lose their sense of direction on the way to Chapel, ending up stranded in The Courtyard, possessively clutching a Stanley of chai latte. Others will attempt to make the difficult journey across, literally, fifty metres of grass, wearing nothing but slippers on their feet, pyjama bottoms masquerading as trousers, and a Radley hoodie: such is their desperation to avoid actually getting dressed. But as they attempt to make the perilous crossing, they must evade the circling predators, (Sparkatus Bex and Missus Wagamama) who send them fleeing back to house to put some proper clothes on.

As lessons begin, so the house falls silent, with just a handful of brave, dedicated souls (Equipus Domesticus) prepared to bring order to the chaos that has been left behind by the migrating hordes. No footage is available from this period of the day, as our camera team was warned that the scenes inside the empty house were too disturbing to be broadcast. Occasionally, a stray pupil will drift back to her dorm, becoming inexplicably detached from her scheduled lesson. It will not be until sunset that the rest of the tribe returns.

Eventually, as the gloom of evening approaches and night draws in, the house becomes populated once more. Now the behaviour of this largely nocturnal species becomes more frivolous and erratic. Strange shrieks and howls of laughter ring out from the dorms and kitchens, along with guttural, Anglo-Saxon terms that we cannot broadcast before the watershed. Small groups gather around the cooker, concocting peculiar meals. Laptops are strewn across the kitchen tables, displaying a mixture of NEA drafts and Tik Tok videos. In the dorms of the Further Mathematicians, we find frozen figures lost in complex equations, transfixed by dusty piles of STEP papers. Valiantly, the Clarence park rangers patrol the corridors, trying to entice unwary stragglers into CCR for movie and tapas nights, but to limited avail. This is a wild land, full of lurking menace, so frightening that even the Gaelic-dancing males of Eton and Harrow were too meek to venture into their territory this season.

As night deepens, we leave behind the mysterious world of Clarence and withdraw towards the relative safety of the Travelodge in High Wycombe. Younger challengers are already circling, making their way back to Senior Houses in the ubiquitous garb of North Face jackets and Daunt Books bags. One day, it will be their turn to don the dressing gown and slippers of the ‘Alphas’, when this year’s Clarence have migrated to the lush, green pastures of Freshers’ Week, ‘Greek life’ and the JCR. Loading our equipment into the back of a Range Rover (the only vehicle that can cope with this terrain), we prepare to depart. The fluorescent lights of Wycombe glow orange as we drive off the reservation. Crossing the River Wye, the tranquil waterway leading to the ends of the Earth flows sombre under an overcast sky and seems to lead into the heart of an immense Buckinghamshire darkness.


We are ludicrously grateful to Professor At’em-Bro for giving up some of his copious amounts of free time to conduct this anthropological investigation in Clarence and we wish him all the best with his new project, a self-published autobiography of his early life: Winging It – How I Pretended to be an Ornithologist.