16 March 2008
My last missive on this esteemed website began with the observation that the sun always seems to shine on the College whenever an event or function summons me there... apparently these were famous last words!
Are there any gloomy days in Brighton? It seems to me that each and every visit I make to the old school is blessed with (often unseasonably) sunny and warm weather. Saturday 1st March 2008 was no exception, and again I challenge any casual observer not to be struck by how beautiful the campus looks on days such as these.
For the first London Drinks of 2008 we’d chosen a new venue in the City, Firefly Bar at The Old Bailey – a terrific venue where we were very well looked after. The Old Brightonians had an area of the bar cordoned off where a select group of 13 of us spent a very pleasant evening.
As we set off from Hereford I gave a little sigh and, when questioned by Isobel, admitted that I was wondering why I was setting off on a gloomy November day to drive two hundred miles across England for a dinner. Once we had arrived, however, all doubts were dispelled as we plunged into the happy hubbub of old friends.
What a terrific night - this is how the London Drinks should work! I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t rather have a few more of you along to these things, but the turnout tonight was a decent enough size, I suppose (15 or so), and the quality of the company more than made up for it’s quantity.
When engaged in the art rugby, the vanquishing of thine enemy can be the warrior's only concern. This is the first and cardinal rule of our game, of our code, of our very brotherhood. Suppress all human emotion and compassion; destroy whoever stands in thy way. This truth lies at the heart of the art of your combat, be it the power of the number eight or the nimble jink of the fly half. Once it is mastered. Thou shall fear no one. Though the devil himself may bar thy way.
Bringing back Commemoration Day to the OB calendar does seem a perfect way to celebrate and acknowledge the 125th Anniversary of the Association, and that the day was graced with terrific weather certainly saved the blushes of those of us who had campaigned so vigorously for this summer replacement to September’s OB Day.
It's difficult to know where to begin with my report on this "reunion". I'm delighted to say that those who actually showed up at The Brunswick on 12th April proved great company. The problem was that there were just 6 of us (and one of us - me - isn't even under 30)!
A select gathering of ten Old Brightonians this evening - not the heaving throng we’ve been used to of late, but perhaps the success of the January Drinks (in terms of sheer numbers, at least) had prompted us in our enthusiasm to organise tonight’s gathering a little to soon. Nevertheless, quality more than made up for quantity, and this particular slice of alumni represented some of the most interesting OBs that I have personally had the pleasure to meet.
"Come along, it will be great!" If I have heard it once, I have heard it... oooohhh... 7 or 8 times. This time I did come along and, do you know what, it was good. Damn good. In fact the only negative about the evening was the fact that even more didn’t turn up.
What an evening! If you don't believe me then just take a look the ‘photos on this website, you will see plenty of animated smiling faces which, for me, sums up the purpose of events like this. Mind you with a combination of Ann Widdecombe as guest speaker, over 150 guests and a large contingent of 1981’ers what more could one expect?
Motspur Park near Wimbledon was the scene for the 10th annual National Cronk-Cunis U21’s Old boys Rugby tournament. Unlike the last two tournaments the sky was an uncharacteristic grey, bruised and heavy with moisture it suppressed overhead like a granite coloured blanket of discontent.
The 2006 Graduation Day Ceremony, attended by all 6th form leavers, friends, family, staff and alumni, was every bit as uplifting as the OBA President David Gold had told me it would be... I had been asked by our esteemed leader to attend on his behalf as he was busy darting around the country amassing support for his imminent assault on government. I was happy to do so, even though it meant addressing the assembled throng on a summer’s day so hot that it lent new gravitas to the expression "passing-out ceremony"!
The first OB gathering of 2006 was an all male affair that in terms of College attendance spanned over 50 years!
As numbers go, the evening started off slowly, but built to a comfortable throng of 25 or so Old Brightonians. When I arrived shortly after 6pm David Gold (S. 1986-91) and Adam Belson (R. 1979-84) were the sole attendees – apparently trying to convince a sceptical barman that this evening would be worth his while...
This has been a year of innovation for the Association, especially in the way we communicate with our members and the College community. The Association website, which is now updated almost daily, has been totally revamped with the addition of a community notice board, photo gallery, and an expanded OB Hall of Fame. We are registering an average of more than 150 hits a day on the website and many OBs are emerging from the woodwork to provide us with news. Going forwards, we are developing a new membership page, and looking for greater expansion of the Directory of OB Businesses and Services. My thanks go to our web designer, Alex Bremer (R. 1979-83) for all his hard work and constant enthusiasm which goes well beyond the call of duty.
Twenty five years is a long time but what about the 1949 PE team? They were there too and so were quite a few of those who were only yesterday (as it were) walking across the quad without a (real) care in the world. For those of us celebrating a silver anniversary of leaving the College it was for most the first time we had returned for a great many years.
In spite of all the rain dances and prayers for divine intervention to assist the England cricketers at the Oval, Brighton College was blessed with warm sunshine for OB Day, which was fitting because for some, it was their first visit in many a year.
All the efforts in planning and training were put under threat by doubts over our departure day due to the strike by South African Airways. A phone call at 11am on the morning of departure gave us the go ahead. The tour was up and running. However, another obstacle awaited us is Johannesburg in the form of passport control, which took two and half hours to clear. This put enormous pressure on catching our connecting flight to Cape Town and only the pleadings of an old man and the size of the party allowed us to win the day and board the plane half an hour late.
This year we are celebrating the 160th anniversary of Brighton College’s foundation, and both the Headmaster and the Old Brightonian Association are very keen to celebrate this occasion fittingly. Hence there will be a number of events arranged at the school to mark the achievements of Brighton College, events which we hope will enable Old Brightonians of all ages to renew past associations and friendships.
The association’s dinner this year was a select affair. As if consciously to complement last year’s, when 30 years of coeducation was celebrated, an overwhelmingly male party gathered together in the Dining Hall on a cold November night. It was a most convivial evening of good wines, an excellent dinner, and of course one in which nostalgic reminiscences hung in the air like cigar smoke.
As with all accounts of such gatherings, I must open my report with a pathetically grateful nod to whoever arranged for the promised rain to hold off (which meant that Joey Appleton’s (D.1979-84) hair stayed fabulous all day!).
The inaugural Vice-Presidents’ Luncheon was held on Thursday 14 July at the Army & Navy Club, courtesy of Peter Miller (C. 1945-49). In spite of the chaos caused to the London transport system by the events of the previous week, all fourteen guests made it in time, many observing the 2 minute silent tribute to the victims of the London terrorist outrage en route.
It may have taken 160 years but Brighton College finally knows how to throw a really good party! After a rainy start to the day it was decided to abandon the planned Reception on the Lawns, opting for the safety of the Great Hall. Around 450 guests filed past the ‘living statue’ to enjoy a glass or two of Champagne as the College Swing Band demonstrated why it is in such high demand. Street entertainers mingled among the dinner jackets and gowns to create a truly joyous atmosphere.
More than 80 ‘old girls’ celebrated 30 years of co-education at Brighton College at a special dinner on Saturday 29th November 2003. Speakers included Bill Blackshaw, the former Headmaster who introduced girls to the College and Lucinda Harris (F. 1973-75) who was one of the first girls to join the school. Jane Haviland (F. 1979-81), currently President of the Old Brightonians Association and the first lady elected to this post, also spoke.
A pre-season rugby day, followed by a dinner and dance in the evening, was held at the College on Saturday 31 August 2002. Its purpose was to celebrate 30 years of rugby under the tutalege of John Pope. John has relinquished his title of 'Master in charge of rugby' to Richard Halsall and it seemed an appropriate way to recognise John's contribution to rugby at the College.
The 2nd OBA US Dinner was held in the Pacific Room at the Carnelian Room which is in the City's Bank of America building. Ingram Losner (D. 1973-1978) organised a sensational dinner in an extraordinary setting. The Pacific Room was for those of us not used to eating dinner on the 52nd floor of a skyscraper quite the most wonderful experience! The view alone was worth the trip...
The College remembrance service is unique amongst the services held on a Sunday during the year, as there is no communion or sermon, and is jointly held for the senior and prep schools in the College. Instead, a few prayers are interspersed with much poetry, music and personal accounts of visitors to the Somme.
Those boots should have been the giveaway. In a modest crowd of dinner suits and evening dresses, they were very out of place. Black suede boots with metal-tipped toes - the sort of thing that goes down well in Arizona but somehow seems a bit silly on a dank, November night in Brighton. I'm not sure those with an eye for style would have approved of the rest of the outfit either. Velvet knee-length jacket, white shirt and one of those leather tassel-tie things that doesn't go down well anywhere, really.