UK Branch Secretary, Nicky Bicket reports: Little by little our liberties are being restored. I for one have had my first jab and that seems to have given Boris the confidence to lift a few restrictions as he believes — and I agree — that I no longer pose a clear and present danger to the health of the nation.
Although we're never more than seventy-two hours from a government U-Turn, I feel sure that we can now start putting dates into the diary in pen. One of these, coming up this month, is the subsidised Students' Pub Lunch on Saturday May 22nd in Oxford at the Bear Inn founded in 1242 and has one of the most impressive club and military tie collections in the country. This includes an OD tie — so see if you can find it. The lunch is not just for students. All ODs welcome. Let me know if you'd like to join by clicking HERE.
Our 2021 Annual Black-Tie Dinner is on Friday 10th September. I am delighted that well-known TV sports' presenter Gabby Logan has accepted our invitation to be our speaker. For all sorts of reasons, Gabby being but one of at least 125, it should be a bumper evening (we celebrate the ODU's quasquicentennial, remember). See more about the dinner further down in the letter.
Last month the country bade farewell to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and the next day we were shocked at the damage wrought by the fire which ripped across Devil's Peak and into UCT. Alumni and most South Africans will be watching apprehensively as plans are drawn up to rebuild what was destroyed. Spare a thought for OD JM Solomon (1903) who was the principal architect of those original UCT buildings which have been damaged.
And when you thought things couldn't get worse, your entire household of John Lewis/Peter Jones furniture drops colossally in value and appeal on the strength of Boris Johnson's pronouncement that they were a decorative nightmare. Boris, of course, is probably most qualified person in the country to pronounce on style.
The sad news of Chris Mann's (O, 1965) passing in March triggered memories of his Bishops classmates and uncovered some lesser-know facts about the man (no pun intended) — and there are many facts about him. One was that he played fly-half for the Bishops 1965 1st XV. One OD produced a photo of that team, but very little by way of recollection of who was actually in it. The clarion call went out and give or take one or two disputes triggered by memory failure, agreement was reached and the team identified. Have a look at it HERE. For more recollections about Chris, click HERE
But then ... when it seemed there was no good news in the world, Craig Foster (F, 1985) walks off with an Oscar at last month's Academy Awards for his documentary My Octopus Teacher. I am sure that we are all still tingling in the vicarious afterglow of this incredible achievement. While some would rather walk across hot coals than admit to being at Bishops, suddenly there we were stopping strangers on the street to discuss this great film as an inevitable segue into "Well, you know, Craig and I (but not the octops) were at the same school". And why wouldn't we. I have no doubt that revisionists in about fifty years time will produce some hashtag decrying underwater colonisation and species exploitation. But until then, well done Craig, Keven Smuts (O, 2004) and Barry Donnelly (B, 1998) and the octopus.
Talking of rugby photos strewn along the paths of memory lanes, I was very pleased to receive this one, the Prep 1969 U13 1st XV which that year had an unbeaten tour of Rhodesia (as it was then). If you look carefully at the picture (cropped to spotlight the more formidable section of the team) you may notice, among many more famous faces, your secretary who was included in the touring team as the linesman; the previous year as an under 12, a medical procedure put paid to what in his opinion was a promising international rugby career. We were never to know. Click on the photo to see the whole team and names..
The inclusion of the Old Andreians (alumni of St Andrew's, Grahamstown) has given yet another fillip to the ODU/Hilton/Michaelhouse alumni LinkedIn website, set up to help and ask for help — mainly for the UK, but not only — so if you are not part of the Group, do join now. Click HERE.
So as life returns to something like we remember it, stay safe. It's not over yet
To read the full Newsletter - click HERE
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The OD Union calls upon its members to submit applications for the position of Honorary Treasurer of the Union. More...