School Reunion

Day 2. 24 pages, 10,818 words.

I attended my Class of 1995 20-year reunion while we were in Perth. Having missed the 10-year reunion of 2005 – I had been of the opinion that it was too soon and I really wanted a few guys to go bald before I went back there – I felt that it was about time to go ahead and see how it all went. So, after a lot of faffing around and organisation, we held the reunion on a Friday. Starting with school assembly and a tour in the morning, it was agreed that we would all meet up in the school dining room for food and drinks in the evening, and reminisce about the Good Old Days.

In case that previous paragraph didn’t tip you off, I went to a fancy school. Scotch College is one of those classic all-boys private schools in the British model, all houses and prefects and – at least back in the Junior School in the ’80s – the occasional good old-fashioned teacher-on-boy whuppin’. The teachers wore black robes on special occasions, we called them “sir” or “miss” (the teachers, not the robes), and everybody called one another by their surnames. It’s like Hogwarts, without the girls or magic. Yeah, good times.

This is the band in which I learned to play the bagpipes. They play every Friday morning to march the boys into school assembly. They march house by house and at the end of assembly they are awarded points according to which house marched the best. Ten points to Gryffindor.

And it’s only gotten fancier since I left. Heck, in my last couple of years at Scotch College, our library was a giant hole in the ground and all the books were stacked up in a couple of spare English classrooms. They finished the new library about a month before we finished Year 12, so we didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it.

Now, they have a giant IT department that they share with the neighbouring girls’ college, and the library itself is going digital. The boys have elaborate check-in systems on their laptops or iPads.

Seriously.

That’s right, iPads.

Each Senior School boy has a laptop. The Junior School and Middle School boys have iPads. This is what they work on these days. The school board is planning to go completely textbook-free in the next five years. So all the boys will need to carry will be their laptops, and – if they’re like me – a giant bag of hockey goalie equipment. But seriously, that library was something else.

School library

I also love the decorations they have in there. I only wish the school houses could be renamed to Stark, Baratheon, Greyjoy, and so on.

The woodwork and metalwork shop has extractor fans and a plasma cutter. The art room has a 3D printer. A 3D PRINTER.

3D printer. Seriously.

I’m not kidding. It’s even called a replicator.

The school also still has its share of wisenheimers, I was pleased to see.

Please touch.

These sorts of practical jokes will be a thing of the past when they finally get rid of these hopelessly-outmoded whiteboards and go to full projector or smart-screen technology.

Well, anyway, I was very impressed with the school. I was saddened by the fact that they had done away with the old lollipop lady who used to help kids cross the road between the Junior and Senior Schools, although the 20 million dollar underpass they now have instead is super-impressive. Apparently they had plans for a far cheaper overpass that was going to connect to the upper storeys of the now-Middle School, but the locals complained. So they made an underpass and dug up everyone’s gas and electrics and took years. Checkmate, locals.

I was also something of a sideshow myself, as the representative of the Old Scotch Collegians (that’s the exclusive club of which I am a member) showed us around. He kept on introducing me to people, pausing for a beat, and then telling them I was James Hindle’s younger brother. Which, you know, is true.

For a bit of background, James Hindle is my ten-years-older-than-me brother. He was Head Boy of the school a few years before I arrived there and was something of a folk hero, at least as far as the teachers were concerned. I must have been a grave disappointment to them, with my lack of sporting flair and disinterest in academic work that didn’t include drawings of aliens (and that was most of it, really). My brother also now works at the school, which was why the Old Scotch Collegians rep kept on telling everyone I was his brother. Apparently it was hilarious because I looked like a Viking.

I wasn't really dressed like this for the tour.

Which is hardly fair.

As a further amusing anecdote, my brother later told me that after our tour and as the school day progressed as normal, he had been told by several of the boys that there had been a group of Old Boys wandering around the classrooms, and one of them had had really long hair and a totally cool beard. They didn’t believe him when he told them that had been his little brother. Talk about your hilarious full-circle. Of course, I always knew I was cool.

Later in the evening we all gathered again for the reunion. Only five or six guys had come along for the tour, and we got along more or less okay. It was interesting to see that at least one of them – who shall remain nameless – had clearly overcome much greater issues than I had felt, in order to come back to the school and face his demons. But now, on the night, there were about fifty of us from the class of ’95. I think that was about one third of the total actual class number, but it was a big crowd.

I drank about six beers in a very short period of time, and meandered around the room shaking hands and letting guys read my name tag and saying “yes, it really is me” and “well I live in Finland so I have to look like a Viking” and “I write instruction manuals” and “two girls, five years old and sixteen months”. I think for the 40-year reunion[1], we should all just write some basic stuff on big cards – or possibly iPads or something – and stick them on our chests to cut out the drivel.

[1] I think another twenty years ought to do it. Not sure I’ll make it back for the 30-year reunion.

On the other hand, without that drivel, I really don’t think I would have had much to say to forty or forty-five of those guys.

Oh well. It was fun. The drinks flowed freely and the food was nice, and everyone was more or less civil. There was a handful of good ole boys who had clearly left school, gone down the pub, and stayed there for twenty years, but most of the rest had grown the fuck up. Not that going down the pub is bad – some of my best friends go down the pub[2] – it’s just that they hadn’t noticeably altered the manner of their doing so, or their attitudes towards things[3], or their circles of friends, or … well, anything.

[2] Heck, I built a pub in my garage so I didn’t need to go down the pub.

[3] When I heard one of them refer to someone anecdotally as “faggot”, I knew that a tragic case of emotional bonsai had taken place. Emotional bonsai is when you keep your mind in a tiny little box and your mates helpfully cut off all the bits that start to grow out of it. It’s very sad, and should probably be illegal.

Some of the guys, though, it was genuinely wonderful to see. It was great to chat with some of the old Junior School crew, and there were a half-dozen teachers along for the ride (or more accurately the free booze) so it was nice to talk to some of them as well. Remarkably, I spent quite a long time talking to my old maths teacher, and listening to the long rambling stories of one former classmate who had just decided to not settle down or work nine-to-five but had instead toured Germany and made a music album. Good for him.

After having a long bulldust session at the school, we walked across to the Claremont Hotel, formerly known as the Red Rock, formerly known as the Continental, formerly known as That Place Those Girls Got Abducted And Murdered From In The ’90s, formerly known as the Claremont Hotel again. The bulldust continued, and for some unfathomable reason we decided to go to ludicrous lengths to drink bottle after bottle of Mumm champagne just because they were selling it (due to a computer glitch) for $50 a bottle instead of $75 a bottle.

Yeah, that’s the sort of crowd I’m talking about. I mentioned this was a fancy school, right?

Mumm's the word.

Joe Bennett (drunk and affectionate, it’s worth noting the double drinks in his hands, very nicely done) and Paul Nelson (ringleader of the Big Booze Plan).

I personally would have thought twice about spending $20 a bottle on the stuff – champagne’s not really my thing – but I guess it was nice enough. After about an hour, as the bar staff got increasingly hostile[4], I realised I didn’t actually want to drink Mumm, so I switched to Beam and coke, and fuck you very much.

[4] For some strange Claremont-related reason, the only bar in the area was closing at midnight and nobody was very happy that 50 upper-middle-class blokes had flooded into the totally empty bar and commenced to throwing money at the bartenders. Oh well. Guess they didn’t get into this business to exchange alcohol for money.

By the way, did you know that there’s a bar in Innaloo that has Canadian Club and dry ginger on tap? Why did I not find out about this sooner and why did we not go there? Actually, I know the answer to that. It’s because the bar was in Innaloo and if fifty Old Scotch Collegians had gone to a bar in Innaloo, forty-five of them would have been fatally glassed in the first ten minutes. And while that probably would have made the 40-year reunion more bearable and may even have put the 30-year reunion back on the table, it would have been a dreadful waste of human life.

Aah, I complain and snipe and wise off, but they were a fun crowd for the night.

Nelson, Tuckey, Wong

Paul Nelson, Nathan Tuckey and Terrence Wong. Wong hasn’t aged a day in the past 20 years.

When midnight rolled around, Nathan Tuckey (our old House Captain) started chanting about going to the Hip-e-Club[5], the bouncers none-too-gently escorted Lindsay Marley to the doors to a round of applause and cheers, and the police started strolling around outside, I decided it was time for me to go home. I strolled off, planning on walking all the way – but then I happened to spot a taxi.

[5] I had no idea the Hip-e-Club was still a thing. Kudos, I guess, for nightclub longevity.

I’m not very good at Perth taxis, because when I lived in Perth they were just so rare it wasn’t worth getting good at them. Plus, some of them were apparently serial killers but I wasn’t in the danger demographic. Anyway, this one gave me a lift home and it only cost me $20. It was actually only $12, but I hadn’t spent all that much money and the driver and I had had a nice chat on the way home, so I told him to keep the change. The taxi driver actually wanted to be a truck driver for the mines. I do hope my $8 tip was enough to convince him that there’s more of a future in taxi driving.

Well. That was my school reunion. Lots of fun. Here’s to the next 20 years.

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4 Responses to School Reunion

  1. dreameling says:

    That was a fun and interesting read. I never realized that you actually went to one of those really fancy schools you see in the movies. How come you’re not more posh and shit, dude?

    Apparently it was hilarious because I looked like a Viking.

    Which is hardly fair.

    Holy hell, I thought that was the guy who played Benjen Stark cosplaying Thorin Oakenshield.

    Is this a new look?

    • stchucky says:

      You know how posh families have That One who fell way off the branch? Well, my family’s all Those Ones.

      But the look’s not changing. That was just a picture Mrs. Hatboy took when we were packing, and I was about to wash my hair. I have been called Jesus, Rob Zombie, Ned Stark and Thorin Oakenshield. Actually the Thorin thing was why Mrs. Hatboy laughed and took the picture, so I clearly nailed it.

  2. dreameling says:

    Actually the Thorin thing was why Mrs. Hatboy laughed and took the picture, so I clearly nailed it.

    It’s that regal nose of yours. You may be Those Ones, but clearly there’s blue blood in you (possibly dwarven). You really should take that look to the office, especially when we have Big Names visiting.

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