Newsletter 44: Autumn 2003

Carissimi Pelicani:

I am writing this about one week after the reunion at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel September 26-28 but I'm off to France on Tuesday so don't expect to get this out to you until the end of October, Deo volente, (ablative absolute there, by the way). Zelda and I went up to Bonnyrigg on the 25th to see Hugh Campbell. We stayed overnight at Lasswade and went back to see him again on the Friday. Hugh was in fine fettle both times, full of chat and good humour, totally reconciled to his condition. You can catch him with a card at 171 Cameron Crescent, Poltonhall, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian EH 19 2PJ. Pat Menzies and Pauline went down to see him on the Saturday of the reunion and I know Hugh was very happy to see his old classmate. I think Vinny Callaghan is going to organise a run down to Bonnyrigg and I hope that comes off.

You know how I wrote a moanin' gait letter after the Bishops Waltham reunion in June? Some of you know that I've been wrestling with the idea of throwing over the Pelicans now for some time. I have desisted on the grounds that once you drop something like the Pelicans you have to work like hell to get it back and say what you like, I think we are doing splendid work on behalf of Africa and this since 1992. 1 would leave reunions morale boosted but as the numbers dropped I would wonder what the hell! For me it became a case of Pelicans, use 'em or lose 'em and I didn't want to lose 'em. Ergo, I wrote my moanin'git letter and flew into a flak of metaphysics as to Why the Pelicans? What the Pelicans? I was even told I was more Catholic than the rest of you! I feel the answer to all this stuff came on Saturday night when treasurer Pat Gibbons stood up to give an account of his stewardship: £1000 from an anonymous Pelican and £250 from his local Masonic Lodge(!) --- all for Africa without a penny skimmed off !

Dryburgh was a proper reunion. On Saturday night, we had not enough places round the big- oval table. - I know you'll cry Paradox! but that's what I call getting together. On Saturday morning (thanks to Mrs Christine Hughes and Brian the caretaker) we were admitted to the college and once we were in, what a hard job of orientation that was. Back at the hotel, midday, Fr Boyd said Mass (as at our first reunion in Rutherglen in October 1992). Fr John Strain followed with the 2001 lecture on his tour of East Africa (incorporating the slide show we missed at the Priory). Jim Murphy (St Boswell's 1941-43; Priory 1943-47) was next with a very interesting account of his wartime at Bishop's Waltham. One of the aims of Dryburgh 2003 was to give the WF cemetery a clean-up and I take my hat off to Tommy Kelly, Vinny Callaghan, young Pat Tierney and John Morton. Fr Griffin's stone is in good nick but not so those of Frs Drost and Rijkers. Verb. sap. (or perhaps op).

Who was there you say?
Mrs Hughes
Jim Murphy
(I recognised him at once from his Priory First X1 pix)

Frank Murphy and Pat
Chris Benton and Josie
Paul West
Bemie Ahearn
Dessie Fitzmaurice and Geraldine
Pat Menzies and Pauline
Pat Gibbons and Norma
John Morton and Margaret
Fr John Strain and Margaret
Tommy Kelly and Margaret
Bernard Melling
Fr Pat Boyd
Fr Chris Wallbank
Mike Byrne
Robbie Dempsey
Vinny Callaghan
Mick Creechan
Pat Tierney
John Martin
Chas Robinson and Jean
Frank Dillon and Moya
Mike Ellis and Trisha
Billy Tonner and Natalie
Danny O'Hagan and thousands more.

I hope I haven't left you out. Not bad for a moanin' git, eh? Fr Wallbank celebrated Mass on Sunday morning at St Cuthbert's, Melrose and we got a spontaneous applause for our Salve Regina and Sweet Saviour, Bless Us (ere we go). I think we should make more of our Plain Chant (I always carry my music with me) and I have a bundle of Priory songs (courtesy of Mike Fitzgerald and the late Eddie Mulraney). We have sung them only once, one night at Rutherglen.

I'm so grateful for everyone who came. I'm doing away with the Fiery Cross. Listen, the next reunion is at The Priory for Whitsun next year. Don't start making your excuses. You know you can be there. All you need is the political will.

Think Africa!


Return to Top OR Return to NEWS section