Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Manners makyth proctor
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When I risked the crumbling masonry
And scaled a dangerous height,
Putting petticoats on pinnacles,
The Proctors weren't polite.

Without a shred of courtesy
They said I must be tight —
Scarce doffed their caps or called me "Sir" —
The Proctors weren't polite.

They set their bulldogs after me:
But ready for the fight,
I balcked an eye or two — yet still
The Proctors weren't polite.

When they found me outside Bodley
In the thick of Bonfire Night
They pinched my can of paraffin —
The Proctors weren't polite.

When I denigrate Professors,
And show what very slight
Respect I have for Tutors — why
The Proctors aren't polite.

Now come ye Franks Commissioners,
Admit that I am right
The young may be offensive, rude,
Sardonic, boorish, coarse and crude,
But manners in the S.C.R.
Must be a shining light,
And the bark of every Proctor
Be as gentle as his bite.


A leading article in the student magazine Isis called the system of proctorial summonses 'downright bad manners'.  'Manners makyth man' is the motto of New College. The Commission chaired by Lord Franks examined the governance of the University and reported in 1966.

Oxford Times, 20 November 1964