Saturday, 13 February 2016

OC Dinner

Last night I attended the Old Campbellians' annual dinner at the College.

Campbell College stands in about seventy acres, I imagine, off Belmont Road, Belfast.

My old pal Dangerfield (!) called me earlier in the day and offered to collect me.

A lively fire was blazing in the vestibule, where we met the President of the society, Bill McKelvey.

Having relieved myself of the overcoat, we made a beeline for the makeshift bar which was located in the central hall.

I rather enjoy these reunions, seeing old, familiar faces again.

I had a good chin-wag with Richard Sholdis, whose family once lived in the Mourne Mountains beside Spence's River.

I reminisced about my uncle's cottage, the well in the moor behind it, how we obtained water with a metal pail; and when the Sholdises arrived, how they let us use their outside tap for fresh water.

The good old days!

I was pally with his younger brother, David.

Eventually we all trooped in to the dining-hall, a large chamber with a lofty, vaulted ceiling.

Needless to say, the grub was good; the company, convivial.

Our guest speaker was Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE, QPM, Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1996 until its demise in 2001.

I met Sir Ronnie earlier in the evening and recounted an anecdote about Sir John Hermon, OBE, QPM, a predecessor of his in the RUC.

As a matter of fact, as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), Sir Ronnie is the third most highly decorated person in Northern Ireland, afte the Duke of Abercorn, KG, and the Right Rev the Lord Eames, OM.


Christopher Bellew said...

I think Lord Eames OM deserves a mention.

Johnny Andrews said...

Sorry to miss always good evening.Traditions important and welcoming Campbell coal fire a great memory symbolising an important anchor of stability for old Campbellians

Anonymous said...

No Loyal toast? Wouldn't pass muster at Northern Ireland's premier school on College Square East.

Timothy Belmont said...

Christopher, you're right; I ought to say I was waiting for somebody to spot that, like Captain Mainwaring.

Lord Eames came into my head yesterday morning and for some reason I omitted his position as a Member of the Order of Merit.

I'll amend the post forthwith.

Timothy Belmont said...

Anon, I shall defer to your perspicacious observations; though I thought there was a loyal toast. Perhaps this point could be clarified? There has always been amicable rivalry between Campbell and Northern Ireland's "premier school" (!)

Anonymous said...

I think you will find that neither school is "premier" any more - being roundly outscored by Catholic Grammar Schools. It says a lot for the changes in Northern Ireland society.

Timothy Belmont said...

Anon, that's precisely why I don't indulge in petty point-scoring; apart from general standards today of literacy, or should I say, demi-literacy.

Many teachers do not seem to have heard of the Split Infinitive, for instance.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the play Waiting for Godot last night in Armagh city , written by a long time ago Campbell College teacher in the years before he moved to Paris to continue his writing. Samuel Beckett of course uttered the infamous phrase to sum up what he thought of Campbell students which I'm sure Lord Belmont would totally disagree with. Maybe Beckett didn't teach long enough at Campbell to come to a fairer description of it's studentship.

Anonymous said...

Lord Belmont may or may not frequent the Public House for his weekend tipple but one old Campbellian who has made a successful career establishing one of the most successful British Pub chains is that giant of the British Pub trade - one Tim Martin. His Wetherspoons chain is even listed on the Stock Exchange. Tim regularly makes a point of visiting his pubs personally and I got to speak to him on a visit he made to his Belfast pub opposite the BBC in the city centre. He still holds the view that a pub should have good Ale as well as good food in a noise free environment ( no music or sound allowed from the television in a Wetherspoons pub ) the story of where he got the idea of the name J.D. Wetherspoon can remain for another time , or if you happen to rub shoulders sometime with Mr. Martin just ask him to tell you.