Friday, March 17, 2006

What happened to you? Whatever happened to me?

The same people appear in my dreams with depressing regularity. Teenagers I went to school with and haven't seen for 26 years. In the dreams, we're all in our twenties and we're having a kind of school reunion. I say nothing, drink a few pints of lager and wake up with indigestion.

I make myself ill because I don't want to see these people. I don't want to know they've made a success of their lives. I don't want to know that their game plan has worked, that their chosen career path has led them in the direction they always wanted to go.

I'm not a member of Friends Reunited but I know someone who is. And every now and then I take a peek at my year at my old school. Just to be nosey. The boys' self portraits go something like this:-

"After leaving school, I travelled round South Africa for a year, met some wonderful people, came back to Southampton University, met some wonderful people including my future wife and my future business partner, Michael Dawson. The business has gone fantastically well and we have four lovely children."

So you're happy but you miss those shitty school days, do you? The worst years of our lives? Don't tell me you actually enjoyed them!

Or am I wrong and they were the best years of our lives? My dad always used to say they were. School followed by National Service. "Great years, Geoff. Great times. You may think you're having a bad time of it now but when you're my age you'll look back on today as a golden time."

Well now I am his age and I'm happier than I've ever been. And I still hate the memory of school. And National Service?

Sergeant Crumb made my life a misery. A misery, I tell you! He used to make me scrub his scaly back with a toothbrush at 2 am every Friday. He'd sneak up to my bed, place his hand over my mouth and whisper in my ear, "Private's time for a little plaque removal. Don't forget to bring Tony."

He'd lead me to his Sergeants' mess, remove his nightgown, and sit like Christine Keeler on his dressing table chair. I'd remove Tony Toothbrush from his vanity bag, coat his bristles with calamine lotion, and gently scrape away Sergeant Crumb's army fatigue deep into the night.

On Friends Reunited, if you click on my all-boys school, my year, there is a boy called Georgina. A few years ago my sister must've been noseying around and accidentally left her maiden name there. So any of my old classmates who happens across this entry could be thinking, "I remember Geoff as a fresh faced young man. I didn't fancy him then, but I quite like the idea of him as a woman. I do hope he gets in touch."



  1. Someone I was at school with has just retired as chief executive of a building society.
    I thank God every day that nothing so horrific happened to me.
    My entry at Friends Reunited is repeated at the "about the author" page on my website.
    Surprisingly very few people at FR have initiated contact with me.

  2. I am a member but did give up for a year as nobody else seemed to have done anything about answering any of my attempts at contact. Maybe it's because I've revelled openly in my under-achievement. Some things are quite disconcerting: Wooshty Harris became a pilot. He could barely stay on his Honda. We also have a girl, Chaylee. And Jesus.

  3. Vicus - If someone from my school had described themselves the way you have I might have joined up myself. But all I can see is boasting.

    Richard - I think I'm an under-achiever but I'd need confirmation from one of the teachers. But I don't think big things were expected of me. Maybe they used to discuss me in the staff room - "I expect small things from that boy." Shouldn't Jesus be on Saviours Resurrected?

  4. Geoff, no money in it. Anyway, he says his dad has an omnipresence that saves on the hosting fees.

    I once saw the notes made on me after a (successful, I must add) job interview 22 years ago. "Will never set the world on fire." The interviewer remains a friend to this day but I've never challenged him on it, mainly because I knew exactly what he meant.

  5. I occasionally lurk on Friends Reunited for a laugh. The entry of everyone in my class usually goes something like this:

    I'm still living three yards from the school. I have five kids and have been divorced twice. I drive a van for Tesco's.

    Never fails to cheer me up.

  6. Geoff! I had a missive from Friends Reunited today (you're starting to scare me now...) saying that my boarding school was having a reunion. The thing is it close down about 15 years ago. How sad is that?

  7. Richard - "Will never set the world on fire" is really a compliment. It means you're not an arsehole.

    Wyndham - I'm still living 3 yards from my school which is another reason why I haven't joined up.

    Caroline - You mean you're not going? You party pooper, go and book those plane tickets now!

  8. Geoff, I think the word is "arsonist". I have been called an arsehole on several occasions but never an arsonist.

  9. Hey, I went to last one...

  10. I have no need to go to my high school reunions. Most of the people I went to school with were morons who fell for the whole rock and roll/Satanic Panic thing back in the day and thought that I was a satan worshipper. Literally. Because I was into hard rock music. What a bunch of morons! Then there's always the psycho that I was friends with for 18 years until she went over the edge and started sending me messages where she'd cut words and letters from newspapers and magazines to threaten and insult me. Does anyone else end up with people like this in their life, or is it just me???
    Maybe I should just combine the two horrific scenarios and should sacrifice the psycho woman to Satan while listening to some AC/DC at full volume.
    The good old days? Feh! I'm happy as can be to leave 'em in the past!
    Sorry...your post inspired this little rant. I really didn't know I was quite that bitter about my classmates!