A review of Reunion Weekend 2007 by 'Repeating Digiter' Nigel Pike (BA Economic Studies 1969; MSc Transport Engineering 1973).
We established the Repeating Digits Reunion in the 1960s, and so the 7.7.77, 8.8.88 and 9.9.99 reunions took place at the height of summer and included a trip down to the beach. We calculate that the next time a Repeating Digits Reunion coincides with reasonable weather won't be until 5.5.55, by which time we will be 107 years old and will probably prefer to stay in the pub. And so it was that Reunion Weekend 2007 provided a summer opportunity for us to reunite before the next official date of 1.1.11, and of course, before the Grim Reaper reaps any more of us. We are, after all, knocking on a bit.
Despite the torrential rain, it was a great day, and started with the Convocation. We had not attended a Convocation since 1977, and in those days the University put on a massive buffet accompanied by unlimited beer and strawberry tarts. For 2007, we found to our dismay that the massive buffet had been reduced to ‘finger food’, and the unlimited beer and strawberry tarts were entirely absent (Alumni Office please note), but instead of having to sit through a boring congregation, we were treated to an excellent speech by the Vice-Chancellor. This made up somewhat for the lack of beer, and the Vice-Chancellor's glowing presentation of the University's improved financial performance gave us some hope that decent food, beer and strawberry tarts may be reinstated in the future (note that we are getting rather elderly, so sooner rather than later, please).
After that it was ‘on-on’ for some of us to the Eustace Percy Reunion, which brought back happy memories of that grim institution with its porters (all of whom were either elderly or disabled and weren't in a position to ‘port’ anything), ‘formal dinners’, bromide-treated tea, the legendary ‘Miss Jones’ who tore pin-up pictures off our walls, and the thoroughly bad behaviour that we all indulged in at the time to try and cheer the place up.
Then there was a bit of a gap in proceedings – the Union bars are still not open in the afternoons, it seems – so we filled the gap by means of a trip to the Hotspur. (It would have been more aptly filled by the historic Haymarket pub, but the University pulled that down many years ago to build er... absolutely nothing... in its place.) That generated an appetite for the BBQ which was sensibly moved out of the rain into the Union Building. No complaints there – terrific food, plenty of it, which certainly made up for the Convocation starvation rations. And what a change for the better inside the Union! On 9.9.99, the nice open-plan layout had been reduced to a ghastly rabbit warren of nooks and crannies. Now the more spacious layout is back, even if a little bit over-the-top: the old Oak Room has gone. The BBQ turned out to be the focus of our reunion, and the lovely Maria was on hand to welcome us and make sure that all our needs were taken care of. As it turned out, we all managed to stumble about without assistance and not one of us had to be rushed to hospital.
The day finished with what was dubbed ‘Brighton Beach’, which turned out to be a disco in the former refectory. One look at the thousands of teenage binge-drinkers queuing up might have deterred the faint-hearted, but not the stern stuff from which the Repeating Digit-ers are made. We joined in with gusto, out-drank many of them, and despite the massive age gap between our group and the majority of revellers, we were treated with unexpected politeness. Doors were opened for us, places in the bar queues were given up to us. They chatted, offered us cigarettes, posed for photographs with us – quite extraordinary. We were obviously curiosities, but perhaps they thought we were visiting lecturers. Well I suppose we were, in a way.
No night out in Newcastle is complete without a walk back home at 2.30am in the pouring rain, which we did, in the absence of public transport or any possibility of getting a taxi, just like old times. Marvellous.
Thank you, Alumni Office, for organising everything and giving us a great day. We would like to award you a solid 9 out of 10. To get that extra point – you've guessed it! – beer, strawberry tarts, and please get the Haymarket pub rebuilt by next year. Thank you very much! We'll be back.
published on: 24th August 2007
Return to Arches