With mixed emotions, I returned to my old school in Wokingham for a reunion. The “Old Girls” association had organised a lunch and my friend had casually suggested that it would be a good idea. I signed up with much excitement and then reflected on my decision. How would it feel to be back at school, how would it feel to see old classmates from “Weavers 1980-1987”? What has everyone been doing and how did we all drift apart?
School has always held very happy memories for me. I enjoyed learning most subjects (maths perhaps being the exception) and homework was never really a chore. Perhaps it was easier back then to settle into homework with less outside distractions? My school was near the town, a good mile and a half walk there and back with a quick stop on the way home for a quarter of aniseed balls at the shop.
The Holt School is an old grammar school and is an all girls school. Again, this probably helped my studies as it wasn’t until the Sixth Form when I met boys through school productions and my Saturday job and my grades crumbled a little. There was always a clamour to be in the school drama and music productions so as to meet the boys from the local all boys’ school. Luckily, I passed the auditions, my defining moment being a punk “First fairy” in a modern day version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Such fun.
My class was a fairly tight knit group of fairly bookish or academic girls and very little trouble. I don’t recall ever having a detention – what a swot I was. Our antics were more Enid Blyton style than Waterloo Road. I remember much laughter, friendship and solidarity. Packed lunches of hazelnut yoghurts, Dairylea cheese spread sandwiches and Skips crisps with a bottle of orange squash. Cold days on the sports field (not my forte) in our big PE pants and aertex T-shirts and lessons in the dreaded Home Economics rooms, with two terrifying teachers who made us write down recipes in silence.
The reunion day came, and I have to admit to having felt a little nervous. There were nine from my class, some of whom I hadn’t seen for 33 years. Yet, within seconds we were all hugging and, albeit a little rounder and maybe smarter, right back to where we had left off all that time ago. Much chatter and laughter.
We had a lovely lunch, (although I chose not to sit by our old headmistress who had always terrified me), but the best part came later with the tour of the school. Very little had changed. We laughed in the gym at our pathetic efforts to climb the ropes, (I never quite made more than one foot’s distance up the rope), the dreaded showers, and the gorgeous art rooms – one of my personal favourite places. Best of all, we managed to find our old classroom. Time was stripped away. We all sat at our old desks and posed for photos and the memories came flooding in…”do you remember the time when…” Everything was the same, the desks, the room, the smells and the sounds. A time warp of very fond memories and over far too quickly.
Although we have all changed, and over the years there has been hardship, illness, bereavements, divorces, it was lovely to hear how well and happy my old friends were and to admire their pictures of children (no grandchildren quite yet!)
We are all going to keep in touch and very much hope that the next reunion will be well before 33 years apart. Mind you, the sight of nine old eighty-somethings wandering round the school with sticks and Zimmer frames is a fun image!
Fiona Kellow is a working mum of two. When she isn’t running around after her family she is a Partner at Thrings Solicitors, specialising in family law.