Oh, we missed a trick there,’ says someone in a punt as we glide past them, champagne in hand. Yes, it seems even in this day and age there are some people who will do a tour of the Backs – the backside of the lovely university buildings – in Cambridge without a bottle of champagne. Who are these people? What do they want from us?
Not that we would have probably thought of bringing champagne – actually, English sparkling wine, which is even smarter – on a guided tour. Or maybe we would have. Whatever here we are leaning back on our University Arms-branded cushions in our University Arms-branded punt while someone talks us through the history – from Henry VIII to Harry Potter – attached to these beautiful buildings, up to and including the story of Alan Turing, the man credited with ending the war by breaking the Nazi’s code, who was a big noise in Cambridge.
From geeky beginnings to war hero status to condemned for going about his gay business back before the fight had been fought and largely won, Turing casts a long shadow over Cambridge. Heck his name is even on the door of our suite at the University Arms, not to mention the fact he’s just been promoted to the backside of the new £50 note in a picture that makes him look cute, boyish. And the University Arms have just launched a Turing tour of the town, that’s how seriously Cambridge’s best hotel takes its gay – and now national! – history.