Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Two Trinities, and a note on Jesus

Carmarthen, Dublin, Hartford, London, Melbourne, Toronto and many other towns and cities have a Trinity College, with varying degrees of distinction. Most people would agree on which are the two most highly distinguished and prestigious, but there is no such consensus about which of the two has the edge. Cambridge’s (Henry VIII, 1546) is larger and older than Oxford’s (Thomas Pope, 1555), though neither of these attributes necessarily confers distinction or prestige; antiquity certainly doesn’t—think of professions.

Since neither I nor any member of my family went to either, there is no reason why anyone would ask for my view, but if someone did I think I would choose Trinity College Cambridge, if only because of Crème Brûlée.

This is the French term for a rich baked custard made with cream (their language is utterly useless for naming food—there is no French word for custard, imagine!). In English, the dish is called Burnt Cream.

It is also sometimes known as Trinity Cream because at Trinity Cambridge they used to impress the college crest on top of the cream with a branding iron. I call that stylish.

In the case of the two top Jesuses it also looks as if Cambridge has it. Their Jesus is not only the older (the Bishop of Ely, 1496; Oxford, Elizabeth, 1571), but has a splendidly resounding full name: "The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge".

However, your typical Oxford Jesusman is totally unimpressed by this. Asked whether he went to Jesus, Oxford or Jesus, Cambridge, he would almost certainly reply: “Jesus”.


eric said...

Given that the proper name of the Cambridge college mentions 2 virgins (but, curiously, no Jesus), I have to wonder why it isn't called "Virgin College". Perhaps the Bishop of Ely was worried that people might mistakenly believe his college was really founded by Richard Branson.

Tony said...

Yes indeed. Thank you, Eric (or may I call you eric?).