Monday, June 28, 2004

Going back

Hugely entertaining. That's the only way I can think of describing it. At first I didn't think it would be much fun. But there was always a nagging curiosity at the back of my mind: I hadn't seen these people for more than 10 years - 12 to be precise. What would they be like now.

So on Saturday I took a deep breath and returned to the scene of my less glorious times: my old school, Bedales, for the 10-year reunion. And I have to say it was more fun than I expected.

Once I'd got over the initial shock of meeting people I had quite forgotten - and others who I was once friends with, but barely recognised them - the thing that gave me most pleasure was to see the differences between the various class cliques melt away. If anyone felt shy or unsure, as many of us did all those years ago, they no longer showed it. These callow youths I knew from a decade ago, all seeking affirmation and wanting to be liked, had developed into people in their own right. And they couldn't give a damn what anyone else thought.

What was really interesting was to see how some people had followed a path I expected them to take - a few had gone into computers and other technological areas; others had made a complete volte-face from what they enjoyed doing at school. For example our star sports performers are all now employed in business, advertising, accountancy. Another, who had been so shy and quiet you could be forgiven for not noticing her at school, had blossomed and was now acting, including parts in television dramas.

But no-one seemed to have made it really big. I suppose we had that shock a few years ago when one of our number popped up in the various celebrity magazines, having built his fortune on an empire dedicated to running balls and other events. But he was a no-show, so there wasn't a chance to find out how it was all going since.

Refreshing to see some of the class bullies had clearly mellowed and where actually quite nice people. Others, who had been on the receiving end (I was lucky not to have borne it too heavily), had it out with them - and they were genuinely apologetic. Odd to see those girls who I had crushes for - and amusing to watch as some of them stumbled off into the surrounding bushes to make up for lost time! And then there were the class beauties, who had not aged as gracefully as we thought they might and the plane Janes, who had really blossomed in the intervening 10 years.

By 4am the party was still going strong and the beer had yet to run out. But I had seen all I had wanted to; and besides I'm no longer so good at pulling all-nighters.

So will I see any of them again? A few contacts were made and possibly I might meet up for a drink. But there is a gulf of difference between being 16 and 28; a catch-up might be nice with one or two of the friends I lost touch with. But chances are I won't see them again for another 15 years - when the 25-year reunion comes around.

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