|Paul and I outside our alma mater|
Over the weekend my birthday celebrations began in earnest (a month before the big day). Paul had arranged with Rachel for the three of us to make a flying visit back to Bournemouth, where Paul and I had gone to university, studying scriptwriting for film and TV.
Alice was dropped off with Rachel's parents, the neighbours agreed to look after Barney, and we were off.
We rendezvoused with Paul (who'd travelled down from London by train, while we drove from Tonbridge) at our wonderful seafront hotel, then went round the corner to an old Beatles-themed café where we had lunch.
After that we headed to Poole, so I could I could pick up my latest shipment of comics from Andy at Paradox Comics, before heading back towards Bournemouth.
We dropped in to the main university campus, to have a drink at the student union (Dylan's) and a wander round, to show Rachel where we'd been "educated".
Not only were we slightly baffled by the lack of the students (or the fact that nobody asked us who we were and why we were wandering round) but also by the ease with which we wandered in and out of several lecture theatres!
Paul had phoned ahead to clear our visit, but neither the security guards nor the bar staff at Dylan's batted an eyelid as we sauntered in, or asked to see any ID.
Our next stop was the town centre Wetherspoon's The Moon In The Square - for drinks and a meal - that we had frequented often as students, before ending the evening with a beverage at O'Neills (another favourite haunt from our days on the south coast).
In O'Neills there appeared to be a band setting up, so - although there was nowhere to sit - I said I was quite keen to stay and see a live show.
However, the band spent, what felt like, about an hour going through their sound check, played half a song and walked off. It was most peculiar. Whether they actually got round to ever playing a full song, or even a set, we'll never know as we'd finished our drinks and decided to head back to the hotel.
On Sunday, it was an all-you-eat fry-up at the hotel before we drove out to the "suburbs" to see where we'd lived all those years ago.
We then dropped Paul off at the railway station and headed home ourselves (stopping off to pick up Alice on the way).
Although there had been a lot of improvements made to Bournemouth in the 20 years since we lived there, what was really noticeable on the Saturday evening and night was the paucity of obvious students.
There were stag parties, locals and tourists, but we didn't see more than a handful of students (even at Dylan's) until we passed a mammoth queue on Sunday morning outside the town centre student union venue (The Old Fire Station) which was hosting a vintage clothes sale!
It was a great weekend, full of some incredible reminiscing and the usual mix of anecdotes and BS. Instead of making me feel like an old man (even though the phrase "well, that was 20 years ago" got a lot of airings), it actually, for a moment, made me feel young again.
I have great friends!
|Childish conversations in The Moon In The Square|
|Rachel enjoying her wine in The Moon In The Square|