Towards the end of 2002 I arrived home from work one day for my wife to tell me I had had a telephone call - from a Greg Hickman
I thought I remembered that name from some distant past ! - but surely it couldn't be - Could it ?
"He said he would ring again later dear !"
Sure enough - the phone rang later and it really was Greg (who I last heard of 35 years ago !) and we were on the phone for over an hour - exchanging information and updating each other on our activities during the intervening years.
Wow ! - what an effort this guy had put in over the last year or so - chasing folks up and attempting to contact everyone from our year at school - over a 100 of the 148 from our year had been contacted.
A reunion with around 20 folks present had been held the previous March and a second one was planned for March 2003 when it was hoped that most of the school year would be able to get together again.
So - we finally rang off that night with me promising to go along to the next reunion.
After 3 months I then received an email from Greg confirming the reunion was to be held at the White House on the first Saturday in March - he had now contacted over 120 from our year !!
The White house is the pub that everyone used to sneak out of school to !
I knew I had to go to the reunion but what would it be like seeing folks from so long ago ? - I was certainly more and more nervous about the idea as the day got nearer and I reckon all I needed at the time was the smallest excuse to not go
So - March 1st arrived and I packed some of my stuff in the car
"Have a nice day dear !" - "You wonít be too late will you ?" - "Drive Carefully !" and "Behave Yourself ! - youíre not at school any more you know !"
"This is strange !" - I drive up to Aldridge and past the old school to the White House - "Its already past one-o-clock but I think Iíll have another drive around to put it off for a bit longer"
I drive round a bit and see a few more old memories and get back to the White House just after 1:30 - "I think Iíll park up there in the corner, hidden behind that van, and read my book for a bit so I can watch whatís going on !"
"Hey - thereís an old guy over there in an old school blazer - getting stuff out of a car !"
I looked at myself in the rearview mirror - "Ok - perhaps that guyís not so old !" - "I suppose I should go in and see whatís going on"
Feeling like a lump of Jelly, and with my folder of photos etc.. under my arm, I walked in through the front doors of the pub and looked around.
"Thereís a lot of people in here"
- "I donít recognise anybody though"
- "Perhaps our group havnít arrived yet"
- "I think Iíll go back out to the car and read for
a bit longer" - "Why are all those folks
over there looking at me ?" - "Why are
they all saying my name" - "Where can
I run to ?"
At last - I could relax - Iíd got over the final hurdle and everyone was so friendly !
What a fantastic day it was -I thought the hours would drag but in the 8 hours I was up there I only managed to really chat with about half the folks I would have like to have done. And I can see why folks stayed overnight - I was quite jealous when I had to leave for the journey home at around nine-o-clock in the evening and those folks could carry on for a few more hours.
And what about all the memories !
I donít think I realised just how many friends I had at school - it was fantastic talking to folks and them saying "do you remember when we ----- ?" and gradually the memories (and the faces) came back - folks I played cricket with - and tennis - and ran cross country with - and flew model aircraft with - and . . . .
I met one girl, at the reunion, who I remember thinking was petty wonderful when I was about 14. She wouldnít sit by me in class but, in one class, (canít remember subject or teacher - can anyone ?) she sat at the very front right with me sitting at the back and I discovered that this particular teacher would punish folks who talked in class by making them sit on the floor at the front of class. So - at least I could spend half a lesson sitting by her - even if I was on the floor ! (trouble was - I then got into trouble for talking to her when I was sitting there on the floor - that spoilt all my plans)
Then there was another girl I sat with while we had supper - She had a welsh accent and I didnít really remember any welsh folk at school - but I was somehow sureI knew her quite well. Gradually it dawned on me who I was talking to - I reckon I was 15 when I might well have gone out and run a four minute mile for her as well - "but I donít remember this lovely Welsh accent !" - 35 years changes a lot doesnít it ?
The reunion really was fantastic and I would recommend anyone with doubts to give one a try - I would certainly support another get together - I know a number of us will now also make individual contact as well following on from that day.
A special thanks to Greg for all the tremendous work he has put in for all our benefit
Please send in your photos or scanned memorabilia etc... so we can fill this site and share our memories - I can scan photos, negatives, aps film cartridges, slides or documents
(and I'd also like to scan school blazer badges and ties etc... so - if anyone has such things ?)