It was the autumn of 1964 and The Kinks were top of the hit parade singing You Really Got Me, when ten of us arrived at the University of Birmingham to study Chemical and Mechanical Engineering. We came from all over England. Little did we know that this was to be the beginning a beautiful friendship. Most of us stayed in Manor House, Lady Cadbury’s splendid country residence set in parklands just off the Bristol Road. We threw bread at the house’s single telly in the common room while watching Top of the Pops. We had a ball and the occasional Ball.
While we were at Birmingham the 60s became ‘The Sixties’. Our social life blossomed. Five of us are still with the girls we were walking out with while we were there. By some miracle, we did enough work to get our degrees and then left to work in engineering companies, with the exception of Eggy who became a pilot. The years passed. We married, set up our homes, had children and pursued our careers. Then in 1987, somebody had the bright idea to hold a 20-year reunion. It was the first time that we had been together as a group since we left. We met under Old Joe and retraced our steps on the campus, walking round the engineering buildings and revisiting Manor House.
Later on we exchanged memories and got out our photo albums. One of the photos was of a human pyramid that we had built in the grounds of Manor House. Naturally we immediately decided to build another one. The first reunion was such a success that we decided to repeat the event every five years, and that we have done. Each time a different location and organiser is chosen. Of course, at each event despite our growing builds and ageing limbs, we build the pyramid. It has become an unmissable tradition.
Not all of us could make it to every reunion and one of us, Norman, is no longer with us. We toast him every time we get together. As 2017 approached, we realised that our ‘50 years on’ reunion had to be special. Three of us volunteered to organise a reunion at Birmingham and we spent many happy hours planning the event and chatting about old times. In April, we gathered outside the Barber Institute for an excellent guided tour. From there we went to the foot of Old Joe and despite every one of us being over 70, we managed to build our beloved pyramid. We all think the world of the University and city. We’re incredibly grateful that it brought us together and that our friendship has lasted 50 years. Here’s to our next reunion in 2022.
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