The bridge of lies: Visiting Cambridge with a misguided tour guide

Chase Caldwell Smith 2 February 2015

Yes, yes, over here. Is everyone together? Don’t want to lose anyone – Cambridge has a mildly dangerous city center, you know, especially at this time of day.

Ok, spiffy then. If you’d like to follow me, we’ll start over here. Gather round! Just take a gander – by golly isn’t it beautiful? No, my dear lady, that’s just King’s College Chapel. I’m referring to that imposing stone fence separating you from the inside of the college. Built in the late nineteenth century to keep the soaring walk-on-the-grass rates down at King’s, it has been effective at blocking out randomers for over a century (including me – I was pooled from there you know!)

Moving on – here we’re passing Ryder & Amies, your new prime gift destination. Make sure you pick up your quality Cambridge jumpers – not now, mind you – afterwards! Come back! That was awkward. Anyways, I promise that you’ll blend in seamlessly with the student population, which is of course a laugh and a half.

We’re now approaching my favourite college, Gonville & Caius. Careful though, this one’s tricky to pronounce. Did you know that you can tell a tourist from a student just by asking them for directions to this college? Here, I’ll help you out. It’s one of the oldest colleges – pretty darn old I might say – so this has been confusing folks for centuries. OK, repeat after me: “Gonville and CAY – OOOS.” Yes, sir, “Cay-oooos.” You must be careful not to rhyme the second word with “keys” – that would be a dead giveaway.

We’ll keep walking now – watch out for that cycle! Yes, Trinity Street is one-way, apparently. I’ve tried cycling the wrong way, and goodness, was I yelled at! Well, enough about me, here’s Trinity. The College has a long and venerable history stretching all the way back to its foundation by Henry VIII, which was funded with wealth stolen viciously during the dissolution of the monasteries. Fascinating! It’s a pretty big college, but as I told my history supervisor last week, it sure looks to me like Henry was compensating for a lack of male heirs.

Over here is Trinity’s fiercest financial rival, St. John’s, which is named after a saint named John, of which I am told there were many. It may be world-famous for the redness of its bricks, but its ultimate renown lies in the horrendous songs drunk students hurl at it in the night-time: something about Oxford being better? Don’t glower at me – we all know Cambridge is far better than the Other Place – oh you’re an Oxford graduate are you? I’m so sorry.

Anyways, thanks for coming on my enlightening tour! I think I did a good job if I say so myself. If you’d like to see Girton, it’s a half-day’s journey in that direction. Have fun!