Proctor : December 2018
51 PROCTOR | December 2018 A touch of nostalgia Notes on a 30-year reunion Since coming to Queensland Law Society, I have had the opportunity to witness a number of swearing- in ceremonies for new judges, magistrates and tribunal members. The ceremonies are always impressive and often quite moving, with appointees thanking those – family, friends and mentors – who have helped them achieve high office. They sometimes even mention favourite lecturers, and the words of inspiration those lecturers gave to them as students. “Yous’ll all fail!” If I am ever sworn in as a judge (pause for hysterical laughter from friends and former lecturers), those are the only actual words of inspiration that I will be able to recall from a lecturer at uni. One of our lecturers would thunder this on a reasonably regular basis, and with the sort of passion usually only seen when Bob Katter is providing dubious statistics on croc attacks in North Queensland. Occasionally he (our lecturer that is, not Bob Katter) would provide some of the reasoning for this statement, almost always along the lines of unfavourable comparisons between our collective IQ and the intellectual capacity of the average pet rock. To be fair, I remember more from that particular lecturer’s orations than most others, but that was probably due to his anecdotes which largely involved using his superior knowledge of the Sale of Goods Act 1896 to vanquish salesmen and retail staff. I recall him telling us how he took some poor high-school kid working Saturday mornings at Kmart through the Act, all to ensure that he (again the lecturer, and not the kid) got a replacement for his defective toaster immediately, and not after the involvement of the manufacturer. I imagine the kid is still in therapy. The sound of that lecturer assuring us that we’d all fail is as much a part of my uni career as scribbling indecipherable notes at 100 miles an hour in a lecture, falling asleep in Constitution lectures and the delicious thud of willow on leather as someone ran into the tree in the middle of the touch football field. I also recall the sound of the Wiggles playing the kidney lawn, though they were the Cockroaches back then – although the way they dealt with poor old Sam, they probably still are cockroaches (parents of young kids will understand that statement). There actually was a tree in the middle of the touch football field at QUT, and my mate Phil was an expert at running opponents into it, either because of his dazzling skills or the fact that our opponents were not always the sharpest overall tools in the box (after all, there were some teams from the engineering school in the comp). Touch football at QUT back then was actually a fairly dangerous undertaking, because in addition to having the tree, the field sloped down towards the Southeast Freeway, which in fact constituted the boundary on one side. This wasn’t great as the freeway is constructed of concrete which – as many qualified engineers have noticed – is much harder than trees. This could on occasion result in more broken bones than are usually associated with touch football; on the other hand, it was pretty easy to settle arguments over whether someone had stepped out or not. Player 1: You stepped out! Player 2: Did not! Player 1: Then why is your leg bleeding? Player 2: It was like that when we started! Player 1: I can see the bone Player 2: I’ll have you know I was on my way to get a skin graft and thought I’d fit in a quick game of touch footy! Player 1: You don’t look so good Player 2: (faints) Why am I gibbering on about uni (I have a feeling I should add ‘again’ to that sentence)? Because back in October, there was a 30-year reunion of the most talented (as defined by how much they like my column) cohort of QUT Law students ever, the cohort that attended 1985-ish to 1988-ish. 1 At the outset, I can assure you that if you want to feel old, having a 30-year reunion of pretty much anything you have ever done will do the trick. Another thing that will help is to flick through photos of how you used to look back then – so we wisely elected not to have any such photos about. Going to reunions is always fun for me, because while on the one hand I have a terrible memory for names, on the other my recollection of faces is even worse. Thus, I simply smile at everyone and wait for someone to accidentally say the name of anyone I don’t recognise. Unfortunately, my friends are all as old as me and are employing the same strategy, which can make for some awkward silences. I suspect this problem was anticipated, because there were nametags; also, the reunion took place at Parliament House and security probably thought at least some of us were terrorists. Nametags, as you will have noticed, is the go-to response to terrorism for all Australian governments; I bet the rest of the world is just kicking themselves for not thinking of it. Bellowing lecturers and tree-induced concussions were not the only things I remembered from uni, of course; I remembered fun, laughter (lots of laughter) and a great group of people. Fortunately, on this at least, my memory functioned perfectly, and my old uni mates proved to be exactly as I recalled: easygoing, fun-loving people that the world needs heaps more of (and – based on the number of conversations I had about the cost of childcare/school/uni – is going to get). In short, it was a great night and I urge anyone to go to every reunion – school, uni, netball, whatever – you possibly can (NB: It is always better if it is your reunion, but it is up to you). To my cohort, thanks for an awesome night and for being such awesome people; roll on the 40th! Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor. Note 1 It is hard to be precise, as many of us were so talented that we had to spread a four-year course over five years; it is entirely possible that we have a different concept of talent from the one with which you may be familiar.