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500 years… 600 years… anniversaries in 2013
Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby
Between the ages of eight and eighteen (from 1980–90), I attended Nottingham High School. I was the third generation of my family to go to the school, following my father and grandfather. Founded in 1513 by Dame Agnes Mellers, the school will be celebrating its 500th anniversary next year. There will be a series of events; I’m wondering whether to travel down to Nottingham to attend one or more of them, particularly the reunion weekend in mid-June.

Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, (from 1990–93), I attended the University of St Andrews. I was the first generation of my family to go to university, and I liked St Andrews so much that I’ve chosen to spend my life here. Founded in 1413, the university will be celebrating its 600th anniversary next year. There will be a series of events; no doubt I’ll be going to several of them.

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There will be a series of events; I’m wondering whether to travel down to Nottingham to attend one or more of them

I've been wondering something similar myself. I had a brief glance at the anniversary brochure they sent me and apart from a few of the talks (which are impractical for me to get to) and the exhibition at the University of Nottingham which I should see if I can go and look at sometime, none of them really captured my enthusiasm.

Earlier this year I (and so, I imagine, did you) got a letter from the current headmaster about a restructuring of the ONs Society, mentioning that they've had difficulty getting much above about 30% (?) of any given year group to join the Society or go to any of the events they organise.

I've been tempted (but so far haven't found time) to write him a polite and constructive letter explaining why I've never felt particularly inspired to join or participate.

Bluntly, the alumni events they organise seem to be either trips to see one of the school sports teams do something frightfully sporty, or expensive black-tie alumni dinners. Since I expended quite a lot of effort during my ten years at the school trying to avoid participating in or witnessing any sporting events at all, I'm unswayed by the idea of deliberately going to see one now that I don't have to. And the dinners all seem to be posh networking events for the sort of people I have no desire to network with.

If they organised occasional public lectures on interesting topics then I'd be very tempted. And if they want someone to come and talk to the sixth form about mathematics then I'd be delighted to do so, and would cheerfully hop on the train to Nottingham. But watching a non-mandatory game of rugby or spending an evening with a bunch of financiers, lawyers and management consultants really doesn't appeal.

I'd phrase all this much more politely if I got round to writing to him, of course. But the message I've always got from the ONs Society is "this isn't really for you, you're not the sort of chap we're bothered about".

Mine is similar - the annual reunions being black tie rubber chicken jobs of very little appeal, the rest of their events being sports-centric. A handful of the people there are interesting/familiar, which is nice, but very few, and it would help if the catering were above prison grade. (Of the £50 ticket price, I suspect about £48 goes on the alcohol...)

It is sad that catered events seldom have good catering. Makes me wish that hotels served a breakfast buffet at all large events; hotel breakfasts are one thing that they can scale up while maintaining quality, and it is socially acceptable to read a newspaper or do a crossword at breakfast if the conversation lulls.

I’ve not been along to any ON events. I happily avoid anything sporty, and (based on my experience with university alumni) I expect the other events to be attended primarily by pensioners; on that basis I’ll grow into them.

I suppose any alumni association tends to run events based on the type of people who have the enthusiasm or time to be on the committee, which rules out most people of working age unless they have a compelling reason (such as a sporting interest).

But the open weekend looks moderately tempting.

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