A Skype conversation between my eldest daughter and I:

Her: I got my targets to assassinate; one is in my anthrop class.

Me: yes?

Her: So I have made a dagger and will take him out today

Me: what do you mean targets to assassinate (I am still assimilating the first bit, I haven’t taken cognisance of the homemade dagger and impending homicide yet)

Her : I joined the assassins guild, where you get given three targets and have to kill them

Me: (this is quite alot to assimilate now) not really kill them?!

Her: yes mum, REALLY kill them. Duh.


Such are the traditions at Cambridge apparently. The dagger will doubtless join the plethora of evening dresses that were evidently imperative to life at university too, ‘do you know how many formals there are?’ she demanded in Primark (for my budget, especially given the half dozen required, only goes so far). No. I do not. Nor did I know what tubbing was (rowing, if you didn’t either). Though I do understand debating, stand-up comedy and volunteering for the elderly, all of which she has also engaged in. One must wonder when the academics are going to happen: today, presumably, when she takes out her victim in her anthropology class.

I walked around Trinity in awe. It is a beautiful college in a lovely city. It was broiling white-hot day that day: a melting 30 degrees. In October? The college porters, in their bowler hats, wore short shirt sleeves and were delightful. One engaged us in a lengthy conversation about a previous student who’d had – at his disposal – a lear jet on a near by airstrip. My daughter will have to use the bus.


Husband and I didn’t even pretend to be cool, we snapped away and made our daughter wear her new gown for even more pictures, ‘oh god how embarrassing’, she said.

I wrote to her afterwards. Keep a journal I instructed. Write everything down. Save every single ticket for every single occasion. Partly so that I might enjoy her experience vicariously but mainly so that she remembers because when she’s old and addled and embarrassing like her mother, she might not.

And then we came home. 9 hours in a plane, 12 in a car and were jolted back to Outpost reality.

And skyped conversations about imminent assassinations.

21 Responses to “Assassins”

  1. Sabine Says:

    Bless you Skype, I say! I am actually having a lot more “face-to-face” conversations with my daughter across the planet than when she lived a mere 600 km from home on our continent.
    Just think of our poor parents who maybe got a lousy postcard once in a while.

  2. Muddling Along Says:

    How cool – my brother was a Cambridge assassin back in the day

    Low point was him having to let me know (since I was in loco parentis) that he’d been arrested by the armed tactical response unit after someone had misunderstood what was going on…

  3. Addy Says:

    It’s a different world there, isn’t it, especially the jargon? I think some academic work does get done, but mainly when the social life allows, especially in freshers’ fortnight. Long live Skype. It has been a gem..

  4. Lyn Says:

    Loved this post. Even though my girl is only under an hour away, the house is empty without her. We still Skype as though she were across the world. I find myself chuckling at her dramatic declarations, “I have 3 mid terms in two days … it’s ree-dic—uuuuu-lous!! I’m gonna die!!” Ever the dramatic … I also was awestruck when she toured me the grounds of her institute of higher learning and I admit a part was a wee bit envious. I hope she has a wildly fun/successful experience and that you survive the outpost without her. : )

  5. Leilani Lee Says:

    Technology that was proposed in the science fiction stories I read as a kid are suddenly becoming reality. How lucky for your daughter to be able to participate in Guild games.

  6. R. Sherman Says:

    Skype is a godsend to those of us with loved ones overseas.

    BTW, here the college kids do “Humans v. Zombies.” Last Christmas, we perused the toy aisles looking for the perfect assortment of weaponry for my daughter’s return to college.

    Query, whatever happened to cramming 58 people in a Volkswagen Bug?


  7. Kit Says:

    We had a memorable Assassins game when I was in my last year of university – it was hair-raising, and most people stayed away from their lectures for days so as not to be hit!
    Can’t believe they still need evening dress and have formal dinners!!
    I hope mine all Skype when they reach the stage of flying the nest. I know I hardly ever rang home or even sent a postcard from one end of the term to the next.

  8. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    Wow, sounds like she’s having so much fun, I’m jealous! We had formal dinners at Bristol in the 90s but we definitely didn’t wear evening dress – more like a little black dress. I remember ringing my parents about once a fortnight, from the payphone. Skype would have been great.

  9. John Buchanan Says:

    Before Skype I used to send dictaphone tapes home when I was away. I would carry the recorder on me when out in the bush or up country and chat away or listen whenever I got a break. Voices and letters from far away are so very precious, especialy when separated from loved ones.

  10. Cheryl Cato Says:

    Wonderful post… and what a shock to learn that your daughter is studying to be an assassin! I’m so glad you have Skype; hopefully, it makes the distance bearable.

  11. MsCaroline Says:

    That sounds like wonderful fun, and so glad you are able to Skype with her! I fly back in January to get Son#1 settled in for the spring semester at his university and just hope he’ll Skype as often with us as he has been with his friends back in the US while he’s been here in Seoul.

  12. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you all. I agree: TG for Skype.

    An update from the assassin:

    “I failed my assassination; I didn’t write ‘knife’ on my dagger. but am going to get the rules checked. Now he knows who I am, can avoid me, or worse… take me out. This may be the last time we speak …”

    Am very glad I know it’s just a game!

  13. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Where have those days gone? You must both be such proud parents..Tell her Matumba does a great line in cocktail dresses!!

  14. doglover Says:

    I don’t recognise the language, the events or anything else except the picture! I spent three largely wasted years in the college next to Trinity and am glad I didn’t keep a record of my doings to embarrass me these 58 years later!

    Yes, 58! 1950-1953 …


  15. nuttycow Says:

    Wow – that sounds like so much fun. We never had that at Uni (although, to be fair, I wasn’t at Cambridge!)

    I think your advice is sound – I still find random bits and bobs I’ve kept from Uni and it never fails to amuse me.

    (and skype is a god-send, isn’t it?)

  16. Iota Says:

    Is it just me, or are students these days incomparably more sophisticated than in my time? I don’t think I knew what an evening dress was. Certainly didn’t posses one.

  17. tash Says:

    Tell her to read Stephen Fry’s “The Fry Chrnonicles” – as one would imagine with Fry, pretty lewd from time to time, but SO intelligent, and such a lovely insight into days gone by at Cambridge – and stand-up comedy!

    What a lucky girl. And lucky you too xx

  18. Elaine Says:

    I was a bit alarmed at first, when I started reading this post! Sounds like fun, though – something to keep her mind off the dreadful studying! 🙂

  19. Rebecca Says:

    Ah memories – daughter spent 3 years at Trinity. Freshers’ fortnight? 48 hours more like! For another take see: Work does get done – lots of it.

  20. ann Says:

    I love Cambridge. And Hat is in Norfolk? Not far away. I live in Lincolnshire if they ever need anything I would happy to oblige. Although, the talk of assissins etc. is a bit alarming! Would I be safe? 🙂

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Ann, that’s very kind. and their big brother is on a college stint in Norfolk too, so all three in that little corner of England. Yup, you’d definatley be safe from assassin: she told me she failed as she neglected to write ‘knife’ on the weapon (make of carboard!) x

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