….. but I’m afraid I’ve still got the teeniest, tiniest part of self-esteem and self-respect left. I’ve also realised, albeit belatedly, that I have limited time left on this planet. No, no I’m not terminally ill or anything – just getting older, practically by the minute.
But a reunion – really? I know that, for some people, it’s fun to see what’s happened to people they knew forty years ago. Some people love to listen to the heartaches and the tears, the joy of children brought into the world and sadly those who didn’t make it. They love to compare where you go on holiday, why you left your last job, how you ended up in Guantanamo Bay on a misunderstanding. But honestly – it’s not for me. I’m fifty-nine years old now and if there’s one thing life has taught me in those fifty-nine years is that I do not want to be stranded like some Robinson Crusoe / Victor Meldrew character on an island for several hours (which seems like several lifetimes) with people I have chosen, yes chosen, not to contact for a very, very good reason, for two thirds of my life. I really, really don’t need to be shown photos or videos of holidays, wives, husbands, cleaners, gardeners, children, homes, second homes, holiday homes, ‘the nice yurt we spent three months in when we ‘found ourselves’ in Turkmenistan’, cars, caravans, mid-life crisis motor bikes, pot-bellied pigs, cats or dogs – on the latest ipad, iphone 7 or Huawei P9 (Max).
I’m too old and too stubborn to willingly submit to that “hello, you haven’t changed at all” handshake. The thought of staring at someone trying desperately to think of an answer to an interrogation on the values of your life that begins with questions such as “So, what do you do now?”, “Are you married?”, “How did you find the food in prison?”,”Didn’t you used to be Byron Kalies?” or “Shit, what happened to your hair?” feels me with fifty shades of dismay.
I would like to say I’m too busy. I would like to say that I’m busy that evening on a bender with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jack Nicholson and Woody Allen drinking, doing drugs and chasing women in a downtown bar in Port Talbot. I would like to say that, but that couldn’t possibly be true – I’m not allowed back in Port Talbot after the incident involving Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the summer of 1986.
No, I’ll be at home – watching Coronation Street with the best company I could ever imagine – myself. Yes, you were right all along – “He was an egotistical, self-centred bastard forty years ago and he’s an egotistical self-centred bastard today.”
To be completely honest I do have one regret. I would have happily turned up if I could be assured that you are all fatter, more miserable, unluckier and poorer than me. If it could be guaranteed that at least half of you have only been released from prison for the day, and the rest of you have had to borrow the money for bus fare from your current probation officer. Alas, I know that it would be practically impossible for any of you to be on a lower social standing than myself. My dream was to be a writer. I am a prolific writer who last book sold fewer copies than Linda Wright’s ‘Toilet Paper Origami’ and Brugemmeier, Cioc and Zeller’s seminal work ,’How Green Were the Nazi’s’ combined.
I’m sure I have some hilarious stories and happy memories of school somewhere. There is a place deep, deep in my subconscious where memories exist of midnight feasts, Defence against the Dark Arts lessons, Olly asking for ‘more’ and jolly pranks throwing first years off the roof. However, I’m struggling desperately to remember the difference between Pontllanfraith Grammar Technical School, Greyfriars and Hogwarts. I do remember all the boys at school being taller than me, more handsome than me and having better haircuts than me. I also remember every one of the girls scaring the shit out of me. I assume none of that has changed. I certainly haven’t.
So it is with great reluctance that I really, truly, deeply, honestly, genuinely and sincerely can’t be arsed to travel the three and a quarter miles from my house to the pub to wallow in glorious memories of dorm raids, tuck shops, six of the best, quidditch and picking up the ball, running with it and inventing the game of rugby. Honestly, I remember practically nothing of my time at school. I remember vaguely there being teachers, walls, windows, bells ringing, floors, shoes, people with heads, chairs, unhappiness and frustration. Nowadays at the best of times I have a memory like a … oh you know, what do you call it. I barely remember my cat’s name now so the thought of trying to guess, give up, ask and then remember the names of people from four fifths of a century ago just seems like too much bloody hard work. I don’t do hard work anymore.
All the best and I do hope you have fantastic evening on this very important n (insert number here) th year of some memorable event. I won’t be able to make it this year, and probably next year, and quite possibly the year after, and so on and so on. However, please feel free to contact me for the oak anniversary.