Saturday, 2 February 2013

2013 Brackenber Dinner

I attended the annual old Brackenbrian dinner last night, at the Ulster Reform Club, Royal Avenue, Belfast.

This yearly reunion is delightful. Old Brackenbrians are naturally diminishing in number, given that the school closed more than two decades ago.

It is wonderful to meet fellow Brackenbrians again; to recall fondly old school masters and mistresses, such as John Craig, Zoe Rankin, Harvey Cross, Bunny English, Mrs Horne, Dorothy Dunlop, and Messrs Maguire, Magowan and Sheehan, to name a few.

It was good to see Johnny Knox at the dinner this year. He taught - correction, tried - to teach me French at Campbell. Actually, French was one of my better subjects.

Many old boys recognise me now as Lord Belmont, my alter ego (!). I take this in good spirit.

I TOOK a cab into town. At the club, I strode up the wide, carpeted staircase to the lounge bar, where a complimentary glass of wine awaited me. Gordon Harvey greeted me and ticked me off his list.

We all assembled here, fifty-four of us on this occasion, prior to wandering into the large dining-room, which overlooks Royal Avenue. It has a gallery, which doesn't seem to be used.

This room, like the club itself, is Victorian in character, with wooden panelling, lofty ceiling, columns and fine paintings.

I was told about a particularly large painting by an artist whose name escapes me; though I was apprised of its considerable value.

THE SPEAKER at our dinner was a celebrated Old Brackenbrian himself, Paul, now the Lord Bew, who treated us to a witty speech reminiscing, in particular, about the great John Craig, Brackenber's headmaster. I was introduced to him after dinner.

The meal, as you'd expect, was of a very good standard, the main course consisting of roast sirloin of beef and Yorkshire pudding. I shall post the full menu this afternoon.

I WISH to express my cordial compliments and gratitude to Gordon Harvey, who organised the event; and the Ulster Reform Club, for such a memorable and successful evening.

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