The Grey Staff Soirée

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 2 months ill …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage Ed

Grey!

In 1988, my last year of teaching at Grey High, colleagues Dee Hollelly and Neil Thomson initiated the Grey Staff Soiree. It showcased the unbelievable talent that we had on our staff – from music to acting to slapstick – and raised funds to enable a deserving Grey boy to attend a university.

The first Soiree was planned to run in the De Waal Hall for the parents from the Wednesday to the Saturday evening. Besides the show, there was a dinner served and, of course, a cash bar.

Included in the donations, was a generous number of beer kegs by SA Breweries, intended to last for the duration of the four shows, but ran dry on the first night!

The first MC was deputy head Brian Hibbert and the actors were all of us barely twenty year old teachers of The Grey. At the interval, Hibbert MC was challenged by Stapleton AC (threatening at that stage to run naked onto the stage!) to stand down from his position as MC! It was nothing personal but was only “for the sHake of the Show”!

Well, the show continued and ended with the Six Degrees, a band of staff members that continued playing for the parent dancers, and with Tommo’s help, into the wee hours of the morning.

The Wednesday show was so successful and “tiring” that the actors were unable to take to the stage on the Thursday evening. A rapid deployment of the parent audience booked for the Thursday evening was made, and the show continued on Friday and Saturday.

In fact, the show has continued for 26 years (with breaks in between) and now,traditionally, only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but never on a Thursday!

So, this past Saturday evening, saw us attend the 2014 Grey Staff Soiree.

From the original Six Degrees remains Neil Thomson (then drums, now guitar and vocals) and Ed Lunnon (then keyboard, now retired). Mike Thomson has moved on to Michaelhouse, Tony Reeler is headmaster of Pretoria Boys High and Greg Cunningham is now deputy head in Sydney Australia.

My roles in the Soiree, in addition to keyboards, have been actor (Fawlty Towers and many other skits) and, two years ago, MC.

This year, for the very first time, I was able to watch the show in its entirety as a member of the audience. I was convinced that the youngsters would not be able to fit into our shoes! They surely would not be as good as we were back in the day!

I was proved wrong.

Now, with Greg Thomson (Tommo Jnr) and Bigsy (Jason Bigara – one of Sean’s contemporaries and now a teacher) as joint MC’s and a host of enthusiastic new young teachers doing the acting (some repeats and a few old faces, I may add!), the show continued into the late evening, and we danced the night away!

Yes, “for the shake of the show” and the benefit of the bursary fund, long may yet another of The Grey traditions continue.

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Marching to Pretoria (Thailand Day 17 – 21: Mon – Fri: 9 – 13 July 2012)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Written on Monday 27 August 2012: 5 years 11 months on … Advantage CB

And, at 07h00 Monday morning, 9 July 2012, we landed, on time, at JHB – the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are Africans and we were home!

It was noon in Bangkok and Phuket – five hours ahead of us, but, paradoxically, all that was behind us now.

As in Life, all that remains are our pictures, our stories and our memories … the Legacy of Life – the Good in Good-Bye!

Yes, it was early Monday morning and we were back in mid-winter and back in Africa.

We stepped off the plane in our Thai summer clothing and the cold hit us. We could feel the cold Highveld and we knew we were home.

We could see the groups of Airport staff standing around with surly faces, hands in their pockets and no inclination to assist – not even to hold the door open (or to open it properly to remain open) as we stepped into the airport building! We knew we were home. 

We were moved from one carousel to the next to collect our baggage. We knew we were home.

Only five of the twenty passport control booths were manned and the queues of people from three international flights that had just landed started to build up. We knew we were home.

And then the computer system went down … we were most definitely home!

We went through customs quickly – “Nothing to declare”- and took leave of the Bryants, who were leaving later in the day for George Airport and Plettenberg Bay. Our very much smaller tour group – the four Lunnons – were going on to our administrative capital city, Pretoria (or Tshwane, as some would prefer to call it).

We would be taking the Gautrain, our newly built and opened South African showpiece right into Hatfield in the heart of Pretoria. Were we really home, or could this be a tube train in London? Although everything was so similar to a London tube train, the one thing we did not hear was “Mind the Gap!” However, we did hear that we were not to eat chewing gum (which we were all still chewing from our landing into OT Airport!)

Yes, we were really home and, yes, we can be truly proud of this achievement. We left the airport at 09h00 and were at the Hatfield station at 09h45, where we were picked up by our friend Tony Reeler, headmaster of Pretoria Boys High School.

I have written about Tony and Rose, and Michael John and Alexander before – see the blog “Thank you for the Music”.

The next three days we spent on the campus of the school in their lovely home that overlooks the Union Buildings and the Blue Bulls Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium (I’m not sure at which one of the two the seat of South African authority is vested!)

We acclimatised, got rid of the jet lag (which hit me particulalary badly after this trip), visited, chatted, skindered, snoozed, ate, snacked, Amstelled, yes – braaied!, red-wined, toured the school campus, visited Freedom Hill, caught up and generally just did what good friends do … (and the boys went back to Johannesburg on the Gautrain for two days to play golf with Phill’s friend Brad Mackenzie).

On Thursday morning, Tony took us over to Faerie Glen, where we were staying with my good university friends, Marzette and Thomas Moolman. We repeated the previous paragraph (except this time we took the boys ice-skating in Pretoria North)! We also managed to sneak in an afternoon visit to Pera’s friends Guy and Bev Keeling.

It was a week of cooling down, literally and figuratively! And it was great to catch up with good friends.

After brunch on Saturday, Thomas took us back to the OT Airport. Although I had heard on the news that bad weather was expected in the Eastern Cape, a call to the airline confirmed that all was well (or was it?!).

Our British Airways flight departed Johannesburg a few minutes late – headed for the Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Our Thai trip was fast coming to its end …