My most honourable friends, I will be brief.
First thank you all for coming, I am really humbled that you have all made such an effort, especially Andy, Jonathan and Nick who have journeyed from abroad, though it has to be said that the M25 probably causes more difficulties than the channel or even the pond! Thank you also to Mike (Mr Bawden, Sir) for joining us, I hope it has been a pleasure and hasn't dragged up too many nightmares. I promise not to throw Andy through a port hole tonight…..
As you know, I started planning this two years ago, and have received loads of emails from all of you since then. A few stick in my mind, and Charlie will be pleased that there isn't any crocodile on the menu. The prize for the most difficult person to find goes to Jonathan, who I eventually traced through his brother who I found in the phone book, although Nick J comes a close second, by hiding in the south of France. Most of you, you may be worried to know, I found using the all knowing internet (and the Wellington register). Andy gets the award for travelling the furthest, and it is a shame that Alistair cannot be here, but due to a new job, he was unable to make the time available. Also not here of course is Richard, I don't know any more about his untimely death. Neither have I summed up the courage to find out more.
This would be a good time to propose a toast, to absent friends. The toast is "Absent Friends".
Many of us have kept in touch, which is not surprising as it was a very friendly year, with close ties such as Charles being a godparent to one of Mike's children being one of the best examples.
Being of a mathematical background ( feel free to disagree at this point ) I think a few statistics are called for. We have an average of just under 0.9 wives each, and 1.72 children. This is somewhat surprising considering the abuse that most of us seem to have meeted out to our bodies at university. Our average age is forty three, arguably obvious to the average person, but I checked the maths as mathematicians allegedly cannot see a connection to reality anyway. There doesn't appear to be a standard deviation, but I never knew how to work that out and don't see why I should start now. James has been the most prolific in the breeding department, and Henry is the only one with more girls than boys, but I'm not sure about Alistair, who just claimed three skiers, so I put that down as one and a half of each variety. Geoff gets the prize for the most complicated website, somehow that doesn't surprise me in the slightest. There are amongst us four engineers, three teachers and a couple of bankers…..Ian gets the prize for being the most technically capable as he was one of the few that managed to find some photos for me, albeit too late to get them all into the menu. I can only assume that the rest of you were too embarrassed to send photos, especially Nick who hasn't been seen with hair for over twenty years.
Anyway, I just want to say thank you to you all for coming. It is said you can judge a man by the company he keeps. I look around tonight, and consider myself to be very lucky. My son starts at Wellington in two years time. If he ends up with a group of gentlemen such as yourselves that he can call friends, then he too will be lucky indeed.