Monday, 24 November 2014

Reunion (Part Two)

The long, and impatiently, awaited reunion of us former pupils of Worple Road Primary School took place on Saturday night at the Victoria Tavern in (appropriately) Worple Road.

In fact it was more than a reunion of Worple Road old boys and girls, as several notable locals and good friends who had had the misfortune not to have been among Worple's golden generation but instead attended the Blue School, Isleworth Town, St. Mary's or Chatsworth also joined the party, and a truly fantastic time was had by all.

I approached the venue with a certain sense of trepidation, fearing that I would immediately be descended upon by some long-lost friend whose name I could not remember and whose face I could not recall, but who would regale me with recollections of old adventures upon which I would be expected to add pointed reflections. How would I handle such a situation? Would I blag it, politician-style? Or would I come clean and deflate my old buddy by asking who he (or she) was?

Fortunately en route to the Vic I happened upon my friend and one-time classmate Sharon Rowles, who joined me on walking into the Vic so that we could at least be embarrassed together. Once we were in there though I knew I need not have worried. It felt instantly as though I had undergone some imperfect time transhipment to a grey, slaphead and wrinkles version of a school Assembly, although in place of Fanny Kingsnorth and her piano was another friend and one-time classmate Jerry Shillingford and his turntable, thankfully with tuneful '70s chart ditties issuing forth in place of Onward Christian Soldiers.

What had seemed a surprisingly modest gathering to begin with quickly filled out and before very long both bars were bustling and the diligent and hard-working staff at times had to go some to cope with the demand, whilst all the time remaining mindful of the expectations of the small group of pub locals who were also there.

Probably a majority of those who attended were from "higher" years than myself, although there was a good range of ex-pupils involved, probably aged from about 45 to a little over 60. It was a veritable convention of the Isleworth kids who refuse to grow old.
I could make a fairly audacious attempt at a roll call of all those who came along but I would inevitably forget a few and that would come across as disrespectful, and that would be the very last thing I would want. The whole evening exuded real magic and I am deeply indebted to those whose initiative the whole thing was - in particular to Rob Campin, Katrina Mortimer and Penny Waldheim Graham - as well as to all those who simply turned up and shared the experience.

Jerry's music was thoughtfully tailored to the occasion too. Seventies disco (natch), some glam, late '60s tunes which even I, and certainly some of the older ones, would associate with their time at Worple Road School. The sounds helped everyone to feel the occasion in every possible way. With the school just along the road, albeit now knocked down and rebuilt at an adjacent site, at times I could almost smell the old school hall.

Some of those with whom I enjoyed a drink and deep and meaningful conversation were people who have never ventured far from home and whom I see on a fairly regular basis anyway. Others came up from the south coast, down from the north and across from some very exotic locations around the UK and beyond. For me having taken a ten-minute stroll from my Isleworth abode I felt strangely unworthy, although in another sense proud to have remained a custodian of the old town and of that which after all had brought us all together on this wonderful evening.

At the end of it all, needless to say, remained the dilemma of where it all goes from here. I think it was decided that we would do it again next year, and I can't see the numbers dwindling if the spirit that pervaded the Victoria Tavern on Saturday 22nd November 2014 was anything to go by. Those who for whatever reason were unable to make it along will, I am sure, welcome the opportunity to be a part of it next time around.

There is possibly no better way to conclude this story than with a short film which was actually recorded in 1965, before I began at Worple Road, but of the existence of which I had been unaware until very recently. By a pleasant coincidence the star of the film is one Sue Bowles, a good friend who was there on Saturday and with whom I was really pleased to have the opportunity to touch base.

This was Worple Road Primary School.  Enjoy.


Rodrigo said...


Alex Hance said...

Phil Andrews
A great blog on an excellent reunion.. In some cases easy to identify some but the aged part to remember others.
looking forward to the 2015 event

Alex Hance said...

a fantastic night for sure .. hope it happens again next year

ken noakes said...

What a great film! Thanks for posting it. It shows my old mate Garry Bates (the teacher) who taught at Worple from 1965-71. I taught there under Ron Blezard from 1969-1972. Phil, you were in my class, and yes you were a horror some of the time but a very bright pupil. Your big friend then was Ian Anderson.

Ken Noakes