The Stately Halls of Oxbridge
(with apologies to Noel Coward)
Here you see the colleges,
still debating what knowledge is,
and for whom it should avail.
When most of us were still at school
it was assumed to be the rule,
the working class was predicated
Now they say, equality
must become the normality
and in this we must not fail.
We must be open to those strata of subsistence
whose mere existence
turns our complexions pale.
The stately halls of Oxbridge are answering the call,
we're willing to provide opportunities for all.
We are ready to welcome the hoy poloy,
to unite Essex girl with Camden boy
- though we'll probably employ
more security -
but we won't put up a fight,
if the price is right.
It makes us apprehensive, it has to be confessed,
when grades from comprehensives turn out to be the best,
and if ever we sight a baseball cap in the Senior Common
it's doom for the stately halls of Oxbridge.
Here you see autocracy
face to face with democracy,
looking for a compromise.
Although we think it will be hell,
the funding will be very wel-
come if we open up our borders
with the lower orders.
Though we fear the shock of it,
we know we have to take stock of it,
this is where the future lies.
So if we cannot change our fate, then, we will face it
-let us embrace it -
enterprise never dies!
The stately halls of Oxbridge we proudly recommend,
though once we were elitist, those days are at an end:
the selection conference has to go,
and instead you can tell us what you know
on a home-made video
or a CD Rom.
Or perhaps we might share a jar
in the Union bar.
We'll offer an MA in political technique,
- the content won't be much but the package will be chic -
and if levelling down to Gordon Brown is the way we have to
we'll open the stately halls of Oxbridge.
The stately halls of Oxbridge are searching near and far
to satisfy the punters' demand for the bizarre.
So come here to do a PhD
in cabaret dancing or Tai chi;
a diploma in Feng Shui
and those who can spare the time
think it is sublime.
A course in Origami is very much in mind,
a Masters in Macramé is soon to be designed;
if you're someone who plays the Marsellaise on an
then come to the Stately halls of Oxbridge.
© Michael Forster