Next month I will be going along to a reunion with some old friends and acquaintances from Worple Road Primary School at an Isleworth pub (the reunion is at the pub, not the school). I am really looking forward to it.
Most of those who will be attending weren't in the same year as me, and I probably didn't spend a great deal of time in their immediate company even when I was at school. Nevertheless there is something about the distant past, almost like a gravitation pull of some indescribable kind, which draws me to places and people with whom I spent my formulative years. It's like when I made certain fateful decisions towards the end of the 1970s which were to take me along an erroneous and destructive path for such a very long time a part of me stubbornly refused to join me on this hellish adventure, opting instead to sit back and wait for me to make a safe return to the sanity and security of my childhood days when I had compassion in my heart and the tuneful ditties of the day in my mind and in my soul.
It was one of those friends (who was in my class) who remarked on Facebook recently that there is something uniquely special about the friends we grew up with, and that is so true. As children we see things differently - colours are more vivid, shapes and textures more pronounced. We also "learn" things together which the adult world takes for granted. Innocent things have their own importance and the absence of the cares and concerns of adulthood help us to truly absorb the beauty of all that is around us.
There is a lump in my throat as I write this, so pleasantly unsettled am I by the thought of this impending coming together late in November.
I attended reunions from Isleworth Grammar School in 2001 and Worple Road again in 2002 and they were fantastic and memorable events, but there is something about this one which promises even more. Maybe it is the urgency of the situation that we all feel as we race relentlessly through our fifties. Let's face it, some of our number are now almost within touching distance of retirement!
The only thing that compares with it for me was a series of reunions that I enjoyed with some old friends from my Church youth club back in 1990/91. The down side of those - even those, in the company of my dearest and most treasured friends from the most unique and wonderful period of my life - was the feeling of raw emptiness they left in their wake when the evening was over and everybody had gone their separate ways. We coped with this only by organising repeat reunions, each with less novelty appeal than the last, until one day we all simultaneously kind of dropped the idea.
I don't think that will happen this time. We are a spiritual diaspora, spread around the UK and even the world. We cannot get together every month or two on a whim, even if we wanted to. But neither, I hope, will we leave it another twelve years.