Fifty four members of the medical class of 1962 met in Cape Town for the weeken d 22 - 24 November, 2002. This represented over half the class that qualified, and a far greater proportion than used to attend the Public Health or Chemical Pathology lectures. Some came from very faraway indeed, like Tasmania or Canada. Piet Brink came from Stutterheim, which isn't very far away, but just feels like it. Tony Miles didn't come at all, offering the feeble excuse that he was doing a locum on St Helena. I suspect the Newlands Clinic had sent him there in exile.
The weekend started with registration and meeting each other after 40 years. Someone said that everyone was so old that they did not recognize him. But yes, lurking inside the 60+ year old faces were the vestiges oft he face of before, not unlike the possibility that these were the parents or grandparents of the remembered young face in the tutorial group. The tour of the Chris Barnard Museum and the lunch were merely happy exercises in reaquaintance. I was sorely tempted on several occasions to say that I had 20 grandchildren, was retired and seriously rich, with a wine estate in Franschoek, and a game park near Mala Mala.
The whole thing thawed and took off like a rocket with cocktails at the Baxter Theatre, and Chris Kuhn's very own wines from his farm [what a Chardonnay!] flowing like water. Slightly flushed, but very cheerful indeed, we went into the theatre to watch David Kramer's "District Six", which turned out to be just the thing for the overseas returnees. There wasn't a dry seat in the house.
The Saturday morning was devoted to our Academic Meeting, and the following presentations: Artistic production of slides set to music - Marie Coetzee; Lessons learned from H pylori: please stand clear of the closing mind - Gil Barbezat; Medical Education at UBC - James Carter; Transforming our clinical method since Hutchison and Hunter - SamFehrsen; The many faces of post-abortion syndrome - Jon Larsen; Why I live where I live - Keith Loxton; The Life of Prof Charles Saint, first Professor of Surgery, UCT - Henry Goldin. To give authenticity, and to make it real-time, we saw to it that the data projector recurrently failed, which flushed out successive groups of self-declared IT technologists, who invariably made things worse.
The gala dinner was at Hildebrand on the Waterfront, where we had commandeered the whole top floor, and the best food and drink in Cape Town. Gil Barbezat made the main speech, evoking memories of [long gone] St Monicas, PMH, and [also long gone] teachers and characters of our University years. There was not a dry eye in the house. Gil also produced a booklet of personal profiles of the class.
We wound up the weekend with walks and a lunch at Kirstenbosch. Farewells were said, and fervent promises made. There was the warm feeling of friendship and companionship, with the slightest sad bat-squeak in one's head saying that most of us would probably never see each other again. It felt, perhaps, like a curtain descending after a play. The reunion was organised by the incomparable Joan Tuff, an expert event-person. As we left I had to point out to her that there were several people in our class who as students had stayed behind for a year now and then for extra experience, and that there was no reason for them not to attend other class reunions in addition to our cracker of one.