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Peter Mee

(Assistant Planning Officer, 1959-67; Registrar, 1967-96; College Secretary 1996-98)
regales the time he started as the Staff Orator.

Watch the interview or read the transcript below:

Commemoration Day, Royal Albert HallAnother one of Ron Oxburgh’s sudden ideas, he said “What about doing this?” and I initially shied away from it completely and then I thought about it. In fact I quite enjoyed it once I got into it. The first occasion, although it was the first one and could have been more difficult to live with, I found the most easy to do because there were two people in it who I knew quite well, David Mayne and Steve Ley. Of course a lot of people knew them so I got lots of anecdotes and stories about them which I could incorporate in the oration, and so I think the first one went down quite well. I think the most difficult one was Claude Allegre who had been the Minister of Education in France, who I had written to to try to go and see and interview, but had heard nothing. I only met him the night before the presentation, but fortunately Eric Stables who was in charge of language here, his son in Paris had searched the website and found a lot of information about him and in fact there had been by chance an article in I think the Independent about his dealings with the teaching unions in France so I was able to put something together. But that was perhaps the most difficult of them all.

But no, on the whole it was quite enjoyable and in fact in many ways I found it certainly a lot easier than having to make after dinner speeches at student dinners. Apart from the usual interruptions and rude comments, at least on the platform at the Albert Hall, you can’t actually see the audience, there are six thousand aren’t there – but you couldn’t see them with the lights, you had a citation which you could read and so you could act out the part almost, so in many ways I found that easier to do than after dinner speeches.

  © 2007 Imperial College London

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