Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heed the Golden Rule of the Reunion

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heed the Golden Rule of the Reunion

Article excerpt


THE first rule of reunions is this: never, ever accept an invitation to one unless you have pre-arranged a quorum of congenial friends to shelter you from the crashing bores who are drawn to such events like moths to a flame.

Luckily, I had taken this precaution on Saturday night or I would have ended up sharing dinner with quite possibly the most boring man in the world and three of his almost equally dull friends. A scenario which would, by around halfway through the first course, almost certainly have pushed me over the edge in quite spectacular fashion.

As it was, I also had three of my old chums within shouting distance, though I would have greatly benefited from an old-fashioned ear trumpet, as sported by Evelyn Waugh.

The occasion for which we were all gathered was a dinner at my college in Cambridge, which every few years invites its old students back for dinner, chiefly to remind us of the debt of gratitude we owe to it and might like to think about repaying.

Wills were probably uppermost in their minds on this occasion, given that their oldest guest had come up in 1934 and celebrated his 95th birthday on Sunday, while the youngest was me or one of my contemporaries from the intake of 1972.

Consequently, this was an all-male and pretty much all-white occasion or grey, in the case of hair. Even so, the guest speaker might have slightly misjudged his audience when he spoke of our shared memories of the war and national service, and ventured that "even the youngest amongst us have entered the grandparent generation". I fear that my resultant cry of "Not me, mate!" might well have been a serious breach of etiquette.

Now, the reason for bringing this up is that I have met many people who consider that they or their children have missed out on one of life's most glittering prizes by failing to get into Oxbridge. …

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