Wednesday, 12 August 2009

School reunions - no, you don't have to be a bragger or a wallower

School reunions.

I know those words are enough to send a shiver down many a spine but in my opinion, school reunions are like pork scratchings – everyone should try them just once even if only to show you that you never, ever, want to go there again.

I was reminded of all this for two reasons this week.

First, was the news that Friends Reunited – which was THE social networking site for the over-25s while Facebook and Twitter were still just an electronic dream – was sold last week by ITV for a fraction of the price it had paid for it. The game was up for the site now, many pundits said. The site has been well and truly Twittered out of relevant existence.

I do hope not.

Secondly, I had my own mini-reunion last week when, for the first time in about four years, I managed to stand in the same room as some of my oldest, best friends after one of them flew in from America (where he now lives). It was great to see him and the rest of the chaps and it reminded me that one of the last times we had been together had been at . . . a school reunion.

I must confess I was in two minds about going to that school reunion which had been created because of Friends Reunited. In a mad last surge of youth, many of us had discovered that site and looked up old school mates again and it wasn't long (and it was probably inevitable) before the plan was hatched to all meet up.
Of course, logistically, this wasn’t going to be easy.

Of the 25-plus who eventually came, only four or five still lived in our old home town. A reunion therefore involved long car journeys, hotel stop- overs, flights, boat trips – the lot. In the words of the late, great John Hughes, who sadly left us last week, it was a case of ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ just to get us all there.

But I still had my doubts about going. I had kept in contact with three of my closest friends in the world because, well, they were three of my closest friends in the world, but (nearly) all the other invitees were just names from the past with no connection to my present or future. I had liked some of them a lot, of course, and just lost contact, but others were not quite on my Christmas card list even when I sat next to them. And I kept thinking ‘there is a good reason why you never kept in contact with them, you know.’

I was also somewhat put off by the dire warning of someone who said: “only two type of people go to school reunions – people who have had brilliant lives and want to gloat, and people who have had terrible lives and want to share their misery.”

Neither of these types of people – the braggers or the wallowers – appealed (and, lordy, lordy which was I?) but along with the aforementioned trio of lifelong friends, we bit the bullet and went.

And do you know what? I am just so glad we did. After initial nerves (yes, we nearly ran away at one point) we soon settled into a very pleasant evening where there was no “I’m so great, I now run ICI” types, and no “I am on my sixth divorce, and third bankruptcy” moaners either.

Everyone was just chilled, relaxed and genuinely pleased to see everyone again. All the talk (surprise, surprise), was about the past, not the present, because that was our link. And it was fun.

OK, truth be told I haven’t suddenly started contacting many of the ‘reunion-ites’ again but you can’t deny the ties that bind and it was great to reconnect for one night.

So, Friends Reunited, I do hope you rally under your new owners because I am sure you brought together an awful lot of people. And not all of them were braggers and wallowers.

1 comment:

Laura said...

*shudder* I'd rather scoop my eyeballs out with a spoon than go to my school reunion.