The LMC 50th Anniversary Dinner 2009

By Gary Beaner

The momentous weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club was held at The  Royal Goat hotel in Beddgelert, Snowdonia, on 9th/10th Oct 2009.

Festivities began on Friday evening, with a fascinating talk by Dave Burkett on his long history of climbing from the 1920s up to the present day. Dave showed how he made his first climbing helmet out of a galvanised bucket full of rags, and how he began to employ a length of scaffolding pole which could be sawn up and threaded with rope to use as runner. A breakthrough came when LMC pioneer Ron Middleton hit on the idea of sawing up the scaffolding pole in advance, thus shortening Dave's average time on a route by several days. 

Dave illustrated the use of the hemp waistline, which was a big improvement on the original practice of tying directly onto a hawser laid rope, which in the event of a fall would cut you in half. In a fall the hemp line would still cut you in half, but made a much neater job meaning less clearing up afterwards.

Dave then went to the Antarctic where he was forgotten for 50 years until he reappeared by a stroke of luck at the dinner.

Next we had a presentation by President Keith and some other bloke, on how they were abandoned on a remote Scottish island by a deranged gap toothed boatman, with nothing but red wine and pasta to live on, and nothing to do but climb new routes all day.  Inevitably during the long nights they became friendly and eventually intimate with the local inhabitants, who unfortunately were all porpoises. To this day there are monstrous half -man, half -porpoises lumbering up new routes around the island.

At last it was all over for one night, and we could get down to some serious drinking.

The outdoor photography on Saturday night was a hoot, as we tried to cram ever more tightly together on steps in front of the hotel.  Local village urchins had been recruited and given flashguns, torches and flaming brands in an attempt to brighten the ever darkening scene.

'Can the second row take one step to the right?' asked the photographer.  We did as asked: the person on the end fell into the road and was immediately run over. 'Sorry' she said, 'I mean my right, your left.'  So we obediently shuffled the other way, and several fell into the fish pond.

'Does anyone have any compact cameras they want photos taking with?'  A huge pile of cameras were handed over which were immediately plundered by the local urchins.  'Does any one have any wallets or watches they want looking after?' she asked.

At the end of the shoot she said 'would you now like a fun photo?'  To which we all eagerly agreed, expecting it would be some rumpy pumpy and perhaps beating up the party pooper, but instead she meant putting our hands in the air to look as if we were being held at gunpoint by local bandits.

At long last, it was time for the meal.  The plan had been for Tim Smith to silence everyone with his massive horn, but for whatever reason he decided against that. Instead we had a bloke with a bell to do announcements and introduce the speakers. Once he realised he wasn't Leonard Sachs from "The Good Old Days" he wasn't too bad.

From the first speaker Malc Manning we learnt the awful truth: that the club was created by Brian Tinker, purely to satisfy his insatiable demand for women, preferably from the Lincoln teacher training college, and to provide a legitimate front for 'getting them into his tent'. What happened then, we could only speculate. 

This explained a lot, as the obsession was later carried on by Andrew Reynolds who repeatedly returned to the imperative need to attract more female club members. 

Indeed in my own early days in the Club I remember a committee meeting minute that said "Committee members should go out and find women, and get them in the club."  I do remember some committee members throwing themselves into this task with gusto, and the violent reactions which resulted. 

I could not help observing that there were now some very attractive female members in the club, along with wives and significant others attending the dinner, which earnt me a slap from Mrs Beaner.

Returning to the dinner itself, the evening continued with brief but entertaining speeches from Norman Smithers, John Oaks, and a toast from Neil McAllister to absent friends.

Norman presented a fine photo of club stalwart Ron Middleton to Ron's widow Dorothy, who made a very elegant and touching response. The speeches were opened and closed by President Keith Archer who, I was relieved to see, had given up his planned career as a Carlos Santana tribute act and shaved off his moustache. Sadly he still has not given up the guitar.

Keith's address included the presentation of Lifetime Honorary Membership to Pat and Andrew Reynolds for many years of service to the club, a unique form of punishment which means they can never leave. Unable to contain their surprise and delight, Pat and Andrew celebrated by having a vigorous row over which of them never wrote things down properly. 

After the meal Mrs Beaner and I were able to mingle and chat, and sit through 14000 photos on a digital projector provided by Nick Hill, who clearly should get out more.

It was all an interesting experience for Mrs Beaner who had never been fully exposed to the LMC and only knew of my involvement through photographs of men in unreasonably tight lycra leggings and harnesses, frequently with embarrassing moustaches.  She was convinced I belonged to a society of Nordic porn stars rather than a climbing club. I'm still not sure whether she was relieved or disappointed.

The evening was rounded off by a splendid Welsh themed ceilidh, dancing to local thrash metal band Cig Moch Horror.

A brilliant weekend, thanks to all who worked hard to organise it.