Why I played hooky from my old school re­union

Sunday Herald - - WEEK IN PERSPECTIVE - Hardeep Singh Kohli is a Scot­tish writer and broad­caster. Fol­low his an­tics @mis­terhsk

BIG Mick sent a What­sApp telling me that he and Richard T were def­i­nitely go­ing. Mon­ica the red­head had al­ready no­ti­fied me by Twit­ter that she would be in at­ten­dance. Miss Dunn had men­tioned it months ago when it had been posted on Face­book. Jac­qui “The Shark” (hav­ing changed her three-day trip to the Low Coun­tries) was fly­ing over from Done­gal to be in Glas­gow for less than 12 hours. And while Liz Good­stadt couldn’t make it, she’d emailed from Sydney ask­ing whether I was go­ing to be there. I most def­i­nitely wasn’t go­ing to be there. Let me ex­plain. I have known Mick, Richard, Mon­ica, Miss Dunn, The Shark and Aussie Liz since I was at school. Some, I have known since I was eight years old; oth­ers when I moved up to the “big school”. I see Miss Dunn of­ten and reg­u­larly; The Shark and I are in touch; Big Mick al­ways comes to see my Ed­in­burgh show; I bumped into Richard T at Hay­mar­ket sta­tion a few years back; I’m see­ing Mon­ica next week; and Aussie Liz and I are in touch via Face­book. Last night was our school re­union – re­unit­ing af­ter three decades of life spent away from St Aloy­sius’ Col­lege, Glas­gow. Guys, girls and ghosts gath­ered in Gar­nethill, many hav­ing never met in the in­ter­ven­ing time. There will have been looks of sur­prise, eyes open­ing with grad­ual recog­ni­tion and plenty of talk about trysts and love that had re­mained un­re­quited. Grey­haired, heav­ier-bod­ied and sag­gier-skinned, I’ve no doubt many will have had a great night. I just know that I would have. Much as I had a great time at school, much as I will al­ways have a ful­some fond­ness for my decade with the Je­suits, I can think of noth­ing worse than a school re­union.

Per­haps I sound rather anti-so­cial, dis­mis­sive and judg­men­tal. Maybe I am, but here’s the truth. Any­one from school that I have wanted to keep in touch with I am al­ready in touch with and they are in my life; and there are a few that have slipped through the net who I have con­tacted.

Here’s a thought. Who do you reckon will have been there last night? I’m fairly cer­tain that it will only be those who went on to achieve, the pos­i­tive sto­ries. That seems to be the na­ture of these assem­bles. I’m sure my old school pals, most of whom were fine, up­stand­ing peo­ple, will have a good time; but there would have been be no short­age of suc­cess-swap­ping, karma-com­par­ing and money-men­tion­ing.

Re­unions are self-se­lect­ing. Those who go are only the ones who re­ally want to go, those with some­thing to say. Those who were al­ways go­ing to achieve will show up to share their achieve­ments; and those who were underrated and writ­ten off will be there to prove a point and right per­ceived wrongs.

Do you ever think you would see that one guy that you all knew would end up be­ing a guest of Her Majesty, show­ing up with an elec­tronic tag and hav­ing to leave before dessert in or­der that he com­plies with the re­quire­ments of his sen­tence?

How about that kid who was sus­pended for drink­ing at the school disco and vom­it­ing in the mid­dle of the gym hall dur­ing The Cure’s Love Cats? Or what about that girl whose life was made a daily, weekly, monthly mis­ery by an army of bul­lies that ru­ined her teenage years?

Do you reckon any of them would show up at a school re­union?

That’s my is­sue. If my school re­union had been a gen­uine gath­er­ing of all those who spent a decade to­gether, the peo­ple who re­mind us of the good, that help us re­call the bad and make us con­front our own ugly, maybe then I would go. That would seem more like a re­union rather than an ex­cuse for the boast­ful and bom­bas­tic to boast and be bom­bas­tic.

I was very lucky. I went to school with some gen­uinely good folk and a few I hope never to see again. But I re­ally don’t need a night of nos­tal­gia, full of maudlin mo­ments and whis­pered “what ifs” sur­rounded by strangers I once knew, and peo­ple that I thought I knew who are now strangers.

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