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Friday, 6 March 2015

Milestones

Last year was one of those 'milestones' in life in a number of ways. It was the fiftieth anniversary of my finishing my 'formal' schooling. It marked the point at which I found myself launched, unprepared and without a map or a compass into the world of 'work'. I don't think I was the only one to have that feeling as we walked out of the school gates for the last time as pupils. For myself, beyond some vague ideas about becoming a priest (I'd passed the selection process, but been told I had to first work for three years), doing - perhaps - military service (it was on a ballot system) or 'going to sea' somehow, I'd not the faintest idea of what sort of 'work' I could do, let alone look for. University was not an option, my parents couldn't afford it, and even had they been able to, I managed to NOT pass the key subject, Mathematics.

As I quickly discovered, that limited my options quite considerably. I got lucky, my father's boss arranged for me to be interviewed by Barclays Bank, and much to my surprise, they hired me. So last month saw me report for my first day at work in the Main Street Branch - which was a Regional Head Office - of Barclays Bank DCO. I worked for them for three years, and I think it is true to say that was long enough to know I didn't suit banking. A spell trying to explore my vocation at Theological College ended in my taking a post as a travel agent as I simply did not have the support necessary to survive three years with no income. I tried sales (my grandfather ran his own 'agency' business, but I wasn't working for him), I tried clerical, the civil service (Customs and Excise) and I tried the fire service.

Fifty years, three marriages and three children (all from the first) later I look back on a career that now spans two continents and covers a little over 36 years between South Africa and the UK. It has taken me to the Romania, Poland, Kazahkstan, the US, the Caribbean, West Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. It also led to my eventually meeting and marrying my wife.

As I sat on the benches at the Founder's Day Ceremony at Selborne College last October I could not help but marvel at how much I've experienced, and how much I've seen and done since that day in 1964 that I walked out of the Lukin Road gate for the last time. I was saddened to learn how many of my former school mates were no longer with us, astonished at the journey many more have made, and delighted to see around thirty of them at the reunion. Here are some photos ...

The School's War Memorial, installed in 1920 to commemorate the former Old Boys who died in 1914 - 18. They fell in France, Belgium, Turkey, East Africa and in various oceans as well. The list enlarged to include 1939 - 45 and the subsequent 'Bush Wars'.

The Ceremony of the Key. Each year a representative of the incoming Matriculation Class is selected by his fellow pupils as the next 'Custodian of the Key' and the Changing of the Guard on the Memorial is marked by the handing over of the Key. The Ceremony has been performed since 1921 and the boys parading for this are now entirely volunteers.

Probably the only mark of my passage through the school. I subscribed to a campaign to raise money for the future of the school, so my name appears beneath my father's and above that of a friend I made in 1957. My 'Old Friend', as he likes to remind me ... OK, OK, so he's six months my senior ...

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