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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas address

My speech to this year's Christmas dinner at Connaught Hall

Photos from the evening are available at

I hope you are all having a good time. I think this has been a great end to a very enjoyable first term. And it’s not even over yet – we’ve got live music in a few minutes, then Christmas pudding, carol singing after dinner, and our Christmas masquerade ball at 8 o’clock till 1.

I said in my speech to the welcome buffet this year that I hoped you would all quickly settle into the Hall and make it your home; I am delighted to see that you are doing just that: there is a real sense of community at Connaught Hall this year, and I know many of you have made friendships here already that will endure long beyond your time at University.

I hope events like the welcome buffet, like this dinner, the Christmas tree dressing last week, and our night out on Foundation Day help you to meet people you otherwise would never get to know and reinforce your sense that this place is your home and our community is your family here in London.

Still reflecting back to my welcome speech: I tried to play down my role in enforcing discipline here because I hoped you would all get on with each other and pretty much stay within the rules. So I’m very pleased to say that by-and-large I think you’re possibly the friendliest, most mature – and frankly, the one of the best – year of residents I can remember.

The Residents' Club Committee this year have been doing a good job of balancing events and activities with the need for financial restraint this year. And I think after
tonight’s masquerade ball you will agree they have worked extremely hard to organise a fantastic party for you. We had a few weeks without a Sports Officer, but as you should have seen, Amin was unopposed in the by-election last week; so we now have a Sports Officer and you should start to see some more sports events
being organised.

The Committee have had the disadvantage of not being able to hold late parties for most of this term because of licensing issues following our welcome party. But I think we have got over these issues, with a few tweaks to how we organise our parties, and I hope tonight’s ball will be a fresh start and the first of several successful parties for this Committee.

As always, get in touch if you have any suggestions for me and my team, the Bursar’s Office, or the Residents’ Club. We can only make things better with your help; if you tell us what you want; and report things if they’re not working as they should.

Now, the kitchen staff have been working all day to prepare this super meal for us, so I think we should say thank you for all their hard work.

The other people we have to thank are all the residents who helped set up the dining hall today – I think it looks amazing, thank you!

And finally, our musicians.

Don't forget to have your photo taken beside the tree and stay for carols after pudding. Then put a mask on and enjoy the party in the bar.

I am going to hand over to our in just a few seconds: Polly & Sam, Alex, and Kate & Elliott.

If you are travelling during the holidays, I wish you a safe journey and look forward to seeing you back relaxed and refreshed next year.

And I wish all of you a wonderful, joyful Christmas, and a happy, successful new year.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

New Sports Officer

Amin Yazdi was unopposed as a candidate in the Sports Officer by-election. He has therefore been returned as the new Sports Officer on the Residents' Club Committee.

Christmas tree decorating

Thank you to everyone who helped decorate the Hall Christmas trees last night. I hope you enjoyed the mulled wine and mince pies - and maybe even the music!

The trees look great and I was impressed with how many turned out to help. I enjoyed the evening and I hope you all did too.

A couple of people asked me what some of the music was, so the playlist from my iPod is reproduced here:

I'll Be Home For Christmas - Al Green

Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid

Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Bing Crosby

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms

Little Drummer Boy - Boney M

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Boney M

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - The Cadillacs

Last Christmas - Cascada

A spaceman came travelling - Chris De burgh

A Spaceman Came Travelling - Chris De Burgh

The Christmas Song - Christina Aguilera

The Christmas Song (Holiday Remix) - Christina Aguilera

All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey

Mistletoe And Wine - Cliff Richard

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Crystals

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love

A Winter's Tale - David Essex

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin

Step Into Christmas - Elton John

Winter Wonderland - Elvis Presley

Jingle Bell Rock - Girls Aloud

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year - Glee Cast

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast

O Christmas Tree - Glee Cast

Angels We Have Heard On High - Glee Cast

O Holy Night - Glee Cast

Deck The Halls - Gospel Enlightenment

We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Gospel Enlightenment

I Believe In Father Christmas - Greg Lake

We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Hallé Orchestra/Maurice Handford

Sleigh Ride - Hayley Westenra

Frosty The Snowman - The Jackson 5

So This Is Christmas - John Lennon & Yoko Ono

When A Child Is Born - Johnny Mathis

Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie

Fairytale of New York - Kirsty MacColl/The Pogues

Mr. Christmas - Kristine W

Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga

O Christmas Tree - Londonderry Boys Choir

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Mariah Carey

O Holy Night - Mariah Carey

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Mariah Carey

Joy To The World - Mariah Carey

Lonely This Christmas - Mud

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney

Frosty The Snowman - The Ronettes

Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes

Jingle Bells - Rosemary Clooney

Little Drummer Boy - Sir Terry Wogan & Aled Jones

Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Christmas Wrapping - Spice Girls

I Believe In Father Christmas - State of the Heart

Last Christmas - Wham!

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizard

Winter Wonderland - Aretha Franklin

Temporary Event Notice for Christmas masquerade ball Friday 10th December

There will be some restrictions on guests, music policy, sound levels, and alcohol during our Christmas masquerade ball on Friday. The following letter that I wrote to the Licensing Authority when applying for Friday's temporary event notice explains the changes that you will see.

Addressing difficulties arising at our temporary event on 9 October 2010

At our last temporary event at Connaught Hall, a welcome party on 9-10 October 2010, five non-resident, signed-in guests were responsible for minor assaults on two of our residents. The guests were removed from the premises with no difficulty, but then gathered outside the Hall on Tavistock Square and refused to disperse and go home. I called the police as I was concerned these guests posed a threat of causing disorder.

In the 13 years I have been at Connaught Hall, there have been no previous similar incidents. We have held at least five temporary events every academic year since The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect and several late parties per year under the old magistrates system.

The guests who caused problems have been permanently banned from Connaught Hall; where appropriate, their colleges or student unions have been informed. The residents who signed in those guests have been subject to internal disciplinary proceedings.

I am confident that we can make our parties safer whilst remaining every bit as enjoyable for the majority who I know had a great time and weren't involved in any trouble at all.

From now on, residents may only sign in two guests each during a temporary event. A special sign-in book and more personnel at reception will help monitor this. Residents will be required to show Hall ID when entering the building and guests will be issued with wrist bands.

There will be some changes to the music policy - moving away from any drum & bass towards more disco / pop / uplifting dance music and a clear 30-minute wind-down period with slower music at the end of the event.

Our Christmas party will follow on from a formal Christmas dinner; both events will have a smart dress code with optional (but encouraged) black tie.

Licensed hours will be shorter than at recent Connaught Hall events and there will be a champagne & (long) cocktails theme. We will not run any reduced price drinks promotions.

I hope these measures will prevent any difficulties arising at this or future temporary events at Connaught Hall.

Christmas dinner: Friday 10th December

Connaught Hall's Christmas dinner is at 6.00pm on Friday 10th December.

Follow the link to see the menu and programme of entertainment.

I've also uploaded some photos of past Christmas dinners at Connaught Hall.

I do hope everyone will make the effort to get dressed up: it makes the evening that bit more special!

The current financial climate has made it quite a challenge to get funding and approval for the food, wine, decorations, and table service this year. The package we have agreed will, I hope, match any previous year’s Christmas dinner, but we are not allowed to pay for any extra staff hours in the kitchen – so unlike before, they will not be able to set up and clear away in the dining hall.

So we need a lot of help from residents this year!

Let’s show that we can come together and pull off another brilliant Christmas dinner even with the reduced resources available to us. The Christmas dinner & ball is traditionally the highlight of the social calendar in our Hall, and I really want this year to be the best yet. We can only do it with your help.

Below is the plan for setting up on Friday. If you think you can help with any of these activities, please come and join us in the dining hall.

10.00 Table & chair arranging

11.00 Table cloths on tables & table confetti

12.00 Plates & cutlery to tables

13.30 Glasses to tables

14.00 Candles to tables

14.20 Decorations around dining hall

15.30 Set up music system

17.00 Starters put out on tables

17.40 Staff, committee, musicians meet in dining hall

17.45 Candles lit


18.05 Wine taken to tables

18.10 Recorded music replaces live music


18.20 Photographs taken at each table

18.45 SPEECH


19.00 Recorded music


19.15 Residents clear tables of plates & cutlery


19.20 Photographs by the tree

19.30 Wine glasses cleared away

* 19.40 Set up guest signing‐in table at reception

19.40 Candles cleared away

20.00 Rubbish in bin

* 20.00 Guest checks & wrist bands