Wednesday 2 December 2009

Butcher, baker and candlestick maker

I'm sitting here with a sore head. Not a bear with a sore head. But one of those fuggy, thumpy heads that sits on top of a weary, sluggish body. It's not my fault. Last night I met up for the annual reunion with my old school chums. And we had a good turn out - there was eight of us. We religiously go to the Anchor & Hope which is a fine gastro pub on The Cut by Waterloo. We consumed beer and wine.

We're a mixed bunch these days, and I remember the first time we did it, sitting there thinking "What on earth am I doing with these conservative, middle aged men?". It took a couple of goes before I got it...even though I had been the one that had encouraged the get together. Of the eight of us 4 were divorced and four still married. My guess is that of the latter four only two haven't strayed.

Our group consisted of someone who is VERY VERY SENIOR indeed in Lloyds (insurance not banking). He earns more in a week than I do in a year. Footballers wages. And one day he will be at least a Sir, and probably a Lord, chest decorated with an MBE, CBE or OBE. He was always the sensible clever one who would catch the attention of the teachers. His career choice entirely suits him. He has achieved everything you would expect.

Then we have the banker who stumbled in his career and is now a regulator...but not on the mainland. He was head of house. Three years ago, he dropped me a line to say his marriage of twenty years was over. He didn't seem to know why, which distressed me. He was nonchalant, and asked for advice on where to find 'women'. The only thing I could offer was that after a period of 'chasing tail' he would get bored and want to find someone permanent in his life again. Last night he thanked me for that advice. He has indeed found someone to settle with.

There is the GP from the home counties. Married for all his adult life and very settled where he lives. As a boy, his parents were in the forces and moved regularly. He has treasured the certainty of life as a pillar of local society. A while ago, he and I went clubbing, but the allure of dancing with girls less than half our age soon faded. Even if we thought 'We still have it'

The entrepreneur who sells medical devices. Always has has a glint in his eye, and not even a bald head can diminish that. Now on his second marriage, and to the daughter of our old physics master. But for all his spirit and charm, he's not quite as successful as I would have expected. I'm not sure why - what is it that makes some people fantastically successful, and others not. Perhaps the roving eye applies as much in business as it does at home.

The Sikh who now has to be called by his proper name, rather than Ali which we knew him as at school. That has Muslim connotations. Many a fun hour was had stretching his starched turban fabric so he could wrap it round his head. He is charming, well mannered and restrained and I would trust him with my life. And it's interesting to remember with him all the things we all did as unruly kids, and compare that to the man we see now. I like that he is very much part of the clearly defined Sikh culture, but can still seamlessly join in with us. It is how it should be.

There is a garage door salesman. Never a great academic, but a good sportsman. Even thirty years later, the shortest email from him can take an hour to decipher. And his claim this year was to spend an hour on the Fourth Plinth, promoting the benefits of the Scouting movement. He has a special place in our hearts as it was he that inspired the boy to learn to swim.

And then lastly there was the boy who was rubbish at sports, rubbish at school work but remained a popular boy for his offbeat humour. All the teachers predicted he would go nowhere, and it is good that he has proved them wrong by rising to be a Director of a large insurance business. Happily married with two lovely children. And not only that, he runs, rides and swims triathlons. Which he started doing in his forties. That should be an inspiration to anyone. Good man.


  1. So which boy were you?I think we ought to have a description....

  2. For some reason this post warms the cockles of my 'eart. Thanks
    :-) TFx

  3. How wonderful that you stay in touch with so many of your school friends! Sounds like a great evening.

  4. AG...of course!!
    NVG...feel you might be better placed to write a decription than me...
    TF...any tme was a great evening, yes, and good to still see these guys


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