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The Craxford Family Magazine Tartan Pages

{$text['mgr_tartan1']} Reunions 1a

ST ANDREWS REUNION 2009: A Report

CONTRIBUTORS: Alan D. Craxford, Christopher Morris, Ken Freshwater, Jim Fenwick and Diana Kennaugh

Introduction

Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

The Old Course Hotel

The weekend of the 5th and 6th of November 2009 saw the forty year reunion of the Class of '69 medical graduates from the University of St Andrews. Trailed at the reunion in Mauritius in 2004 and confirmed in Kinsale in 2007, the Class was to return to home soil and meet in the Kingdom of Fife. Late on in the preparations it was announced that a rival convention (the G20 Group of Finance Ministers) was to descend upon the town. The east coast of Scotland had seen storms, heavy rain and flooding in the week prior to the event, but the party was determined that neither of these would intrude on or dampen the celebrations.

During the weekend, 83 alumni and their spouses, congregated for the festivities at the Old Course Hotel. Class members started arriving after midday on the Friday. After checking in and exploring the environs, a light lunch could be taken in the Jigger Inn or tea taken in the Road Hole Bar on the fourth floor. Through the afternoon new arrivals would encounter old acquaintances in the foyer, the library, the grounds or even in the swimming pool or spa where recognition was difficult semi-naked! .

The Welcome

The presentation
The Hall of Champions
Sue Milburn reads a poem

L: Presentation to John Orr; Centre: Assembly in The Hall of Champions; R: A poem reading

The official opening of the reunion was to be a drinks reception scheduled for 7:30pm on the Friday evening followed by a buffet supper. Dress was declared to be smart casual. Around the appointed time, guests wended their way along the long and winding ground floor corridor to the foyer of the Hall of Champions which was located towards the back of the hotel. One correspondent thought he was on a mystery tour as he had walked so far and wondered if he had reached Leuchars! After an initial greeting and a suitable supply of liquid refreshment, Jim Fenwick described a dinner that he and about twenty others had attended at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh on the previous Thursday evening as guests of John and Lisa Orr. John has been President of the College for the last three years and his term closes shortly. He presented John with a painting depicting a plan of the town of St. Andrews to mark the occasion. Sue Milburn then lightened the tone of the proceedings by reading a poem.

Buffet supper

The buffet supper

Ken Freshwater welcomes the guests

The welcome

Everyone was ushered through into the main hall. Seating arrangements were on an ad hoc basis at tables around the periphery of the room. The superb buffet consisted of a variety of cold collations for starters, salads, a carvery service and a desserts trolley. With the evening meal out of the way, the assembled alumni were formally welcomed by Ken Freshwater who ran through the itinerary for the weekend, gave out tee times and details of the golf for participants the following day and made several other housekeeping announcements. Encouraged by calls and whistles from a number of the audience, Ken Freshwater and Doug Reid produced their guitars and proceeded to regale us with a number of songs (including one about medieval underwear) which were popular during the days of our studenthood.

The duet

Doug and Ken serenade a chastity belt, "Nonny, Nonny!!"

Golf (and other things!)

A buffet breakfast was served in the dining room adjacent to the Road Hole Bar on the fourth floor, affording spectacular views from the windows in either direction over the landscape of the Old Course.

The Old Course looking north
Breakfast
The Old Course pavillion

L: Looking north; Centre: Breakfast; R: The club house

Thirteen golfers pitched themselves against the Duke's Course at Craigton in beautiful sunny weather but in very soggy conditions under foot. The course has been lengthened considably since the '69 Alumni last played it 10 years ago and most of us were on the course for a little under 5 hours which was quite a marathon. This meant that there was plenty of time for chat which was what it was all about.

Montage of the golf tournament

Views around the links

The only serious delay occurred when Messrs Harris and Maurice found the attempts of Messrs Gilmour and Freshwater to finish the final hole somewhat amusing. So much so that Dr Maurice proceeded to "corpse" on the final green about 5 feet from the pin, a putt which he finally made after about 10 minutes of convulsions.

A good time was had by all and the winner was Ian Baird with Mike Dronfield as runner up.

For the non-aficionado or more strenuously challenged, the bright (at times dazzling) sunshine of the morning came as a welcome relief from the inclement weather that had held sway in the earlier part of the week. In twos, fours or more, small groups set off to renew acquaintance with the town. As noted above, we had been made aware that St. Andrews and its surroundings had been chosen as the venue for a summit meeting of the G20 group of finance ministers. Perhaps fortuitously the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, and his compatriots were enbunkered in a hotel and golf resort well away from us on the south side of town but a series of marches, demonstrations and other events had been organised throughout the day. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel, the police presence (mounted and on foot) was obvious across the links where they were engaged in corralling and shepherding a group of protesters who were accumulating on the West Sands. We met them again as the march wended its way though the streets of the town to a gathering in Market Street. There was no major disruption to our perambulations or sightseeing. One class member reported a nostalgic conducted tour of the Bute where ancient memories were rekindled by the smell of formalin.

Towards St Andrews across the links

Towards St Andrews


The protest march: Marchers gather on the West Sands

The Marchers gather

The police on guard in Market Street

On guard

In the afternoon two ladies dipped a proverbial toe into the pleasures of the Kohler Waters spa to take advantage of the facial therapy. They appeared to enjoy the experience but did not divulge whether "the gentle stretching and massage" had given them "a feeling of serenity and relaxation" or the "buckwheat mask" had left them "toned and hydrated". At the same time, Alan Craxford was given the keys to the Willie Park suite. Situated on a corridor beyond the Hall of Champions this provided a small conference room and connections for a laptop computer to a large screen television and the internet. He was able to demonstrate the '69 Year Club magazine and database.

The Kohler Spa booklet
The thermal spa
On display in the Willie Park suite

L: The Kohler Spa (1); Centre: The waters; R: The web site presentation



The ballroom foyer

Gathering for dinner

Added November 24th 2009
Updated: August 9th 2012

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The Dinner Dance

The reunion dinner was held in the hotel ballroom. Seating arrangements were indicated on the table plans situated on the main entrance to the dining area. The dress code was formal and many of the party donned their kilts or tartan trews. Class members began gathering in the ballroom foyer by 7:30pm for a preprandial libation and another opportunity to renew acquaintances and to exchange news. At eight o'clock precisely our attendance for dinner was announced in a stentorian voice and we trooped in to take our places. There was much scrutiny of the menu and mulling over the choice of wine. Waiters and waitresses busied themselves between the tables taking orders. Time moved on which many people filled by visiting their neighbours or taking memento photographs. Service was slow and it was nearly an hour before the first course arrived. Most were patient although one diner departed to find succour elsewhere. The delay however went unnoticed by two photographers who eventually returned to their seats to find the meal orders had already been taken.


The top table

The top table


The dining room

Seated for dinner


Eventually the starters did arrive which were greeted with relief and attacked with gusto. We do not recall grace being said.

Haggis neeps and tatties
Seafood terrine

Starters: Haggis, neeps, tatties; Seafood terrine


Duck main course
Lamb main course

Mains: Marinated duck breast; Scottish lamb

With the coffee served accompanied by a plate of petit fours, Master of Ceremonies Ken Freshwater said a few words of welcome to the Reunion Dinner and read a list of apologies and good wishes from absent friends (including David Parratt, Sandy Shepherd, Dana Wheatley (Kordelewska), Richard Turner, Tony Bayliss, John Dickson, Gus Moorcroft and Mike Leahy).

Master of ceremonies
Ian Baird receives his golf trophy

MC: Ken Freshwater presents the awards and Ian Baird receives his


A floral presentation

Fiona Freshwater is presented with a floral tribute

Some thoughts by Christopher Morris. November 2009
It has been the tradition at the reunions to sing (nay struggle!!) through the Gaudeamus (2). Sadly the late running of the dinner put the mockers on it this year (how can a 5 star "One of the Leading Hotels of the World" make such a balls up?). It also meant that I couldn't draw attention to the translations of some of the verses which are humourously if not cynically apposite to the passing of our years and the times we live in.

Little did we know as we sang verse 1 all those years ago that it translates as:

While we're young, let us rejoice,
Singing out in gleeful tones;
After youth's delightful frolic,
And old age (so melancholic!),
Earth will cover our bones.

Verse 5 is mercifully more cheerful, take your pick of these two translations;

Life is short and all too soon
We emit our final gasp;
Death ere long is on our back;
Terrible is his attack;
None escapes his dread grasp.

Verse 5 is mercifully more cheerful, take your pick of these two translations;

Long live all the maidens fair,
Easy-going, pretty;
Long live all good ladies who
Are tender and so friendly to
Students in this city.

Long live all girls
Easy and beautiful!
Long live mature women also,
Tender and lovable
Good [and] productive.

And for those of us for whom all that is just a dream we can console ourselves with our pensions and be eternally grateful to Darling Gordon Blair;

Long live our Republic and
The gentlefolk who lead us;
May the ones who hold the purse
Be always ready to disburse
Funds required to feed us

Hooray to that.


He then presented trophies to Ian Baird (a St Andrews University golf towel) and Mike Dronfield, the winner and runner up of the morning's golf tournament. Also presented was the Dodo trophy; a tournament which was started by Linda Wilkin in Mauritius. Lore has it that the previous winner must present the new winner with a trophy which has a connection with the Dodo. This year, Helen Gordon (winner in Kinsale) presented Ian with a Dodo plate. Commemorative mugs were also available for those who wanted one. Then a vote of thanks was given to our hosts for their long and hard work in organising the event. Fiona Freshwater was presented with a basket of orchids.

Speechmaker of honour for the occasion was Brian Docherty. Doc', as usual, regaled us with a memorable (if not memorisable) speech, although with his advancing years and fazed by the technology it wasn't clear whether he was making it up. But then, with Doc, would we ever know?? He produced a laptop as an aide memoire but kept losing his place. He caused considerable mirth with his account of asking the hotel management if they could provide Powerpoint only to be shown the socket in the wall. He produced a cornucopia of distinctly non-technological objects (a plastic duck, a fishing net and a Tesco till receipt) like a magician out of his hat to illustrate a variety of points. Audience participation was well to the fore as he had given each table a kazoo to blow to provide feedback on his performance.

It was time for the dance. The band called "Eclipse" (3, 4), three young kilted lads from Wick, made the night for us. (We'll call them young because all lads look young to us now. It used to be the bobbies, then the housemen, but when the new consultants started looking like medical students we realised we were on the downhill slope!) The electric guitarist was brilliant, the drummer manically whacky (and wearing crocs), the keyboard player switching to piano accordion for the traditional Scottish dances. There were loads of 60s rock and roll to remind us of our mis-spent youth (actually most of us seem to have done quite well out of it) and give us a chance to rediscover some long forgotten muscles/joints/ligaments and assess our exercise tolerances. We marvelled at the transformation of Pete Semple into a rubber jointed maniac and feared for Sandra Calderwood as he demonstrated centrifugal (or centripetal - is there a difference?) force - spinning her round in the Orkney Reel. Luckily she didn't fly off at a tangent. The night closed with an eclectic (even electric) "Auld Lang Syne".



The dancers

"Take your partners!"



Will ye no' come back again

Ken and Fiona: The '69 Club salutes you! Congratulations on your hard work and excellent organisation. We thank you for a marvellous weekend, an enjoyable programme, good company and superb surroundings. We may not appreciate fully the trials and tribulations you may have faced along the way but hope in time that you too will remember the event with a nostalgic glow of a job well done.

Another reunion is consigned to the archives. And, inevitably, thoughts will turn to both the passage of time and the future. No strong hints of dates or rumours of candidate venues have been heard for REUNION 201X. 2012? 2014? A penny for them ..., anyone ... ??

There is also a St Andrews Reunion gallery of photographs of people and events.



References

1. A Kohlers Experience: The Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, Scotland
2. Words of Gaudeamus Igitur Town Gown and Tradition: Then and Now The '69 Club Forty Years On!
3. Eclipse: A three piece band from Caithness - A Newspaper article: The Leisure Room: John O'Groats Journal June 20th 2007
4. "Never Say Goodbye": Eclipse CD (with samples) MusicScotland.com

Internet Beacon Diamond Site - 2010

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