Popping Down to the Virtual Mildert Bar

I’ve been back to Mildert bar on several occasions over the twenty three years since I graduated, usually for a drunken reunion or a quick nosey when heading up the A1. I have probably clocked up ten visits, almost one every two years since 1998. That, I think from my group of Mildertian friends, isn’t too shabby a record. However, in the last 5 weeks I’ve been back seven times.

Yes, you read it correctly. In the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic I’ve managed to clock up circa 20 hours drinking and chatting in Mildert bar with fellow alumni. Of course, this isn’t breaking any of the lockdown rules by travelling northwards but it is in fact the ‘Virtual’ Mildert Bar.

Whether it is Google Hangouts, Zoom or any other video conferencing platform, Mildert Bar has returned with a big bang into my life. A couple of times a week I’m hanging out like it was 1996 with close friends and people I haven’t seen since the heady days of Blur vs Oasis, and can I tell you it has been wonderful!

At a time when the world is a challenge and the news is 24-hour doom and gloom it has been brilliant to get away from it all and talk ‘shite’ for three hours about anything and everything. It’s been great hearing what people are now doing, what their families are like and often what they look like as a small child comes running into shot calling for mummy. I daren’t say to many Mildertian’s children that the last time I saw your dad he was vomiting into a grate outside the Dunn Cow post-graduation.

The talk, as you would imagine, defaults to our time at college pretty quickly. Do you remember the first Kazu, your first ‘laking’, the recycling of sausages into every dish imaginable in the kitchens and the high pitched Geordie banter of the amazing cleaning staff.  These memories are quickly enriched by people thrusting 25-year-old, slightly faded, photographs to their laptop camera so that we can relive the horror of Indie haircuts, drunken formals and liaisons we’d rather forget. Thank god that camera phones had not been invented in the 90’s or else the evidence would have been far more plentiful.

There are alumni scattered all around the world and on the calls I’ve conversed with Mancs living in California, Stoke City fans in Saxony, expats in NYC and Geordies in the Caymans. The latter is purely for work opportunities and nothing to do with tax implications I’ve been told to say in case any alumni work for HMRC.

What has amazed me was that a time of restricted social interaction many of my friends first thoughts were to spend the time and reach out to people they haven’t spoken to in years. It shows a lot about the community spirit, love and general bunch of top drawer people Mildert produces, and still produces to this day.

I’ve enclosed a few screenshots of some of the sessions I’ve been involved in to seen if you can spot anyone you know. However please share some more with the Alumni if you have any of your virtual meet ups, or indeed future meet ups if this inspires you. We’d love to keep a record of the virtual bar and share with everyone in the Alumni at a later date.

James Mackenzie, VMC 1994 -98

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