I have come to believe that many people just did not like school, and here I must point out that I don’t mean the school of today but schools of my childhood in the 1960’s. However, the aspect of this tome may apply even today and that aspect is friendships at school and thereafter. I left school in 1965 when the world of work beckoned and off I went to face life ahead, totally unprepared as I now know. Yes, I had money, not much but still my own, well after I had paid for my keep after it being free up to that point, and I’m ashamed to admit I was reluctant to hand over a share of my meagre wages for such trivial things as food and lodgings. Because in truth that what I was becoming, a lodger, no sooner had I got home from work then it was washed changed, all clothes laundered by magic it seems, and out I went. I had friends to meet a life to lead and being a teenager in the 1960’s was indeed a heady experience, and as I found out, it had to be paid for, not always in money terms either.
Most of my friends were from school in those days but slowly, and ever so obviously, we kind of started to go our separate ways, some partings were for legitimate reasons. One of my mates emigrated, with his family of course, to Canada, others were not a so obvious parting of the ways but it usually meant a girl had appeared on the scene, who may or may not have been at the same school as us. But split up we did and the reasons were not rocket science, we were growing up and our tastes, in most thing, including friends, changed. We had visions of being the next Beatles or Stones or whoever, having bought guitars and taken lessons together, we practised where we could and as often as we could. But the day, and the realisation that we would not be the next supergroup, dawned, and the once happy band of school leavers, left each other. As for me, I travelled the country following my local football (soccer to any USA readers) team and I did it by what seems now to be a quaint, and forgotten past time, hitch hiking.
Bear in mind I was 15 travelling the length and breadth of the country, and miraculously enough reaching my destinations, getting home after the game was a different matter. But then the opposite sex came into the equation as I used to go dancing at the local dance hall and I suppose, inevitably although not guaranteed, I met someone ‘special’. Well, they were all ‘special’ for a while but this one particular girl knocked me off my perch for a long time, in short, I was besotted. Just one of my former school friends was still around but he had grand plans to work abroad, which he did, so then there was one, me. I passed into my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, occasionally meeting one or two of my old school buddies, both of us older and wiser, well maybe not the wiser part. And over time an idea came to me to get us all together for ‘one last time’ so to speak. So, this idea became an obsession as I tried to track down as many old school friends as possible, bit difficult with the girls as most of them had married and so different names, and no Facebook or whatever. But I did well, with help from some of those old schoolmates I may hasten to add, around 50 of us in total including our old teachers, some in their 70’s and 80’s, got together in an upstairs room of a pub, it helped that my son was manager of that pub at the time.
From that initial meeting we did it again, and yet again and I was prepared to do a 4th reunion until I was struck down by illness and the impetuous was lost. But 50 years after leaving that school in Hull I have been on the phone with an old schoolmate I haven’t seen since then and I loved it. In fact, I now realise that I loved school much more than I ever knew I did, the lads and lasses I had argued with, fell out with, now seem as pleased to see me as I do them. Sadly one or two of those teachers who met up have passed away but what saddens me, even more, is the fact that some of those lads and lasses in my class have also passed away. I came across this information trying to track people down for the 1st reunion and since then 1 or 2 more have passed on, what? Yes it pulled me up big time, I sat reflecting on life for a long time, I recalled, like having an old video tape playing in your head, of us kids in the playground, of taking a fancy to a certain girl and then suddenly come across the information that she has died. Yes I know, Death and Taxes someone once said but these ‘kids’ were the same class, the same year, hell the same era as me, but no more. And so now when I meet up with who is left, and the number is dwindling, I find these people precious, despite any misgivings, we may have had many years ago. They are my link to my lingering memories of an era I hold dear to my heart. I may even try and get those of us who are left together again for ‘one more time’, as time itself is becoming very limited.