Alex's Report on the 2011 Reunion

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Alex emailed this to everyone on the day after the event, so you will have read it before. It's recorded here for posterity!

Yesterday dawned bright as it has done most days of these past few weeks in England. Indeed some must have got up at dawn to train journey up to London for our 50th Anniversary Luncheon in the Royal Air Force Club.

As Dave C and I (and our better halves) had got there early to ensure that all was as it should be, we were able to greet and count us all in from midday. Of course it is always a pleasure to see the 'regulars' at reunions and it is no reflection on anyone to suggest that the pleasure increases with the years-since-last-seen. And on this occasion we had some 'fresh' (?) faces to say, "Hallo, and what have you been up since we last met?" Namely Tony Mahon, Steve Chew, John Larbey, John Rooum and Perv.

Priority was established with the bar immediately to hand on entering the Ballroom. Dave had resourcefully procured the four squadron photographs snapped in July, 1961, which were mounted to one side of the room for our ladies to see what handsome young chaps we were (as some still are but not the young bit). Paddy Hughes brought along his albums including photographs of Cranwell days. A picture of the College was projected on a screen set up at the other end of the oblong seating layout.

Thanks to Dave's connections we were lucky enough to have a professional photographer for free – Jamie Lancaster –snapping away during the Reception. (His photographs and our amateur efforts should appear on the website in due course).

I remember that when we were the not-invited flight cadets we used to aptly describe the College Hall Sunday Receptions as "rhubarb and soda water bottles". It must have sounded like that but with much, much more bonhomie, fun and laughter. Time came to move to our places at table.

Dave supplied his own gavel set which had been made by a fingerless 'guinea pig'. First time I have wielded such kit and I was most impressed by the effect banging it has on people, on the table that is – I could get used to it. After padre Dave recited his original and in parts poetic grace we proceeded through terrine, chicken and profiteroles.

Conversations flowed and never ebbed. Does anyone notice what they are eating when in charming company?

Time came to swing my gavel again. It was my greatest pleasure to propose the 'Loyal Toast' and, in turn, 'Our Ladies' (without whom we would be lesser men).

As one or two of the gang were on starting blocks, I banged my gavel and announced a ten-minute break. Actually one who shall remain nameless had jumped that starting pistol a few minutes before.

We came back and I said a few words to be followed by John Cheshire proposing 'Absent Friends', and Bill Samuel 'The Entry'. Both made moving and amusing speeches perfectly befitting the toasts to raise our glasses to.

To finish off at table the 'Billy Joel' video flashback of the last second half-century's memorable events and personalities was played back on the screen.

As many were still thirsty, we crossed the corridor to the 'Victoria Bar' and by time we left I was glad to be steered home by Cheryl.

My picture of Sam, and Perv in most expansive style captures the mood.

Perv and Sam

Till the next time, if not before. Whatever that means!


PS: The Entry made it in the today's Daily Telegraph 'Court and Social' too:

Daily Telegrapph Notice

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