Griffin House Reunion
Sunday morning at Rugby School can be a quiet affair, indeed, anyone would have expected this Sunday to be even quieter than normal in Griffin, as the annual Griffin Garden Party for the whole of the sixth form had been held just the night before. It was, as usual, a huge success (and a slight mess afterwards). However, by nine o’clock on Sunday 23 April, the house had come alive. Girls were tidying up the Marquee from the night before, the cleaning staff were vacuuming to their hearts’ content and in the dining room the last few stragglers were gulping down their cereal as the room was transformed around them. Chairs were stacked and tables moved, all in preparation for the day to come.
Now this Sunday was unusual throughout the school, as it was Confirmation Day. For some, a day to connect with their religion and embrace God. For others, it was a day when they had to wake up even earlier than normal for chapel. But regardless of which category people may have been in (and I won’t say which I was), the service was entertaining as always, with people being splashed with water and the whole chapel on their feet, pulling party-poppers aimed at the newly-confirmed. When it was over, people poured out of the chapel, some rushing about, others sauntering along in the rare English sunlight. As all the Griffin girls arrived back at the house they were reminded by Matron Liz (what would Griffins really do without Liz?) of the one o’clock start time.
Lo and behold one o’clock came around, as it usually does. Suddenly the tidied dining room was packed to bursting point with ORs, their parents, former tutors and Griffin girls mingling and chatting happily. Once the room felt like it was going to explode with people, Headmaster, Mr Green, got up and welcomed everyone, after which people filed out to the garden, where the celebration was to begin in full. Old Griffins mingled together and caught up on their way into the garden marquee. Guests exclaimed over old pictures put up at the side and people took their seats. It was a genuinely beautiful day – something of a rarity – the sun was out but not blinding, and the pink petals of the cherry blossom trees were scattered across the garden.
Soon guests were chatting away over a delicious lunch and everyone was having a good time. After the last of the plates were cleared the current Griffins filed onto the dance floor in the centre of the marquee. The guests were then treated to an enthusiastic rendition of California Dreaming, the number we sang at this year’s House singing competition. The Griffins then sat down amidst the applause and Mrs Naylor gave her speech.
She started by recounting her arrival at Rugby, with a story that made Mr Naylor blush tomato red. She then told us of the many years she’s had at the school, and in Griffin - all of which created the Griffin we know and love today - and one particular story stuck in my mind. She was recounting the time Griffins had tried fundraising by ordering hoodies to sell. They were stuck for a slogan to put on the back, and eventually settled on one: ‘Griffins – not weird, just gifted’. Hmmmm I thought, they might be on to something there. Now, Mrs Naylor being Mrs Naylor, no speech is complete without a song. And in true Naylor style, she got everyone on their feet to join in for a Griffin-ised version of The Sound of Music medley that had people laughing around the room.
After this, a current parent of three Griffins, Mrs Lou Bibby, gave a speech looking back on what an amazing Housemistress Anne Naylor has been, and how much Griffin is going to miss her (a lot). Then, a surprise guest appeared, none other than Barry Manilow (Tribute act). As he swanned in, gasps echoed throughout the room (along with a couple of whispered ‘who?’s). He began to sing and we listened with rapt attention to his first song, or so. Then, as he settled in, guests moved to join him on the dance floor. Soon enough, everyone was up and it became a tangle of people, and right at the centre of it was Mrs Naylor and Liz dancing together.
Now, I have to admit, the dancing scared me off and I snuck away slowly. However, I could still hear the singing and dancing, even from inside my room; Griffin House has rarely been so lively in my years living here. By late afternoon, the dancing had wound down and the guests began to leave, all chattering excitedly still, many of them sounding like they’d just returned to their teenage selves. I doubt a single guest left this house without a smile; and if that doesn’t sound like Griffin, well, I don’t know what does.
Current Pupil, D Block Griffin