Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

I’m honoured, and touched, and a little weepy

Alex’s page in Luce

Last week I got a copy of Luce in the mail. Luce is the annual newsletter of Janet Clarke Hall, the wonderful University of Melbourne residential college where I lived for four extremely rewarding, extremely challenging, extremely exhausting years.

I had a lot of fun when I finally got round to reading it. I always knew that the other tutors, people with whom I shared the Senior Common Room, were brilliant – and now the rest of the world knows too. Leng Lee, with whom I had many an argument about the best way to provide pastoral care (he leaned more towards ‘tough love’ than I did), was Victoria’s Rhodes Scholar for 2006. The wonderful Anna Goldsworthy continued her career as a brilliant concert pianist. And my dear Alice Pung published her first book, the marvellous and widely praised Unpolished Gem. One of the things I found amusing about the brilliance of this tiny Senior Common Room was that it was Anna who reviewed Alice’s book for the Australian Book Review.

Part of the reason I loved tutoring at JCH was that I got to meet some amazing young people. In future years I am going to be able to boast about having known painters and musicians and authors and High Court judges and philanthropists and “the new Bill Gates” (but with free shareware) and politicians (well, I might boast about having known the politicians) when they were students at JCH. But I can already boast about knowing the people who were my fellow tutors.

Then, after enjoying all this, including the great photo of the extremely diminutive Alice presenting the extremely tall Malcolm Fraser with a copy of her book, I came to Alex Murphy’s report as Student Club President. In his article, Alex sought to answer the question: “What’s so special about JCH?” And this was one of his answers:

“Often, the answer I give is anecdotal. I tell people how I met the legendary tutor, law graduate, feminist, priest and now friend, Avril Hannah-Jones, on my sceptical first tour of college, and of the easy familiarity and deep friendship which was plain to see as we dropped in on students.”

I read this and found myself teary. I had no idea that Alex had written anything like this. I am in no way legendary, but it’s nice of Alex to write it.

I was very lucky to have the chance to live and work at JCH. I had previously been rather scornful of the residential colleges, places of such privilege. I still am a little scornful of the big colleges, described so accurately by one of my of my History professors as ‘the rugger-bugger colleges’. Colleges struck me as sexist, homophobic and extremely exclusive – and from the outside that is how many of them still appear to me to be. But they can also provide wonderful places of community and learning and artistic endeavour – at least JCH did.  The Principal, Dr Damian Powell, can be very proud of what he has achieved. And I’m looking forward to many years of turning up to events like the Woodend Winter Arts Festival and basking in the pride and pleasure of knowing a JCH-er like Alice Pung.


June 16, 2007 - Posted by | Life, etc.


  1. Glad you liked it. The two statements: the anecdote and JCH being the best thing I’ve ever done are very connected- one diretly led to the other. And at JCH, at least while I was there, you WERE legendary. The fact that you put up with us, plied us with chocolate, hugs and respect and above all put up with ME- Legendary.

    Comment by Alex | June 17, 2007 | Reply

  2. Oh and the luce link on the jch website yet to be is for last years’ one, so you can’t get it via the luce link above. Plus HOW GOOD IS THE FREE CD? ANNA ROCKS! (and her trio too, of course)

    Comment by Alex | June 17, 2007 | Reply

  3. Hey Avril.. my new homepage is finally online. I linked also to your page.
    Hope you will come and have a look on my page and leave me as well a comment. Take care and be blessed…
    your Blue Angel
    the homepage is http://www.consi-online.com

    Comment by Consi | June 18, 2007 | Reply

  4. thanks for the comment Avril. I am glad that you received the book and all the other stuff 🙂
    I think this entry might be of interest for you
    take care…

    Comment by Consi | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  5. Dear Avril,

    Thank you for writing about me, and my book on your journal. I still miss you at Janet Clarke Hall, and there will never be another tutor like you. You brought so much empathy, not just to students, but fellow tutors like myself too. Your parish are very lucky. Thanks for coming to the Woodend festival too. You asked a very pertinent question, one which probably a lot of people think about often but don’t ask, and I am glad that you did. I will visit you soon!

    Comment by Alice Pung | July 20, 2007 | Reply

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