Twenty years is quite a long time, especially when the current Y13's at our alma mater were two years of age when we left in 1991. Time is a very odd concept and what it does to you, either through the graceful ageing process or the fact that going back to Brighton last Saturday made us all feel as if it was just yesterday we left... and what a day we had!
The day started at The Ginger Dog (The Wellington in our days and the right name), a quaint little pub just down from the College that of course the modern generation at the College would not be able to frequent as we once did. A fine lunch was taken and we were all honoured to be joined, quite spontaneously, by Mr Tony Whitestone, Housemaster to many (and a general all-round legend) for a spot of pudding. He amazed us with his sense of recall (I being a teacher struggle sometimes to remember what I am teaching period three on a Tuesday let alone people who I last saw twenty years ago).
We then moved up the hill to the College and through the familiar, gothically revived arches of Sir George Gilbert Scott (passing a Fort Knox style barricade and polite porters) for a tour, superbly organised by Ms Rebecca Findlay and a smart, well mannered (well, what would you expect from a Brighton chap?) and thoroughly charming young man, Alex Balcigill (Abraham U6), who led the tour.
We started up in main entrance, with a few of us searching for the Sports Board that had all teams displayed for the following Saturday fixtures. No 'Junior Colts A' team anymore but times do change. No Prefect Common Room - now a room for the Deputy Master, a room us minions once peered into with wild jealousy as the prefect drank orange juice and ate biscuits as we gawped in, hoping for a few crumbs.
Alas, aspects do change but the new decor was bold and unmistakably Brighton College. From there, we made our way up the stairs to what was for many of us who took English A Level, Mr Wilmott's classroom at one end, divided by a rather attractive concertina door to where Mr Robinson taught us. This was now a Common Room with soft furnishings (something we noticed around the school - lots of communal spaces with bean bags everywhere!).
We moved onto the library, the old Masters' Common Room (another room for pupils and a room I never entered as a boy!), dining room (oh the queuing for lunch!!), Home Ground, (where the 1st XI were playing Eastbourne), new art block, Hampden House (the author's fine establishment) that had literally not changed in twenty years! The Horsebox (6th Form Common Room) was the same (there were three pictures on the wall from 1991 from a Housemeeting we all attended and there it was), Mr Spencer's office (now Mr Withers, my old tutor), the changing rooms (my locker was still bent from where I got into it with a modicum of force as I lost my key before cross country) and of course all the House photos and honours boards (no House Captain in 1988???). But it was the smell of the House that was the same and this was the same feeling we all got as we headed to our respective houses; Fenwick (first time in there for us men!), Williams, School, Chichester - it was so weird but so good to be back.
Once the tour of the Great Hall and chapel ended with us all sitting in the same seats for a few moments, we headed outside for a group photo, the same spot we finished on our final day in June 1991, fresh from belting out 'Jerusalem' followed by tears, hugs, shirt-signing, writing addresses on pieces of paper (no mobiles, no Facebook... oh a simpler life) and then off to the only place on earth at that time we wanted to be as we grew from boys to men, girls to women - The Bristol Arms, the last drinking hole on our final day. A few drinks later, we lost a few of the group who had to head home but the hardy few ploughed through the night to extend this strange but brilliant day of time travelling.
The final stop was to 'Proud Brighton', a fabulous club in Kemp Town where we rounded the evening off in style with drinks, great music and bust flip flops.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the OB's who made the effort; David Gold (S. 1986-91) who organised the day, Bruce Josyfon (L. 1986-91), Paul Thornton (S. 1986-91), John Papanichola (H. 1986-91), Nina Humphries (W. 1989-91), Andrea Burns (F. 1989-91), Dean Piggott (S. 1986-91), Richard Eborn (R. 1986-91), Phil Tredinnick (S. 1986-91) and myself and of course, Ms Rebecca Findlay who showed us round with such finesse and professionalism along with the help of a Sixth former.
The school was as wonderful then as it is now as I am sure it was back in its first year of 1845. The past always seems more rosy and fun and full of reminiscences but this school is still as good as ever and to be a pupil here now in 2012 must be as fantastic and special as it was then. The first ever public school in Sussex is still setting the standards others must surely follow.
Andrea Burns (F. 1989-91)
Richard Eborn (R. 1986-91)
David Gold (S. 1986-91)
Nina Humphries (W. 1989-91)
Bruce Josyfon (L. 1986-91)
Simon Middleton (H. 1986-91)
John Papanichola (H. 1981-91)
Dean Piggott (C. 1986-91)
Paul Thornton (S. 1986-91)
Philip Tredinnick (S. 1986-91)