After my visitors, I headed into town to meet up with my friend, who was having a long luxurious coffee in a coffee shop that I'd temporarily forgotten existed. It soon became as familiar as ever, and we sat, shooting the breeze, getting ready for the debating tournament ahead - the reason we'd gone to Newcastle in the first place. This event was a nice idea. It was a debate between present-day debating society students in Newcastle and "old boys", the alumni.
Now, before I go on to say how much fun the debating was, and how great an idea it was, I should point out that it turned out to be somewhat misnamed. In reality, though the debaters were definitely a mix of present students and alumni, and though the present students couldn't defined any other way, the element of alumni was rather subjective. Rather than being drawn from a pool of all those people who ever debated ever, it was more a particular group of ex-debaters, with whom I have links, and who were most active around 2003 - when I returned to actively debating for a bit, as part of my late-twenties self-reinvention.
So what, though? Maybe the word hadn't spread, but the people gathered for a common purpose and the prize was to be one's name engraved on a plate. A chance to enter the history books of a union with which I've had a very strong relationship over the years.
A quick fact. I was never that good at debating. I entered various competitions and I gave certain speeches that I could be proud of... indeed, I use some debating skills in preparing presentations, still. However, in competitive debating, I would always expect a place in the bottom third. The purpose of going, though, wasn't to win. It was to do something a bit out of the ordinary, and see some familiar and new faces.
The debate was in 3 round and a final and would be judged on individual speaker merits. Everyone got to do the three rounds, so you got to do a fair bit of debating. To my surprise, I scraped my way into the final. I've never been in a final before.
Then I won.
I've definitely not done that.
I didn't see that coming. I'm not sure I agreed with the decision. Too late to debate it, though. So, I'd just have to enjoy it.
After the debatnig was over, we skipped out of the student union, where they'd turfed one of the bars - yes, turf... weird. They'd put sand in the basement too. I nearly got to see that. Also weird. Apparently, though, hanging out with a bunch of beach-party-clad students wasn't on the agenda. So we went for a curry.
Curry turned to drinks, turned to dancing the night away in a late pub.
I remember the bit where we stood under a railway bridge singing a capella. Then a taxi home.
It had been a hell of a day and I'd done some things I'd either never done, or hadn't done in a long while. Very enjoyable.