Category Archives: memories

Class of ’82


In a fit of document management on my laptop, I have just come across the post below, which I wrote about 5 years ago and never published! Having re-read it I decided that it was still relevant (if we ignore the current Covid situation!) and good enough to share, so here you go…enjoy.

My past is coming back to haunt me. Much as I try to be a “live for today” and  “looking forward to the future” kind of gal, there are times in a life when it is impossible to avoid being retrospective, and recently I have been reflecting upon my youth and pondering how I came to be where I am today. Where that is, incidentally, is hunched over a keyboard, squinting through my new varifocals and fighting off the mild panic that usually accompanies the realisation that another 12 months has passed without my achieving even a quarter of my goals for the year. Did I say “goals”? Sorry, a slip of the digital tongue, I meant “vague and loosely formed ambitions” (which is probably why they are unfulfilled). I digress (as ever). Getting to the point…the catalyst for this particular pre-occupation with times gone by, was receiving an invitation to a school reunion, and seeing photos of reunion guests as they were then and as they are now.

When an old school friend first alerted me to the reunion I was intrigued and excited. I hoped to be able to find some of those other friends who had been so important to me in my youth, but with whom I had lost touch in the pre- email/mobile telephone/social networking days of the 1980’s.  I have inordinately fond memories of my social circle at that time, when my friends were of considerably more importance to me than my family.  Learning how to build relationships outside of my immediate family and beginning to understand that different people had different ways of doing things, of looking at the world and of interacting with each other, was a revelation. 

Sadly, very few of my close circle of friends from that time seemed to have been located and invited. Perhaps this tells me something about the sort of people I liked even then, the ones who were too busy getting on with life to worry about social networking and the ones who wanted to escape the claustrophobia of small town Lincolnshire. The balance of attendees I knew, liked and cared about versus those I didn’t, seemed to be very much tilted towards the latter, so the fact that I was unable to attend the reunion itself was not too disappointing.

Some of the names and faces on the old photographs on the reunion website inspired big grins and clichéd outbursts in the vein of “OMG!” whilst others left me with a slightly worrying blankness… I recognised names but not faces, and vice versa. Most worryingly there were some I simply failed to recognise and had no memory of at all.  How could I not remember two of the three peers who went to Oxbridge? I had always thought (mistakenly obviously) that I had hung around with the smartest, brightest kids at school, but I drew a complete blank on the faces before me. 

If looking at old photos was baffling then trying to identify people from their more recent pictures was alarming as everyone looked so damned middle-aged. Who’d have thought it?! I asked my husband if I looked as old as the people on the screen and he resolutely denied it, assuring me that I had aged very well and still looked beautiful. Not that I believed him for a minute. He is unerringly kind, tactful and diplomatic (reason number 5 of 500 why I married him). And he hasn’t noticed my lost youth and vitality because he has grown old with me over the past 38 years, bless him.

Even so, there were some rather well-worn and even downright scary looking faces amongst my peers on the reunion website. I suspect that many of these were people who had never left the local area and whose lives accelerated through marriage, parenthood, grandparenthood and divorce and actual hard graft, because there was so little else to do in our small Lincolnshire town. I am not ashamed of where I come from but I am glad that I left and have no desire to ever return to live there.

On the plus side, I was very grateful for the opportunity to catch up with at least some of the people I had always liked, but lost touch with and wondered about over the years.  Corresponding with someone who actually was in my inner circle of close friends during my formative teenage years, recognising his voice and sense of humour from the words in his email transported me back to my youth in an instant. It was delightful to hear from him and remind myself why we had been part of the same clique.

I also received messages from two of my very favourite teachers from that time and have enjoyed exchanging updates and catching up with them. I am thrilled that I have had the opportunity to let them both know how fondly I remember them and how much I enjoyed their lessons. I studied with each of them for the four year period covering my O and A levels and, like my close friends from that time, they were a big influence on my development. I have my English teacher, Mr Allen P, to thank not only for my lifelong love of literature, but for teaching me to try to see the world from a different perspective, to understand that beauty is a subjective concept and to question and challenge everything. Whereas my German teacher, Mr Brian P, taught me that teachers are human and have a sense of humour too (it’s true!) I distinctly remember our (very small) A level class trying to divert him off topic from classical German literature (possibly “Immensee” by Theodore Storm) and onto anecdotes of his student days. I have never known anyone laugh so much and so freely. I chose to continue German rather than French at A level, purely because Mr Peatty made the subject much more interesting and fun, than my other teacher had with French. Although I confess I remember nothing of “Immensee”, except for a scene involving a lake with water lillies, but then again that might have been in “Die Leiden Des Jungen Werthe” which I had to read at Uni for my German subsidiary.

So there you go – the reasons for my recent period of reflection and nostalgia. I will sign off with a quote from one of my favourite films, which seems quite apt. A round of applause to those who can name it…

You know, when you started getting invited to your ten year high school reunion, time is catching up.

Are you talking about a sense of my own mortality or a fear of death?

Well, I never really thought about it quite like that.

Did you go to yours?

Yes, I did. It was just as if everyone had swelled.

Christmas Post…

You may have noticed that my writing productivity has reduced year on year (no shit Sherlock) and I have no one to blame but myself. The excuses I have rolled out in the past (see the aptly named “Excuses, Excuses”) are still applicable but I guess the single biggest cause is my own lack of self-discipline.

The only reason I have put virtual pen to paper now is because I have been shamed into it by a newcomer to my blog, a work colleague in the team I joined 2 months ago. So Mickey, this one is for you. I hope you appreciate the pressure and stress you have burdened me with, to produce 1000+ words, a week before Christmas. I return the guilt you have smashed into my court for my failure to write anything new, with a backhand slice in the top corner for bullying me into a new blog. Thanks a lot.

Seriously though, it is great to hear the feedback of a new reader and does inspire me to start waffling again. Waffle being the operative word as I have no clue how I am going to fill the page this time. In the early days when I was writing, oooh let’s say 6 or 7 times a year, I maintained a mental list of topics I thought might be interesting to delve into. But I seem to have lost the habit. I did actually begin a post in October, after a particularly inspiring trip to Rhossili Bay in South Wales. I managed to produce a half page that I was reasonably happy with and resolved to complete the piece before the end of the year. I wrote about how totally stunning and beautiful the landscape was, even in the appalling, squally aftermath of Storm Brian and how I find coastlines and beaches wonderfully calming and good for the soul, irrespective of the weather conditions.  I was feeling quite pleased with it and thought I had made a great start to what could have been a rather lovely and gentle exploration of how the natural world makes me happy.

Rhossili Oct 2017

Rhossili Bay under the tail end of Storm Brian, October 2017

I am sure you have guessed there is a “but” on its way here and indeed there is. The work is gone, lost, disappeared and nowhere to be found. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-post. I have no doubt that this is due to my own technological incompetence and that I have somehow failed to save my work or have misfiled it somewhere. Very frustrating. And now, instead of conjuring images of big, glowering skies, rolling, white-tipped waves and facially exfoliating walks along wide, windswept beaches, you have this poor excuse for a pre-Christmas blog. But a promise is a promise (curse you Mickey) and so as we rapidly approach the climax of eating, drinking and making merry, I will share a seasonal memory or two.

When my son D was five years old we took him on a trip to Lapland to see Father Christmas. It was the most fantastic, magical experience and I enjoyed it almost as much as he did. Lots of snow activities (riding in a reindeer drawn sleigh, racing through a lantern lit forest on a husky drawn sled, sledging and a snow mobile ride), not to mention seeing the Northern Lights, visiting the Elves’ toy workshop, Santa’s Post Office and meeting the Big Man himself.

Lapland 3

Meeting the man himself in Lapland

At one point, our tour guide asked D what he wanted for Christmas. My then Harry Potter obsessed son replied “…a Nimbus 2000”. Blank faces all around. The guide follows up with “what is a Nimbus 2000?” to which he replied, with a distinct note of incredulity in his voice, “it’s the fastest broomstick in the world of course!” Much hilarity from the other parents in the group, and a mental note to myself for the top tip gift idea.

Fast forward ten days to 25th December and D is over the moon with the Harry Potter paraphernalia provided by Father Christmas. He dons the Gryffindor cape, the glasses and waves the wand with glee before mounting the much desired Nimbus 2000 and rushing into the hallway. After 30 seconds of running around excitedly, suddenly there are floods of tears because the “fastest broomstick in the world” doesn’t actually fly…Hubby and I go from smugness to guilt faster in the blink of an eye. We try to explain that it was just a toy and that broomsticks don’t really fly. D sniffles that, as he had been to the North Pole and seen the real Father Christmas, he thought that Santa might have “sprinkled some of the magic dust that makes the reindeer fly” upon it.  Guilt times ten and a real struggle to wriggle out of that one. I think I babbled something about magic dust being in short supply with all rations needed at Christmas to make sure all of the presents were delivered. Combined with other distraction techniques we did manage to stop the tears and enjoy the rest of that particular Christmas but boy was it an example of pride before a fall.

Christmas 2016 was memorable for another reason. For many years my husband has made a half dozen or so Christmas puddings for family and friends, using an old recipe handed down his parents’ line. He enjoys doing it and for him it is the star of the Christmas day feast.

The K Clan Xmas Pud recipe

Love the old lady handwriting…

Last year we travelled to North Tyneside to spend the holidays with his side of the family. It was only as we were preparing to go to bed on Christmas Eve that he realised, oh calamity, that we had forgotten to bring the blessed pud with us from our home 160 miles away. He was devastated and our “don’t worry, we won’t starve” and “there are plenty of other sweet things we can eat” did little to sooth his bitter disappointment. Such is the esteem in which this family recipe is held that he decided, unbeknownst to everyone except me, to save Christmas! He set off home at 4 am on Christmas morning, making good time on the deserted motorways, showered, shaved, dressed properly at home and made the trip back with the pudding, while we were still in our pyjamas. Christmas was back on track and boy did that pudding taste good.

Well Mickey I hope you are happy. You may be new to the world of work in a big corporate environment but you already know how to press someone to meet a deadline, even if the end result is somewhat mediocre compared to what might have been.  Well done, you will go far my friend 😉

No idea when I will next write but if my latest blog follower keeps nagging me it may be sooner that you think. In the interim I wish you all a very merry Christmas and health and happiness for 2018. Enjoy creating the memories.