William Dell, not his real name, published in the early 1980s an anthropological analysis of a Cambridge college called St Dominic's. St Dominic's is a real college in Cambridge under a disguise- the clue is in the name. The point about St Dominic's as Dell portrays it is that it is a little absurd: old dons fall asleep during governing body, the bursar's committee is the only committee in college to stand above the wine committee and the gardening committee, fines for being late come in claret and teaching is done over tea or sherry depending on the time of day and the mood of the don. Oxford and Cambridge have changed since then- they are more open places, open to women in particular- and they are less conservative than they once were. They still have oddities and they still harbour eccentricities that an unkind eye would stigmatise. They still live and die by a tutorial system that is as terrifying and rigorous an education as you can get, have within them exceptionally intelligent, learned and cosmopolitan people but still function on the basis of small rules and hidden insults. They are a mixture between the mannered, the kind, the cruel and the learned. St Dominic's has changed since William Dell wrote this article, but maybe not as much as some might have expected in the early 1980s.