Funny how a couple of disconnected incidents can suddenly create that Proustian moment.
I had a twice postponed meeting with a rep. from our software providers on Thursday, in the end, because of the potential merger that is still in the air, we spent most of the hour discussing football, football coaching, managing, playing and refereeing - well most things are more interesting than the finer points of a cloud based two office file sharing arrangement aren't they? It was an enjoyable meeting none the less and he happened to mention that he was coaching at a club in Wales part-time, part of the academy, and we talked about how some players look good at a certain age and then fade whilst others are late starters. I happened to mentioned a friend of mine from secondary school who was one of the best players I had seen, not just for our age group but technically all age groups, and how one day he simply stopped playing football without any apparent reason.
In the evening I happened to be reading the local newspaper and in among the legal notices, force of habit checking for possible clients who have died, I saw a notice from a solicitor asking if anybody had an interest in a deceased's estate could they contact etc. The date of death was 12th February 2013 (my birthday) and the deceased was the same person I had mentioned to the IT guy above. It brought me up short. I had lost three friends whilst still at school, all killed in road accidents, but this was the first death of a close school friend I was aware of during adulthood - not bad considering it's thirty six years this May since I left school but still a relatively young age to die. I say 'close friend' but when I thought about it we hadn't actually had a conversation for over twenty years. Even before then we had lost contact but happened to meet one Saturday at Dean Court watching football and we got back into the groove as if nothing had changed.
It brought on a sudden attack of nostalgia and I wanted to find out about some other people I had been close to before mentally closing the book on those far off days. My first holiday abroad as an adult was in 1978, a year after I started work, I'm sure I have mentioned before that I was too afraid to ask for a holiday for a year due to being the office junior, anyway it was off to France with one of my mates from school. France, like most of the world, was a much simpler place back then and catching the ferry from Weymouth before driving slowly down the Cherbourg Penninsula then across Brittany to alight at La Baule seemed to take forever. Anyway my companion on that trip was training with Barclays bank at the time and had a posting somewhere out in the sticks of Hampshire where he had managed to get a flat above 'the shop' and even as a trainee cashier he seemed to have more money than almost anybody else I knew at the time - bankers eh! Anyway I looked him up and he's now the head of one of Barclay's international departments, he's based abroad and seems to be doing very well from himself - interestingly Barclay's own site claims that he went to University from 1971-1977 which means he must have been at Uni when he was 11 and presumably working nights as he was at school with me during the day - bankers eh?
Anyway onto the first serious love of my life, from the age of 12 to 16. We lost contact when I was 18, a combination of her moving away to get married and me living with somebody who was far too possessive for either of us and whom I have mentioned in some detail before. Anyway she married a prince and moved off to the middle east where she now works for an international school and in the intervening years she became the mother of six children.
There were others I 'tracked down' but none seemed as poignant as the fact that 'Deek' had died.
Anyway Friday found me 'on the road' visiting a couple of audit clients and saying goodbye to a company director who I have had the pleasure of working with over the last ten years or so. As if to prove how small the world really is, when we met back in 2001 and got talking about our respective backgrounds it transpired that we had connections in both East London and Essex and yet by weird chance found a business relationship down on the south coast. Anyway David is off to Cyprus, yep good timing there, and we said our goodbyes today. I also said goodbye to the company's longest serving employee who is retiring to 'go travelling' with his wife and guitar (he's a part time musician in addition to being a sales rep in the marine accessory industry). The company no longer employees anybody who was there when we took over the audit of the company back in 1995, again another book closes.