Saturday, 6 February 2016

Brackenber House Annual Dinner

Given that the weather was somewhat inclement in Belfast yesterday, I took a cab into town for the annual Old Brackenbrian dinner at the Ulster Reform Club.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brackenber, it was a prep school at Cleaver Avenue in Belfast.

I was there from about 1971 till 1973 or 74.

The Reform Club is one of Belfast's most venerated institutions: heavy oak panelling; thick, opulent carpets; vaulted ceilings; decent plasterwork; leather armchairs.

You get the idea.

This is the last remaining Victorian gentlemen's club in the city (actually ladies are very welcome now, too).

The Club used to have accommodation for members, though I think this ceased in the 1970s.

Gordon Harvey greeted me on the top floor and I entered the dining-room, overlooking Royal Avenue.

Johnny Knox hailed me as I entered, "Ah, it's Lord Belmont!"

There was a 1970s cine film being shown on the television screens of the school and games days, several teachers, viz. Mr McQuoid, Mr Bull, Miss Rankin, and so on.

I relished the grub, as ever.

We tucked in to spiced parsnip soup with chive oil and freshly baked bread; lamb shank braised with vegetables and red wine, served with a gravy of pan juices; Chef's selection of vegetables and potatoes; home-made deep-filled apple pie with cinnamon cream; and tea or coffee.

I was fortified with a glass of port for the speeches.

There were sixty-two old boys this year, a very commendable turnout given that the school closed down and was demolished many years ago.

I have another old boys' bash next Friday, this time at Campbell.

I must give the old DJ an airing.

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