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2008 : City Lunch Review

2008 City Lunch Review

28th February 2008 went into my diary as just ‘WOBS Lunch’ which caused some concern among my work colleagues as they speculated as to what this stood for.  Having left Worth in ’76 (that’s 1976…) and having had embarrassingly little to do with the school that coaxed me through O’s, A’s and some turbulent teenage years, I confess I found myself speculating too.  Would I recognise anyone after 27 years adrift?  Who would be there and would I owe any of them money??

The sharp early spring sunshine bathed the city as I walked to Bow Wine Vaults in the heart of Cheapside.  The restaurant’s cellar (more cosy than cavernous) quickly filled with WOBS of all ages, shapes and sizes and since a Worth old boy and the bar are not long distant from each other, any rules relating to weekday lunchtime drinking were soon dispatched…

Peering from the midst of the gathering as I arrived was the unfeasibly youthful figure of Father Kevin who had given up the day to join us – and very welcome he was too.  Being a Butler boy (your very good health, Mr Owers) I was not instantly recognized by Fr Kev, and he had to take a long and very hard look before he worked out who I was.  But WOBS is a lot to do with keeping touch and after greetings were exchanged I discovered he shared a birthday with my older brother James, and had exchanged cards with him for most of the 32 years since school.  A testimony to both Fr Kevin and the power of the WOBS network.

It quickly became clear that 1976, or thereabouts, was very well represented; Mark Simpson, a brace of Breens (Mark – ‘76 and Richard ‘74), Mike Berkeley,Nick Barnettand the ebullient Steve Noel-Hill all graced the event, which boasted a two-generation attendance from the Pollens (Richard ‘64 and Andrew ’00) – a WOBS first.  The mood was spirited and convivial and all appeared fit, prosperous and surprisingly hirsute…

Proceedings were ably herded by WOBS ChairmanNick Butterworth.  Nick, now CEO at property consultancy Jackson Stops, gave an informal address which included an obit to Fra Andrew Bertie, sadly recently deceased.  He would have been proud to hear the Tibetan morning song ringing through the vaults from those that could a) sing and b) remember it.  Bertie’s accompanying plug-in, taps-on wake-up calls were as unwelcome then as they were effective, but along with his so many other talents and his irrepressible and Sahara-dry humour, he was very fondly remembered.

WOBS manages to tread the line between business and social network, grapevine and Charitable Trust so the availability of new merchandise in the form of a new WOBS tie and cufflinks which goes towards funding were gracefully presented by Simon McMenemy.

An excellent meal was brought forth and the event went off without a hitch.  Many cards were produced and within hours emails were already being exchanged and memberships renewed.  Will I come again? You bet.  And those others from ‘76 who are in my address book and who haven’t reconnected (Franks? Holditch?..) will be getting an invite too.

John Griffith (B’76)