O.D. Dinner – June 12th 1920.
On Saturday, it was a great pleasure to be able to welcome back to the School a great gathering of Old Dragons. I am delighted to say that the events of the day have been recorded by one of our company, who prefers to remain anonymous!
“The Senior Old Boys’ Dinner (‘the first since 1914’ as the carte d’invite said) took place in the School Hall on Saturday June 12, 1920, according to plan, at 7.30.
Photo at 7.15, according to plan; showers, noon to 7.00 p.m.; downpour, 7.16 p.m.; the interval, no doubt, pre-arranged by the School authorities…
It was a magnificent gathering of 116 or 160, or perhaps 1,600 Old Boys, including representatives of all the First Families such as Tyrwhitt, Townsend, Johnson, Holland, Mayhew, Taylor, Spurling etc. – even men who were boys before the Skipper knew the difference between a centreboard and a centrebit, or between Capri and Chianti. ‘Fancy that!’ as Ibsen’s characters always remark when a divorce or murder in the family is announced.
Orders and decorations were worn, mostly on the left pap, where the heart doth hop; but some Old Boys preferred to tie them round their necks. These, we noted, were chiefly those who had lived in India and other light-fingered countries, so no doubt the precaution was instinctive. Be that as it may, the room glowed and gleamed with polychromatic ribbon and tinkling symbols of valour and prowess.
The menu was well chosen, the courses numerous and costly, the liquor generous, and the conversation consequently consecutive, but not subsequently inconsequent.
After the loyal toast, and the reading by the Skipper of the School’s Roll of Honour, he was again on his feet to give the health of his Old Boys in one of those magnificent characteristic speeches where spasmodic recollection of disjointed portions of the prepared speech (when the note happens to be decipherable) is periodically annihilated by a spontaneous heart-felt outpouring of the Skipper’s own colloquial, breezy, generous speech. He threw in, of course, as an afterthought, the usual time-worn plea that he should not be referred to in subsequent speeches…
But what, may we ask, is Home without a Mother? What Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark? ‘Quelle idee!’ as a naval officer sitting near me remarked under his breath, when he heard this request enunciated by the man he had come – we had all come – to see and hear and talk about.
Walter Moberly was in very good form, and having said a few nice things about the School, turned frankly to the subject closest to our hearts and spoke at length and in detail about the Skipper, whose health really got drunk at the end instead of the School’s. The general opinion was that the School was quite able to look after its own health…
It was a great occasion, medicine for the spirit of the middle-aged pessimist and a vast stimulus to the wiser optimist. It is good to come home and find a welcome there, and go away humbled with the lesson that even the worst of us must have been good once.”