A School Reunion In Newcastle

The years of 1956/57/58 saw some of the first pupils arrive at a very new grammar school, which had been built to serve an area to the north east of Newcastle.

It felt very special to be amongst the first to use the new desks, the Bunsen burners in the chemistry lab, the cookers in the Domestic Science room, the new gym equipment and of course, the new dining hall and assembly hall too.

The majority of staff members wore the flowing black gowns that most teachers only wear on their day of graduation these days, and this in itself created an aura about them that commanded respect----as did the flying chalk and the dreaded blackboard duster, which wasn't the soft yellow thing your mum used to dust the house, but a large wooden block with a fuzzy side which was guaranteed to be on the reverse side when it made contact, if you didn't duck in time!

These days, when it is difficult to recognise the difference between pupil and staff member, particularly when a uniform is not worn; the height and size of pupils is greater than that of staff members, and the familiarity in addressing a member of staff by their Christian name is deemed acceptable, I feel respect has taken a back seat----call me old fashioned!!!!!!

Last Saturday night, a group of around forty of us met up for an evening of reminiscing and catching up on each others lives, travels, families and the inevitable woes that afflict those of us of advancing years, and it was a very good evening indeed.

Doug, who takes it onboard every year to contact everyone and arrange a suitable venue, does a fantastic job and has a wit that shines through and creates much laughter when he calls our attention to those who have sent apologies at not being able to join us, reads out brief messages from former pupils living far and wide who wish to be remembered to one and all, and relays greetings from our former late headmaster's wife---who is now 98 years old---with whom he keeps in touch and up to date on all our proposed meetings.

It was a pleasure to see amongst us again, two members of staff who have joined us over the last few years, and a message from another who was visiting his son in Canada.

The two present had both taught me, one English language and English literature-(didn't do too badly in these two subjects), and the other taught me French--- and on this occasion I have to admit I didn't shine quite so well, but could get by if needs must, ho ho!

There were a handful of people who attended last night who I hadn't seen for over 50 years or more. I am not sure if it was the fact we had all been adorned with stickers with our names printed on them ( maiden names for those females who wed) that made it easy to recognise them, or if it was the fact that they simply "hadn't changed at all".

As the majority of us are now retired, it was interesting to learn how others are spending their time and what they get up to. Olive is a fantastic artist who has had a book of some of her work printed and is now aspiring to organize a showing of her works in a suitable venue. Nigel, from the year above me had leaflets with him advertising his book on Buddhism, which is to be published later this month, and many others had stories to tell of their travels far and wide which, when not being called upon to do child minding duties, seemed to be the preferred form of rest and relaxation by most.

A very nice buffet was provided, and access to a bar in the function room we used was very convenient, and as most of us had a designated driver, a lift arranged or taxi booked, it was put to good use----I managed two G and T's in the three and a half hours I was there and then discovered that they had been double measures, hmm. Fortunately, I can report that there were no adverse affects the following morning---now I am not too sure if that is something I ought to be worried or pleased about!

A great evening was had by all and here's to the next annual school reunion of GSGS. Attached is a photograph of me with a very good friend Mike, who I even used to meet up with when I lived in Hong Kong when he visited on business.

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