Old Askean Annual Lunch, RAF Club, 2nd May 2019 –

The Old Askean Association Annual Lunch was held at the RAF club on Thursday 2nd May 2019. Some 50 members and guests enjoyed a splendid meal, an interesting talk from the Federation Principal Mr Alex Williamson about fostering closer liaison between the former pupils associations and the college.

This was an excellent occasion and hopefully next year there will be an even larger attendance.

 

Menu

Smoked Salmon with brown bread and butter

Roast Sirloin of Beef with Yorkshire pudding, traditional roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables

Apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla custard

Coffee and petits fours

 

 

 

View from the Heights – May 2019

  The Heights Hotel overlooks Chesil Beach and Weymouth Harbour. Since the rambling club was last here in 2006 the Olympic Rings had been constructed because, in 2012, some sailing competitions took place off the coast. Sunsets were spectacular from our dining area, and the views are outstanding.

  The first ramble was on Portland itself and involved going part way up the west side and down the east, with a path linking the two. However it appears a housing estate had been built since the guide map was devised! It took some time to navigate our way out but there was, needless to say, a pub for us to ask locals how to find the route, over drinks. The footpath appeared to be especially steep and Dennis and Roger went to investigate. As a result the rest of us waited for three walkers coming in the opposite direction who remarked on Roger’s red tie, and were greatly impressed by his correct dress code for Old Askean ramblers. He was able to tell them that the club was founded in 1889 for cycling and camping, with rambling as a lesser activity. After easy terrain it was a shock to find a small rocky ‘ravine’ to cross. As four of us arrived a woman on a horse came and plunged down and up the other side! I was helped down but, not to be outdone by a mere animal, attempted the climb on my own and fell, causing cuts and grazes to my hand and arm. I was patched up by a passing walker and we continued to the Lobster Pot near the lighthouse to eat. There were pots along much of the coastline, their position indicated by floating markers.

  Since Diana and I were staying for only a couple of rambles I looked back in my diary for memorable events in June 2006 before I was reporting for the magazine. Among them was my unsuccessful attempt to climb Pulpit Rock, on which two of my aunts were photographed near the top in 1928. The caption reads ‘Edie and Win with the wind up’! Unfortunately the quality of the picture was poor, so Uncle Harry is shown climbing instead.

  We didn’t have much joy at pubs on the rambles back then. At The Sunray the distinctly unsunny landlord wanted to charge Roger £10 for parking his car for the afternoon, even though we had eaten there. On a hot day between Higher Brockhampton and West Shalford, I was asked to prevent the leading ramblers from passing a thatched pub. Imagine our dismay when we found it had burned down a month before. Fortunately we were able to cadge water at the village hall where an event was ending.

  Having declined the five-mile walk by the River Frome, Diana and I suggested a short walk through quarries close to the hotel on our last day. Sculptors were working at one and beyond it was a sculpture park with completed figures of an elephant, octopus, lion-faced man and a grinning dog among others. On a rock face Antony Gormley had carved a human figure he called Still Falling– something I am resolved, if possible, not to do again! I will not do so in OA rambling company, anyway, since I regret that this is my last report for the magazine. Age has caught up with me.

  Back in 2006 we had sung The Sandbin outside by the War Memorial but this year, for the benefit of Diana and I, it was sung the night before this ramble and we stayed in the restaurant to sing.  

 

 

Sixteen of us assembled for ‘standing orders’ at our hotel along with Rocky a Border terrier, rescued by Hazel and Roger, previously owned by a friend who could no longer cope with him. Three more members joined us later in the week. Rocky accompanied every ramble and even appeared to lead some, but to claim that would be denigrating the skills of Dennis and Roger! 

When Bill Bryson wrote A Walk in the Woods his understated title referred to trekking in the Appalachian Mountains. However the first Rambling Club walk, a stroll through the forest, was just that. The forest was the New Forest in Hampshire and we began at Lyndhurst Heath near the hotel at Cadnam where we stayed. It was only three fairly easy miles, starting on open heathland with a single cow (an escapee?) and several ponies which would came right up to you. Once among trees navigation was difficult, but modern technology saw through to Beechen Lane and back to Lyndhurst. Presumably ‘beechen’ is the local plural of beech, as in children and oxen, and there were beech trees on both sides of the lane. 

The next day our fittest four accepted an invitation to join the New Forest Ramblers for a fiveandhalf mile ramble beginning at Millyford Bridge. Fearing I would merely stroll and hold up the others I was not one of the four. I understand there were some tricky paths with fallen trees to be negotiated, and the pace was brisk. I also didn’t take part in the slightly shorter ramble at Keyhaven by The Solent on a hot, sunny day. Those who were not taking part in any of the walks went to towns like Lymington where there are cobbled streets and the church has a huge gallery erected in 1798. There are attractive villages such as Minstead, gardens noted for azaleas and rhododendrons, Beaulieu Abbey and The National Motor Museum. 

The final ramble began at Burley which seems to be a village obsessed by witches and things occult. I usually find something historical to write about when recording Old Askean rambles and this time it was a stone rather like a milestone but placed on the edge of the village in 1802. It reads ‘Peace restored 27th March 1802. Rest and be thankful’. This refers to the fourteen months of peace, agreed at the Treaty of Amiens, during the wars with Napoleonic FranceThe path took us along a disused railway track and through Holmsley Bog which fortunately lay below road level. 

Blazers were worn for the last meal of the holiday and The Sandbin was sung more tunefully than in the recent past. Unfortunately there was no Welsh choir present to appreciate our efforts. Jenny set the quiz which was won by Ann Johnson (on her own she insisted). 

Vic Harrup

Funeral of Dave Kingston

Some 150 plus people crowded in to the North Chapel at Eltham Crematorium on Thursday 6th September 2018 for the funeral of Old Askean Dave Kingston. There were many Old Askean in the congregation who had come to say farewell to a good friend. The service was conducted by fellow Old Askean Deacon Barry Mellish and one of the two eulogies was given by another Old Askean Robert Noble. 

After the service the assembly moved to the Royal Blackheath Golf Club where Dave had been a member. Memories and anecdotes were shared for several hours over a glass or two of beer and plates of food. It was a fitting farewell to a good man.

Thames River Cruise Sunday 22 July 2018

Forty-one landlubbers were aboard the Thames Barge “Lady Daphne” 
on Sunday  22 July 2018 on a trip organised by Roger Pawley. It was a splendid day in all senses of the word. The weather was perfect. The on board Guide, Bill, was full of information about what we were passing as the Barge went through Tower Bridge
and past historic Greenwich and the Thames Barrier. We were treated to morning coffee, a two course lunch and tea and cake mid-afternoon, before our return about 5 pm, having left London Bridge Pier around 10.30. For some shipmates the act of boarding and disembarking on a choppy Thames tide was an adventure in itself.
 
By Dennis Johnson

OAA AGM 5th July 2018

Some 25 plus members attended the AGM in the lovely setting of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club. Andy Jordan-Smith was elected President for the coming year.

After the meeting the members plus guest enjoyed a very pleasant meal. A more detailed account of the meeting will appear shortly.

 

Eulogy given to Richard Lawrence CBE at his funeral

It was characteristic of Dick that he should have had firm ideas about his funeral arrangements. He wanted the cremation, which took place earlier this morning, to be a private matter, confined to his immediate family.  He wanted this Memorial Service, which he devised himself, to be for his friends.  He would be delighted and gratified that so many of you are here.

Dick was a man of lifelong friendships.  I have never known anyone who attended and arranged so many reunions.  As is apparent from the marvellous letters Joan has received, he had friendships going back to school and army; he had regular reunions with a dwindling number of his cricketing friends from the Old Askeans; he was a regular attender at golf excursions with his friends from  Customs, the Belton Bracers; he regularly met his team from the Investigation Branch – the Old Knockers; he never lost contact with his secretary; he was a regular for the Seniors team at Dulwich and Sydenham; he was a faithful attender at this church, except when I lured him away to play golf on a Sunday morning ~ sorry about that, Father Robert.  This is a reunion of so many groups of his friends and he would have loved to be here.

I first met Dick nearly forty years ago.  We first played golf at a course called Belmont near Faversham but it wasn’t long before our golf centred on Dulwich and Sydenham, where Harry Walsh and the late Frank Bond formed our regular weekend four-ball.  

We played countless games together and I last played golf with Dick in September.  On the last green, when the match was in the balance, he gave me a 4-foot putt which I almost certainly would have missed.  He then had an 8-foot putt for victory.  It was the last stroke I saw him play and he holed it.  As a result of his generosity, I was reasonably pleased that he holed it at the time ~ but I’m immensely pleased now.

Our friendship went much wider than golf.   We shared a love of cricket and rugby.  I think of Dick every morning now when I turn on the radio to hear the cricket news from Australia.  I’m glad that he has been spared the result of the Brisbane Test Match.  We exchanged book suggestions.  Dick, Joan, Jill and I went to films together and discussed them over a meal afterwards.  In fact, the last time I saw Dick was on October 10th when the four of us went to the film On Chesil Beach, about which we had conflicting opinions.  Dick was never short of opinions.

October 10th ~ at that time he had not been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and yet five weeks later to the exact day he died.  No wonder that losing him has been such a shock to all of us. 

Dick was immensely proud of being a civil servant and in particular of being a member of Customs and Excise, as his father had been before him.  He was the best sort of civil servant.  He believed in public service; he had fairness and integrity, tempered with a sense of humour about the villains whom it was the stock in trade of Investigation Branch to deal with.  It cannot be said that he was an uncritical admirer of Her Majesty’s Constabulary but he would hear no wrong of his own Service.  If there had been any justice he should have been appointed to the Board of Customs but it was fitting that at the end of his career he was made a Commander of the British Empire for his achievements and his leadership.

It was perhaps inevitable that Dick’s sense of public service extended outside his professional life.  He and Joan have done a great deal for this church.  He served on the Council of Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club for six years and was President from 2010 to 2013.  In that role he dealt with the problems and tensions which beset a golf club with a patience and courtesy which won the respect and affection of both members and staff.

It was a critical time for the Club because its lease from the Dulwich Estate was coming to an end and had to be renegotiated.  The negotiations were protracted and difficult but, largely as a result of Dick’s reasonableness and patience, have resulted in an agreement which has secured the future of the Club for many years to come.

Dick’s life was characterised by lifelong loyalty – and that found its supreme expression in his loyalty to Joan and his family.  He was immensely proud of Vanessa and Charlotte and of his grandchildren, Henry and Emma.  He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and his family returned his love and loyalty wholeheartedly.  He loved his home, not least his garden and his vegetables, on which I received regular reports on the golf course.

How can I sum up Dick’s qualities?  He was a good man and all our lives, including mine, have been enriched by knowing him.  I cannot do better than the epitaph which another Customs Officer – the Scottish poet Robbie Burns – wrote about his friend: –

An honest man is now at rest

The friend of man, the friend of truth

The friend of age, and guide of youth

Few hearts like his, with virtue warmed;

Few heads with knowledge so informed;

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss

If there is none he made the best of this.

 

The Right Honourable The Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO PC

 

City Diners 2nd March 2018

This date was bedevilled by bad weather and snowfall, causing all kinds of travel disruption. However, it went ahead, producing :

“This time last week there were thirty eight of us due to be dining at The George Borough High St; in the event there were a hardy eleven us that sat down at the only surviving galleried London coaching inn. We tried valiantly to ensure that the bar takings were the same as if the thirty-eight were there, but sadly we failed although it were not for want of trying!

Many thanks to our gallant leader Steve for organising today’s event, the fish menu was excellent as was the wine and the company. 

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That drank with us at The George Inn this day.”

Organiser for City Diners is Steve Homewood, who was stuck outside Lewisham station for two and half hours on his way home, – and no access to a toilet on the train…..!!!