I cannot remember when I started, however I don’t believe we went to school much after 1975 due to the war. Not sure why as it appears to have stayed open.
Photos, We have some photos from the 1972 Kermesse originals unedited. If we can find them we will scan and forward on. One then and the one now, now being me standing outside where I believe our old school used to be. Mind I am probably wrong, Beirut anyway October 2009.
I live in Brighton, on the South coast of England (UK for our American cousins)
We where evacuated via Damascus on July 4th 1976 arriving 3 days later in the UK. Initially living in Croydon (South London) then moving south to Mid Sussex. Since University I have spent most of my working life in Brighton. My early school days here in the UK where odd, guess it was also for my classmates. Sounding like an American and being quizzed on if I had seen any dead bodies! Kids I guess with no idea.
After University I worked in the manufacturing automotive industry, Now I run an IT support business with Brothers Ben and John, since 1999 just before Dad died, although we started this business originally in 1995.
Here are the questions :
1)How was life in Beirut different in those days and what are your most vivid memories of that time?
Considering what happened and where we were this could be a long one.
The fun times:
School being great, a combination between play and study! I remember digging a hole in the corner of the sand pit under the broken concrete that lined the bottom of the pit!
I remember being taught how to ride a bike by a certain girl! Bouncing of cars trying to break as you had to cycle backwards to get the breaks to work!
Always about with another girl playing basket ball, baseball, volleyball and knowing her probably soccer too! A really cool tomboy type of girl, I remember her well! All before I knew what to do with girls!
Hopping up onto the school wall beside our block of flats and swinging on the drying line to climb onto our balcony (when Fr Leahy wasn’t looking). Living so close had its advantages!
Occasionally after school heading down to the St George club and going for a swim in St Georges bay in the afternoon sun!
Brother Dell and his VW Camper Van, setting off for his drive to Rome. How cool. School felt very different after he left.
Boarding for one week in the Italian Section whilst my Dad had to go away on business and mum was ill. Being taught a few spattering words of Italian by the boarders and enjoying the school canteen. I remember the food being very nice, epically the spaghetti bolognaise and being taught how to eat it by a priest contra to the way my mum insisted I should eat. I hasten to add I still eat in the same way that priest taught me today 🙂
The not so good times.
The assignation of Abu Youssef by Israeli commandos who lived in the top floor of our building in April 1973.
After the war started, sitting on the top floor of the building with my brothers counting the shells coming in almost as if it was a spectator sport, seams mad thinking about it now!
Collecting shrapnel as trophies, yet more madness!
Keeping the bath full of clean water in case of a problem with supply.
During the ceasefire scouting around for food! Dad sending the four of us out in four different directions with cash each to buy what we could.
A funeral cortège of a PLO chap and the gunfire that erupted from it as it passed. Thank fully all in the air. Thing was it was behind me and I ran like the wind for cover. After it stopped, I turned round to see my Dad laughing. He had been some distance behind and spotted what was going on. I always wondered about Newton and the law of gravity when that happened!
Dad running the gauntlet picking my mum up from work at the Holiday Inn during heavy fighting.
Kids not much older than me manning barricades with AK47s, scary!
2)How do you think that the years of school in Beirut have influenced your later life?
The years in Beirut have influenced me in many ways. Had I just been bought up and raised here in the UK I would have very little knowledge of the world around, nor would I appreciate actually how safe it is here. Yes, war is madness, tolerance has to be the way. Deep interest in Arabic politics, always aware when people try and polarize issues. A love for the great outdoors and the sea, I race yachts these days.
3)Whom did you stay in touch with over the years?
Sadly nobody. I was too young to swap details when it all went a bit wrong. If anybody remembers me please do get in touch.
4)Would you have liked to stay in Beirut after having finished school? And do you think your life would have been different?
This is a very difficult question considering what was going on at the time. If If If! We did not leave the Lebanon in a hurry. I think Mum and Dad would have by far preferred to stay. We left because of the gradual deuteration of the war over time. Dad told me his decision time came when he considered buying an AK47 to protect us. Time to leave if he was thinking like that. If war had not come it is a “no brainier” question. But it did.
5)Do you think you will return to the Lebanon one day? And if so, or not, why?
I have, in October 2009 for the first time since we left, and what a place. On my part I have been wanting to go back for years, however trying to assess the situation from here has been a challenge. Difficult to recognize parts, but the rest great! Do not go expecting to find what was left behind, I didn’t. I went to see the change. I did have some trepidation eased when I walked out of Beirut Airport and the old familiar smell of “home” hit me. Wow. Driving from the airport into the city, then seeing the gun in placements hum. But don’t let that put you off. Everybody we met where very polite and friendly. We wondered the streets of Beirut after midnight on our 1st night and felt very safe.
6)Are you interested in taking part in future reunions of ex-students?
I would welcome the opportunity to attend and will make every effort to do so. Not sure I would recognize anybody!
7)What do you think of this website and how can we improve it?
Well done to all concerned. I think it looks fabulous, good effort. A small suggestion, if anybody remembers exactly where the old school was, maybe putting a Google map link to its last known position?? Just a suggestion. I wondered up and down the Rue Verdun and could not get any bearings. There is a large open space which I think is where it was, but got no references.