TEXT FROM THE FRI OCT 14TH SPEECH BY PADDY BOWEN
Good Evening everyone – how amazing is all this?
I do have to say it’s kind of surreal to be on this stage again.
The last time was 45 years ago, which I can hardly believe… in the school show for
1975 “No No Nanette”…
I have dined out for years on the story of how one of our cast – Rocco Romeo
(who many of you may know), who had the small part of “Chauffeur” took to the
We “actors” were standing in place – Mike Birch, Julie Day, Sandy Paterson –
maybe some others – when Rocco came in to deliver my suitcases. He was
supposed to quietly and quickly cross the stage, leave me the suitcases and leave.
Well, in he came and then literally CRAWLED across the stage. We’re all looking
at each other thinking “what the heck???” and assuming he was just savouring his
short moment in the limelight. Turns out the stage crew had filled the suitcases
with sand bags and poor old Rocco was dragging 300 lbs. Oh man, did we laugh
about it later.
I do want to make two short comments of a more serious nature though…
As we spent the last two years planning this event our Organizing Committee had
a number of discussions about what perhaps we might call the darker side of
Because we are all keenly aware, that while the whole purpose of a reunion is to
remember, re-connect and dwell fondly on our carefree high school days,
the truth is those times weren’t always happy or innocent for all of us…
The shadows that can cross any life, at any time, were surely present at Glebe –
the pain of losing a loved one, or secure home,
or living with an illness …
the hurt of being bullied, demeaned, harassed or even abused…
the confusion of figuring out sexual identity or who and how to “be” as we
headed toward our adult selves…
the anger, confusion and harm when we confronted racism, sexism, anti-
semitism, homophobia, intolerance
and of course the sheer sometimes overwhelming experience of just being
a teenager in the maelstrom of a place with 1500 students, 300 teachers
and so many options – both good for us, or bad.
As I was thinking of coming up here to say a few words, I found myself thinking of
something the British author Angela Carter wrote:
“There was a house we all had in common and it was called the past,
even though we'd lived in different rooms.”
Each of us here shared time and life in this “house” of Glebe Collegiate…
but we also lived in different rooms, proscribed by our place in time and our
countless individual circumstances.
So I think perhaps in the end, the best we can do is pause to honour all the
wonderful things, but the hard ones too. For no other reason than that they
happened, and acknowledging that shows a kind of respect for our shared history
and the truth of so many different lives lived.
Well – I guess I’ve taken down the celebratory mood just a notch. Sorry about
But while we are being a bit reflective there’s another thing I want to say – want
us all to do, for just a moment…
Which is to think of the ones who aren’t with us anymore.
The friends lost too young… the parents who saw us off to school in the days
when no one ever got a drive… the teachers who have passed… the countless
students of years gone by who fought in a war, helped build a thriving city, lived
full lives starting out in these long-standing halls…
Some of us have lost partners, siblings, or have even experienced the shattering
loss of a child.
And yet we know – don’t we? That we never totally lose those we have loved in
our lives. They walk beside us and live within us, never to be forgotten.
So tonight, as always, they are with us, as we walk through the place that took us
from childhood to adult.
And now, to wrap up and bring us back into the spirit of fun and nostalgia that
lured us all here tonight, I want to say “thank you”.
To all of you for showing up – of course.
To the 170 plus volunteers who are smoothing our way through this amazing
And above all to the 15 people on your Glebe 100 Organizing Committee (listed in
your program). If you’re here and not off doing something urgent, could I ask you
all to stand…
Thanks guys. It’s been an honour to work with you!
Of course, no team performs well without an outstanding leader and so I couldn’t
let this moment go by without mentioning Christy Griffin.
It would be hard to properly describe what an incredible captain she’s been of the
good ship Glebe 100. So I thought I’d give you an example.
Three o’clock in the morning, a week or so ago, I get an email:
In your talk on opening night could you please include:
Parade…where to meet and what to wear…
Come to Glebe Concert Band – blah blah blah
Don’t have your dance tickets? You can still come…get your tickets on your way
out tonight or tomorrow morning…
I think that is it?
Thank you so much Paddy
Need I say more?
On top of being a mom of two busy teenagers, a wife, owner of a fierce and active
dog, and working two other jobs, we had a Chairperson who was so committed,
strategic, detail oriented…
so politically adept…
so kind and so affirming…
that the end result was this unbelievable gathering delivered to you on a
shoestring, fully realised, on time and in great style.
In fact I don’t think there’s much more to say than WOW… and thank you…
Please help me welcome Christy Griffin to the stage everyone…
GIVE THE GIFT
Alrighty – that’s it for me. Have a wonderful two days everyone…
GO GLEBE GO!!!