WHY DON’T THEY COME?
OHs are truth hounds who like to wrestle with great mysteries of our time.
“What was there before the Big Bang?” is an example of a mystery we like to get our teeth into.
“What is the effect of all-encompassing mist on learning and sanity?” is another puzzler that fascinates alumni of the West Country school.
Such challenging questions are of little import compared to a very deep mystery baffling the OH Club’s older membership.
What everyone who left school in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s wants to know is this: “Why do hardly any younger OHs come to club events?”
The current generation of active OHs won’t live forever so, unless more of the “missing generation” of 80s and 90 leavers come to OH events, the club could disappear in a few years.
Identifying why many younger OHs stay away could help the club find a carrot to attract them.
A possible reason could be that they didn’t like their time at Allhallows, and don’t want to be reminded of it. There have always been pupils who hated the school. But if there was an increase in Allhallows allergy in the 80s and 90s, it seems unlikely to have been widespread enough to stop so many OHs of that era attending bargain lunches and drinks parties decades later.
But just supposing there was mass displeasure with the school in the 80s and 90s, what can the club do about it? Perhaps it could emphasise that club socials are enjoyed as much by detractors of Allhallows as by its admirers.
Here’s another possible explanation for the fall in attendance: China. Towards the end of Allhallows, about a third of sixth form boarders came from there, I’m told. You can’t expect them to fly from China for a lunch or a drink.
How about this? Maybe some OHs stay away because the school closed after they had left, leaving them with an irrational sense of failure. Maybe they felt their CV was tarnished, or they found it difficult getting a reference. Maybe the subject became taboo for them.
Some might imagine that OHs who were pupils actually when the school suddenly closed would harbour the greatest grievance, because their education was disrupted. But boys and girls who were there at the time of the closure constitute one year that do often turn up at our London drinks party. They don’t seem to feel a grudge. Some of them have even told me closure was a good thing, because they transferred to a school with better A-level results. Some male 1998 leavers have described their delight at finding that their new school had a higher proportion of girls. “More hot women!” one of them told me.
Maybe the school’s disappearance has hit the club in anther way. With no school to go back to, there is no rallying point to draw OHs. No school premises to welcome them back, and no on-going school to keep up to date with.
Closure also means no school staff to help us promote our events.
People are sheep. We’re sociable. We won’t go where others don’t. You see that pattern in the club, including some years of the so-called missing generation. A few years turn up in large numbers, while other years are absent.
Therein could lie the solution. If one or two brave sheep lead the way by turning up at an event and by inviting some contemporaries along, the club will thrive a few decades more.
I’m not a brave sheep. For 40 years I had nothing to do with the club but another sheep kept baaaaaing at me to go. Now I’m a regular.
If you’re a younger OH who can baaaa, you could be a leading sheep.