The longest hot and dry spell of weather for 25 years. Temperatures up into the low 90’s. This was practically unknown for the Summer Barbecue, held in the Rose Garden again at King Charles School.
Many of us remember the inclement weather of previous years, at the Rugby Club or in the emergency covered area of the School’s internal quad. It was so lucky therefore that this year’s event was unique and provided the ideal situation for any barbecue, anywhere. The usual gallant team of awning erectors, Roger Perrin, Colin Lloyd, Peter Picken and David Slater had met in the morning to make sure the area was ready for the guests. Apparently gardeners had done some emergency work on the garden, hacking the covering nettles and brambles from the benches around the circle. Despite this, it is still not the Rose Garden which some lucky Sixth Form girls remembered from the early 1960’s. In those days there was a permanent school gardener, much admired by some of the girls, or so I am told.
When the weather is so hot and sunny, it is inevitable for my thoughts to go back to the Bewdley Road School. The games of sweaty football on the field with coats for goal posts, lying in the shade whilst Wimbledon was in full swing, revising for O levels, and the games of House cricket. Three individuals stand out for me in those memories of sunny days. First, Ben Ford, perhaps the best sprinter of his year burning up the athletics track, and a fine rugby player too ( Oh, comment nous lui manquer.) Then Mike Wilson, the village of Bockleton’s answer to David Gower, a deserved winner of the cricketing Rose Bowl. And Brian Cowley, another Bennett Street Junior School graduate, an elegant footballer and fearsome bowler in the Brian Statham tradition, who went on to play for Kidderminster Cricket Club. All of these individuals brought great credit to the school and to the Old Carolians.
The thinnest of clothing, and protective hats were the order of the day, some were even in shorts and some holding the odd hand held sun umbrella. Last year I remembered a straw poll which, by a considerable majority, opted for Remaining in the EU. We got that wrong. This year, the talk was of the General Election shock and the position of Teresa May. When the Magazine is published in November, it will be interesting to see how the political situation, including the Brexit talks, have worked out. A hard or a soft Brexit? Perhaps, better not go there.
The Barbecue food was again in the expert hands of Peter Picken , Dave Laverty and their wives. Huge tasty sausages, burgers, chicken and steak, bread rolls and lovely salads provided by Committee members and their wives. The meat, originally sourced for many years by Martin Hobson, comes from John Bood butchers in Moor Street, Brierley Hill. John originally had premises in the old Kidderminster indoor market. Many returned to the cooking area for seconds and to take home the mini feast which was left over. In the background throughout the evening, the lovely CD music of 100 strings, a combination I thought of the best tunes from the era of Mantovani and the modern Andre Rieu. Then, to set the seal on a great evening, a raffle which raised the princely sum of £107. President Ian Sandall spoke for everyone when he said how much we all appreciated the efforts of the individuals who had worked hard to make the Barbecue such a success. He was not alone in promising himself a rigid calorie controlled diet over the next few weeks. It was still a bright and balmy evening when the guest departed for home close to 10 pm. In future years, I think we will all be saying, “ do you remember that Barbecue when it was so comfortable sitting outside and chatting into the evening?”
As I conclude this report, I am so sorry to hear of the death of Ken Garbett. Ken was a tremendous Old Carolian and a long standing supporter of all the Old Carolian social occasions. He was a regular at all the Barbecues, the Quizzes, the Horse Racing evenings, and many other functions, making sure that everyone enjoyed themselves to the maximum. The bar which he set up at the Barbecues, the fish and chip suppers - all were typical of the way in which he gave so freely of his time. He was such a great supporter of the Association over several decades. Rest in Peace Ken.
OCA's Entertainment Correspondent: "Captain" Peter Vaughan