This past week I had the opportunity to participate in a classic Groton tradition: the Fifth Form rendition of “Blue Bottles.” The song commemorates the school’s age (135 this October) and closes out the annual birthday dinner. The dinner itself is an exciting occasion. The whole school filed into long tables in a gym decorated beyond recognition. After a particularly elaborate feast prepared by the Dining Hall (and the re-emergence of the best, reserved-for-special-occasions, bread rolls), the Sixth Form mounted the balcony around the top of the gym and demanded “Blue Bottles.”
That was our cue. We rushed over to the bleachers, assembling into our motley, impromptu choir. As we waited for Mr. Bannard to raise his large knife and signal the start, I hoped our single practice session would be enough to do the school proud. The song starts slow and stately, but as you take more and blue bottles off the wall (in the song), the volume increases and the pace quickens. Before I knew it, I along with the whole back row was jumping around, abandoning pitch in favor of volume.
Before I knew it, the final blue bottle had been taken off the wall. Our form’s brief moment of glory was over and we shuffled back to our seats, a little out of breath from the singing, jumping, and excitement of it all. Times like these remind me of just how far I’ve come. I still remember my first Groton birthday dinner, watching the then Fifth Formers scream out this strange song, thinking how one day that might be me. Now this year, I eye the Sixth Formers on the balcony and marvel at just how fast Groton has slipped by.