From young boys at infant school to old boys down the pub
IT is a dreary winter's day. Half a dozen of us are sitting around the fireplace at the Old Spa Inn in Abbey Street.
The fire isn't actually switched on, but that is our fault. The young woman behind the bar has offered but we are warm enough, thanks. We have, though, asked her to turn down the volume on the television because Prime Minister's Questions is drowning our conversation. The young woman obliges.
Sixty-three years earlier, we were also together in one room – but then all rather terrified. Just across the road and up the hill, we were in the early stages of our days at Becket Infant School, in Gerard Street.
Clement Attlee was the Prime Minister then, Winston Churchill Leader of the Opposition. But there was no chance that anyone in the Spa, or anywhere else outside the House of Commons, would be troubled by questions put to the Prime Minister. In 1950, they didn't broadcast Parliament. We were probably listening to Music and Movement.
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In the intervening years, a lot has happened to us. For a start, since leaving Becket in 1956, most of us haven't seen each other.
We've been busy – different schools, building careers, getting married, raising families.
In 2013, though, we've nothing better to do than meet up again and reminisce. And it's nice to be with people who still refer to the radio as "the wireless", use "railway station" rather than "train station", and don't exclaim "OMG!" at every opportunity.
Val remembers where we sat in the classroom. But there were 40 pupils altogether, and even our combined efforts can't name them all. There were, apparently, those who made no impression whatsoever. They came and went and we can't remember them. Which is sad. But here we were. The survivors.
Earlier in the day, I'd met Stan off his train. He lives part of his year in London, the rest in Tokyo.
I've told you about Stan: he worked for MI6, was a successful banker in Hong Kong and then wrote best-selling crime novels. Not bad for a lad from Becket Junior Boys.
We yarned a lot. Mostly about school but also about what had happened to us since. When we strayed on to illness, Stan decreed that next time we meet, we use an egg timer. Once the sand has fallen – three minutes is plenty long enough – you will have to shut up and give the next person a chance to say to which particular ailments they are martyred.
Rick – who has the most hair, his sideburns making him look like an old Rocker, which I suppose he is – still works, three hours a week at a driving job but seems to spend most of his time at car boot sales and on eBay.
Val, who spent 19 years working in A&E at the old DRI, also still works, but now in a pub. Stan is going to teach English to the Japanese. Rosey is busy with her interest in antiques. Stuart, who for 34 years was a Derby bobby, just loves life and will never become bored. I'm busy organising our next get-together, and keeping you appraised.
None of us, it seems, have time to listen to PMQs.