01 December 2006

The devil's got hold of the weather today. At breakfast I heard a great howling outside, followed by a minor tremor in the walls. I opened the back door and a sudden roaring as I've never heard filled the place; some yards away a wall of bare birch trees as high as five stories were bowing right and left, catching the wind. What a din! It seems the rain's now turning to snow, and the temperature has dropped sharply. Scarf and mittens weather.

Speaking of scarves, according to The Uppers Organization, the "most stylish way to defend your neck from the icy north wind is with a college scarf."
[T]he college scarf eschews dangly tassels, and its simple rectangular shape is a minimalist’s delight. Yet it still carries with it a dandyish charm, consisting of long stripes of colour; each design consisting of at least two, and sometimes up to six, different colours.
I have exactly two college scarves: one from Keble College, when I was an associate student of Oxford, and one from Wolfson, when I was a graduate student. They are both of lovely color and design, Keble being a navy blue with red and white stripes, and Wolfson even lovelier, with its yellow, red, and navy stripes. You can see a complete set of scarf colors and designs here. (I've always thought Worcester College to have the most unattractive color combination: pink and brown. It's enough to make Jeeves knit the eyebrows and rub the temples in angst.)

A little history of the college scarf:
According to the company Luke Eyres, manufacturer of scarves for Ede & Ravenscroft, “To our knowledge Mr Hopkins and Mr D Eyres were the instigators of the traditional University scarf. In 1938/9 a Mr Hopkins worked for Almonds in Cambridge who used to supply knitted scarves to the Universities. Due to the war, wool was in short supply so they had to find an alternative material to use. Mr Hopkins met Mr D Eyres and they came up with the idea of using woven material in replacement. This woven material was torn into strips and used for the university scarves, thus starting the beginning of the vertical striped scarf. After the war although the knitted scarves were then available most of the Universities decided to stay with the new cloth arrangement. The scarves were mainly produced for the Cambridge Universities and Boat clubs but soon became popular within all the Universities.” The scarf colours are based on each college’s crest, and are also used on the blades of each college’s rowing club oars....