Posted by: ronontheroad | July 5, 2014

A reunion

Recently I attended a school reunion for the first time.

I will admit to being a little uncertain about this – would I know anyone, were they all hugely successful, would I be out of place?

I didn’t have the most auspicious start to the day – a random stone cracked my windscreen on the way up the motorway, and the coffee shop that we were going to meet at didn’t exist (wrong chain! ), but I arrived in the city centre in plenty of time.

So I popped into a local church – one that I used to visit every Tuesday to listen to a lunchtime organ recital. It was stepping back in time for me (photos), much of the church is unchanged being a historic church of just over 300 years. I used to sit in a pew next to the organ console – and it was the place where I did my one and only paid gig as a chorister. The free Tuesday lunchtime recitals have been running for a long time – possibly since late 19th century. I like things that have some continuity like that.

Walking around the block looking for the coffee shop, I bumped into a couple of people who were looking for the same place and, a little out of character, asked if they were going to the reunion. Strolling back to the big coffee shop, we found a group of people recognised from the Facebook group – including one of my classmates.

Coffee, catch up,  and ice broken, I felt somewhat more relaxed,  andcwe ambled to the school (not too far away) not wanting to get a late mark!

On the way I was surprised (!) to see tha a 16th century building had moved a significant distance. Not faulty memory (being in the city centre and walking past the location where the building is now located, every school day for 9 years, you could say I was familiar with the area), but the building had indeed moved. Not the only change to the city centre.

Just as I arrived at the school gates, I was greeted by one of my school friends – another organist – and more than anything,  that made me feel at home. Thirty five years of working life to catch up, but also musing and reminiscing: remembering teachers and classmates; re-living shared experiences.

I heard that for most people going into the Baronial Hall comment on how like Harry Potter [movie set] it is. For me, HP reminds me of school – some of the buildings date from the early fifteenth century.

In the last nearly 600 years, there have been many changes, the most significant being the school’s re-foundation as a “hospital” – residential school for (40) poor boys – in the mid seventeenth century, and  as a specialist co-ed (after 350 years they allowed girls in!) music school. But many of the old buildings are unchanged in many ways, although as a living school the use of buildings changed over the years. And there are new buildings (photos
)

There were many highlights: meeting some members of staff; hearing stories from “old boys” – some of the alumni were there in the 1950s; looking around the old buildings; visiting the new teaching block and concert hall; enjoying a recital be current students.

Nostalgia may not be what it used to be, but there are times when it’s important to visit the past. Sometimes it may be painful remembering things that caused pain at the time or the cause of something we have carried on life’s journey, and it may be issues need to be dealt with. Maybe I was fortunate that most of my memories were positive, and I know that others carry around pain for which there may be no closure.

Afterwards,  a large group of us went for a drink, before heading to a meal – and more stories shared.  Remembering the “Tudor uniform” that we had to wear for special occasions, surprising details long buried, classes and teachers, the antics that we got away with (or not).

Maybe our time and our school was special. The magic was probably not the buildings, wonderful though some of them were, but the people. In the course of the day not only did we reconnect, and indeed connect for the first time, we relived a significant portion of our lives.

Best thing though – there was no one upmanship.

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