Saturday, 2 February 2019

Brackenber Dinner 2019

Belfast has been relatively unscathed by the very wintry weather sweeping large parts of the country at the moment.

I wasn't expecting it to be wet last night, though, as I left the house, it did begin to rain a little, so I went back and retrieved an umbrella.

I suppose it was about half past six or so when I arrived at Bridge Street, which was lined with taxis, so I motored further along to North Street.

This street was full of cars, too.

In the event I circled the area a few times before finding a space, eventually.

I cut through Rosemary Street and emerged at Royal Avenue, a short hop, skip and jump from my destination, the Ulster Reform Club.

If you have been following the blog, you shall know that I was at the Club last week for lunch and a talk by Artemis Cooper.

The purpose of my visit last night was the annual Old Brackenbrian dinner.

It has been held at that esteemed institution for many years and, prior to that, Brackenber House School itself, and the "Threepenny Bit" at the King's Hall complex.

Our numbers have naturally dwindled though remain buoyant at about 54.

Gordon Harvey

In the cloakroom I met Gordon Harvey, who always does a splendid job of organizing it all.

Having removed the winter apparel we ascended the wide stairs to the Old Billiards-room, our venue.

The organization of the meal has been far easier for Gordon this year, now that payment can be settled by direct payment transfer online.

As usual, it's always a joy to recognize so many familiar faces, especially those from my year at the school.

I hadn't seen David Sholdis for fifty years.

I was sitting between Jeff Dudgeon and Robin Eyre-Maunsell; Paul, now Lord Bew, was to Jeff's left.

I remarked to Jeff (with the tongue firmly in the Belmont cheek) that the Lord Mayoral transport ought to be replaced with a solid British marque such as a Jaguar XJ Long Wheelbase).

Lord Mayoral Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, 1968-78

After some convivial chin-wagging  (I recommended a book written by Alan Clark called Back Fire: A Passion for Motoring to Robin), the nose-bags were donned and we tucked in to parsnip soup, sirloin steak, and hazelnut cake.

I've never been disappointed by the grub at the club yet, and last night wasn't an exception.

The speaker was Paul Sochor, who attended Brackenber from 1940 until 1947.

Paul spoke very well indeed, recounting his experiences including a holiday abroad with Brian, Lord Hutton and Sir Michael Nicholson.

After dinner I "circulated", meeting quite a few old boys.

I chatted to John Knox, who used to teach French at Campbell.

I offered him a lift home, though Henry Muldrew was doing the honours.

Patrick Cross, High Sheriff of County Down a year or two ago, told me about other clubs he'd visited in the metropolis.

By eleven-thirty most of the old boys had drifted off home, so I slipped out and made my way back to Belmont GHQ.

Gordon suggested that we have an annual summer lunch for those who find it difficult to attend the dinner.

I look forward to that.

1 comment :

Demetrius said...

We Dartmoor Old Boys have logistical problems. But Hatton Garden in London is a favourite meeing place. If you know the author Thomas Hardy, he actually lived and wrote a lot in South London. His neighbour was the Chaplain at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. So some of the Hardy works may owe more to this than the supposed rural life of Dorset.