Donations are essential to keep Write Out Loud going    


entry picture

I read recently on the BBC News website a story about a former Oxford student who was surprised to find that he was roomed next door to the Crown Prince of Japan, now Emperor Naruhito.  It took my eye because I too was at University with royalty – namely Rodney Sempa (Anglicised name) the nephew of the previously deposed King of Uganda, who, although he was known as King Freddie, his full Sunday name was Kabaka Sir Edward Frederick William David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Muteesa II of Buganda.

We were not quite so politically correct in the early 70’s as many “It Was OK in the 70/80’s etc” TV programmes will testify and a black man at university, especially a blue-chip like Durham, was a rarity.

Rodney was a good sport though and took ribbing in good part.  We intended no offence and he took none.  These days it would have elicited squeals of outrage as it should;  these days.  Back then society’s norms were hugely different and it would be silly to judge them by those of today.  If you disagree my response would be “Well go back and change them then”.

“A good sport” too in the sense that he was a competent rugby player, taking position on the wing because of his speed in the university team.  We all had nick-names, of course, and mine was “Fats”.  (I suppose if I was playing rugby today it would be “Calorifically Challenged”).  The other prop forward was “Bungalow” because he had nowt upstairs and Rodney, unimaginatively, was “Abubu”.  This stuck after he got grafted into a well-known rugby song along with a posh Scots laird called Robin (“Angus”) Sinclair that was sung to and from away matches.  Fellow former rugger buggers might recognise the original from one of its verses.

They shagged day and night

Through that North Eastern light;

Old Angus he revved like a car

But he could not compete

With the slow steady beat

Of Sir Rodney Abubu Sempa.


I think back occasionally on those days and if I ever met with him again (he’d would be in his 70’s now too) I’d like to apologise.

“No need, old boy” I’m sure he’d say.  “No need at all”.

He was the most gentlemanly of we middle class warriors.





Profile image

John Coopey

Thu 27th Jun 2024 21:25

It would almost certainly have been Union, MC. Bath is a top Union club and the West Country is also. League is a York’s/Lancs/Cumbria thing.

Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Thu 27th Jun 2024 16:27

I am reminded of a saying: Rugby is game for hooligans played by gentlemen. Soccer is a game for gentlemen played by hooligans. Our school had a rugby player (who played for Bath)
as a teacher so that was the school game. Never could get to
grips with its rules and can't recall whether it was "Union" or "League".

Profile image

John Coopey

Thu 27th Jun 2024 15:20

What could have been, eh, RAP? You might have been a bishop at the very least by now.
And thanks for the Likes, David and Larisa.

Profile image

R A Porter

Thu 27th Jun 2024 07:35

“Fats” (!) I was equally unimaginatively “Ports” at that fine establishment, Hatfield College, Durham a few years after you John. My closest mates were the rugger buggers Skel, Griff & Pongid - all still great pals. I was in plays, so was a bit of a curiousity. My only real brush with the aristocracy was when, through one of the plays, I met and went for a drink with a fellow cast member called Rebecca. Her Dad had “recently changed jobs” so the family had moved from St Albans to Durham. It was “very handy for Victoria” and I was welcome to stay any time I was down. I later discovered she was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s daughter & home was Lambeth Palace 😀

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message