|6 Oct 2020|
Just before the restrictions were renewed, the Class of 1990 (UK) at the end of last month squeezed in a family weekend to celebrate their 30th reunion. (This celebration is in addition to the one taking place in Cape Town over the weekend of the 15th-18th October). Breaking with convention and eschewing the traditional black-tie and regimental port affair, the class made off on a glamping weekend in a field on the banks of the Thames at Henley. It turned out that the adjacent field had been taken over by an antique fair which posed the very real danger that at least one or two of the class were at risk of being mistaken by enthusiastic collectors as desirable objet d'art from the last century.
Caelim Parkes (1990O and chauffeur, below) reports:
In 1990, had you asked the 123 (not sure that’s accurate) boys of the matric class ‘Where will your 30th anniversary be’ – none would have suggested a campsite, next to the Thames within walking distance of Henley. But on a balmy late summer September weekend, there we were, a selection of the UK based ODs and their families – doing what we do best - make fire, cook meat and enjoying each other’s company.
Murray McPherson (1990W) was brave enough to suggest his Henley campsite should host the event (Embers Camping, truly excellent) – proper bell tents and blow up beds were enough to entice Neil Orpen (1990W), Gordon Robinson (1990F), Neal Arnold (1990S), James Legg (1990B), Robin Stehlik (1990B), Marc Willmott (1990B), me and Murray to bring their families out to the wilds of the countryside. Had it not been for Corona – Chris Bands (1990K), Anthony Marten (1990S), Anthony Pickering (1990F) and James Deane (1990B) would have joined. I am sure if our communication had been better, so would Matthew Gale (1990G), Stephen Larkin (1990F), Duncan Coombe (1990K) and David Tordesillas (1990K). We still managed to miss a few others based over here, I am sure.
The Friday night pizzas provided the necessary icebreaking between the families and gently checking who’s memory was intact – with games like ‘who played centre in 1989 1st XV’ to ‘How often did Gordon play centre and prop in the same game’.
Saturday brought out the SAn speedos and the Thames swim. Unaffected by the cold, the Thames was crossed. Don’t ask how many rowers only just missed them. Once revitalised by the cold and near-death experience, it was Nicky Bicket’s turn to share his years of wisdom with us at the Henley pub lunch. Pub lunches in the times of COVID are frustrating events – mostly because tech has taken over the ordering process and quite frankly that’s for the youth. I don’t recall the major points of Nicky’s wisdom – but he assures me they were meaningful [ed: they were].
A day of swimming, paddling boarding, pub and motor boating ended with the traditional fire, boerewors and adult beverages as we eased into the evening. More rehashing of big games, the BBC and general misdemeanours. Our wives still in disbelief at how many times we can tell the same story...and still find it
There was a notable lack of fathers vs kids sports events – for good reason mind you; we’re not 21 (and some of the kids are ... almost).
It’s a great bunch of guys. Every one of them was unique. It takes a little effort to get everyone around the same fire given the priorities we all have, but worth it in these challenging times.
Thank you to Murray for Embers. He knew the risks he was taking...
Here’s to the next 10 years.
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