Musing, at the age of 86, on the now very distant days when I studied modern languages at Oxford, I fell to wondering whether, in this digital age, the old-fashioned lecture still goes on as it once did? This thought prompted my recollection of the occasions when, in addition to or instead of the usual paraphernalia for note-taking, a few of the bolder spirits among the female undergraduates had begun to bring along their knitting to certain classes at the Taylorian.

This, it seemed to me, demonstrated both women’s fabled skill in multi-tasking and the knitters’ adverse verdict on the potential value of the more tedious of the lectures they had been bidden to attend. This scepticism was implicitly encouraged by one of the dons, who told his audience that university lectures (including those which he himself was unfortunately obliged to deliver) had been rendered entirely obsolete by William Caxton’s introduction of the printing press in 1476.