Memory Lane – part 2

December 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm 3 comments

The second part of my weekend’s trip down memory lane was my college reunion. The classes of 1984 and 1985 of the Queen’s College, Oxford University were brought together again after a 22 year break.

To be honest, if I had not been “pressured” into attending by my three closest friends who had attended university with me, then I would have taken the coward’s way and ignored the invitation to the Boar’s Head Gaudy. As the date grew closer I have to admit to anxiety dreams. I was taken back to feelings that had preceded my attendance at Oxford – I was from a working-class Birmingham family and feared that I would not fit in and would be looked down upon by the posh, pompous, public school prodigies that were sure to abound. The reunion was bringing back the feelings of inadequacy.

Why the Boars Head Gaudy? It is a celebration held every Christmas, when the students from 25 years earlier are invited back. The highlight of the celebration is when the Boar’s Head is paraded through Hall – much like the Scots when they honour that great King of the Puddin’ Race at Hogmanay.

The legend goes that one John Capot, a Queensman of the fourteenth century, had been studying Aristotle in a nearby forest when he was charged by a wild boar. He threw his copy of Aristotle at the boar who swallowed it, choked on it, and died. Aristotle remains, in my opinion, somewhat difficult to consume event today.

To be honest, my anxiety had been misplaced. I spent a very enjoyable evening trying to match names to faces and faces to names. Many of my fellow graduates had changed very little, clearly having sold their souls and/or keeping ageing pictures in their attics. Some had worn particularly well – mostly the girls. Others had worn particularly badly – again, mostly the girls.

At College I had left a skinny, pale, youth and so my newly found manly frame and Clooneyesque looks seemed to cause quite a stir. I was considered by many to be the one “most changed”. And, while I had been flattered by one description as “a silver fox”, I was less pleased to hear of my change as “he’s gone all Kenny Rogers”……..

It was a pleasure to meet my peers once more. There were successful QCs, academics, bankers, medics, wine merchants, businessmen, full-time moms, tour guides and theologians in abundance, and, of course, the man behind Boris, Guto Harri himself – although he was not the only person used to TV cameras in attendance. I am very glad to say that the ones I had hoped would not have changed hadn’t, and, thankfully, the ones I’d hoped had, had.

And College put on a great show. Tea and Christmas cake in the Junior Common Room before we donned our DJs and tried to remember how to tie a bow tie and turned up in Chapel for a “Recital of Seasonal Music”, the Boar’s Head Ceremony, pre-dinner drinks in the Upper Library (the most beautiful room in Oxford), dinner in the Hall followed by the Loving Cup (a secret mead-like recipe handed person to person in a huge cow’s  horn – I had been surprised the practise had not been banned in this time of swine flu), and post-dinner drinks in the Senior Common Room.

It was as if we had never left……..and, certainly, student accommodation had not moved on much in the past twenty five years:

The shower was 6 floors down. The toilet was down the corridor. There were no posters of the girl with the tennis ball or Madonna (Like a Virgin). But, thankfully, there was still a sink to piss in. It had been a late night and the drink had flowed. Somehow I had forgotten that the College clock chimed every fifteen minutes from 06.30. I was rudely reminded in the morning. But, it did not dampen my memories of a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

I am glad that:

a) I still remembered which knife and fork to use

b) None of my former girlfriends were in attendance (although he with whom she had the affair bloody was – I had been tempted to send her his photo. He is not wearing well…….)

c) I am blessed with good friends.


Entry filed under: childhood memories, middleman, Oxford. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Memory Lane – part 1 Memories of Christmas Past

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  December 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    It really is about time you let her go…….


    • 2. Middle Man  |  December 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

      Dear Anonymous stalker……

      I am well over her. But, it WAS funny seeing the other guy. Now I may be no oil painting but he would be at home in a Picasso portrait…. 😉


  • 3. Anonymous  |  December 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Indeed! He didn’t look that great last time I saw him either!



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