Last Saturday's reunion of my old classmates and schoolmates from Isleworth Grammar School (which went on to merge with Syon to form today's Isleworth and Syon School) at the Old Isleworthians' Club was similar but different in equal measure.
I suppose I must have been a clever pupil at one point, otherwise I guess I would never have ended up at IGS, a selective state school, in the first place. All the same no sooner had I breached its varnished wooden portals than I resolved of an instant to clown around and to get as little schoolwork done as I could get away with, the result being the rescheduling of earlier aspirations to Oxbridge into scraping an entry to Manchester Polytechnic and thereafter flunking my first-year exams on account of the fact that I had barely set foot in the building, let alone opened a book, in all the time I was there.
So when tales were exchanged amongst the curious little circles that formed, broke up and then regrouped with an altered line-up, of the things we had achieved
And it wasn't too daunting, to be honest. In truth I'd been a councillor the last time most of us were gathered, back in 2002, which although not a career as such was as good a talking point as any. So rather than having started at the bottom and worked my way up, like so many of them, I could feasibly say I had started somewhere in the middle and worked my way down.
What struck me was the warmth, the charisma and the generosity of spirit that each and every one of my old school friends exuded. Perhaps the often clumsy approach to character building on the part of our old masters at which we had for so long scoffed had had something about it after all? It was throughout the whole of the evening a wonderful experience, and truly surreal.
We were a bit light on numbers considering that most of us as I write remain on this side of the mortal divide, and we were grateful for the presence of several of the old girls (that is old in the sense of having been "former") from the Green School, with whom those with an inclination to drama or to sport had spent much of their sixth form, although I didn't really know them other than latterly as contributors to the various
We dispersed amid a fond discussion about when we might do it again. Another thirteen years seems far too long as time and age power relentlessly on. Living in Isleworth an annual event would seem ideal to me. To those who had travelled further for the gig, one of them from California, probably less so.
More than ever before I feel the need to be firmly rooted in my roots. One of my old classmates admitted to me that at school he used to consider me obnoxious. I told him he had probably been a sound judge.
I'm sure I would have enjoyed senior school much more had I not played the fool, but I always enjoyed the company of those around me. What a fantastic evening last Saturday was. Special thanks to Richard Andrews (no relation) for laying it on once again.
Photos courtesy of Malc Shaw