School Reunion 2008
not mine, but true, as attended and witnessed. Pic.: my own
Pre-tanked to offset shocks with aging, five old toads talk profusely of post-war times, of success and failure in a fabulous era; though, pleading amnesia when convenient, like now, confronted by three tanned toadesses exhuming old passions, implying complicity! The fun’s about to start for this knot of now eleven at first honoured table! “Madame! Have you no shame!” We all snigger.
Ice broken, someone recites in gruff voice: “We pioneering pupils when the school was new, managing to gather just a ragged few. And what of absent, lucky rest? Too far afield, fully dead, AWOL….or in hospice slippers and Sunday best!” We all giggle loudly.
(Then a peanut thrown to attract attention starts a full-scale war, cherry soda and nibbles flying everywhere, midst whooping, squealing, pulling faces, staggering and tottering on spills; till a young Afro-Asian monitor in smart blue blazer and grey flannel shorts reports ‘the Headmaster’s not pleased!’ We quieten down, and regain our calm.)
And look on, as all around the playground wall, the glassed-roofed quadrangle slowly fills with teachers and pupils in expanding groups, progressing on from each table to the next, noticeably darker, younger, more UK global; triennium divisions noisily filling the assembly hall. (Two churlish toads, longstanding rivals for the ‘demure duchess’, man up….. truce broken, all Hell’s let loose again! Hahahaha!)
Told to leave quietly, we shuffle past the last two tables where all are clothed in equatorial robes; parents indignant, loudly jabbering in strange tongues, whose precocious small tadpoles reprimand us in perfect posh English: ‘No wonder you hang your heads in shame, you’ve behaved disgracefully – forget the centenary, we’ve black marked your names!’
Having suffered death, warlords, persecution, why should they pity our plundered souls? Those smart young kids are good for New Britain, and rightly ignorant of what we must think; we whose time has long since passed, who now, still chuckling, stroll on familiar streets, not, when as children, ambling homewards, but, returning back to fifty years on….. and loneliness.