The majority of people I knew left school in 1993. Some of us stayed until 1995. I don’t really like to think about how long ago that actually is. I’ve never been too bothered by the idea of a school reunion. I always thought it would be a bit weird. Lots of trying to work out who anyone is, and lots of avoiding arch nemeses. I’m still in touch with my closest friends from that time, and Facebook keeps me in vague (stalker-like) contact with the rest.
However, whilst visiting the childhood home over Christmas, I went to one of our favourite pubs, The Doralt, with a couple of my old time besties. Not that they look old in any way. All three of us will look 18 forever- we have decided.
During our usual catch-up and reminisce, we started wondering what had happened to all the various characters of our year. That, coupled with the fact that my parents will be moving soon, got us thinking about a reunion. I knew I would be coming back to clear out my old bedroom during the February half-term, so we thought we would do a Facebook call-out and see what happened. We decided it would be best to keep it casual, so planned to have it just at The Doralt. It was, after all, the place we all frequented as soon as we were 18 (and possibly before that). We would play pool, take part in quizzes, drink and catch up with friends. It was the favourite hangout on Christmas Eve, and would often result in a drunken walk through the dark fields back to my house for karaoke and late night snacks.
I sent out an invite to a few people and told them to invite anyone else they were still in touch with. Overnight the invite list went from 30 to 130. I briefly panicked. The vague number I’d given The Doralt was 20. However, because we had to hold the event on a Sunday (don’t mess with the rugby schedule), most people were unable to come. It was a shame not to see some of the old crowd but I don’t know how we would have all fitted into the tiny room we’d booked.
Claire did a fantastic job of sorting out the buffet and making sure money was collected and returned accordingly. I’d had a few too many proseccos to manage anything so complicated. I rewarded her with a frog hat we’d worn in a school production.
Everybody looked a bit nervous at first, but before long people were sharing old stories; discussing old crushes; laughing about the times they were in trouble; and talking about favourite teachers and trips. It was a lovely atmosphere. People were genuinely really pleased to see each other, and hear about the different paths life has taken them. One of my favourite moments was when someone realised the guy they were talking to was actually an old boyfriend. He asked her out at the beginning of an English lesson and by the end of it, they’d broken up. I didn’t like to ask why. It was probably over a subordinating conjunction.
I’m really glad we organised the mini-reunion and I would absolutely do it again. School days were such a long time ago and everyone has changed so much, yet it’s wonderful to meet someone and feel like no time has passed at all. Let’s not leave it 24 years next time.