Here’s a bit of a school photograph from Mayfield College, when my friend Richard and I were both thirteen. We’re the two in the back row, behind the boys who are doing their best to look like the Kray twins. Richard is the taller of us, wearing the glasses. I’d been removed from the Grammar School on the grounds that my place there might better be used by someone who was actually interested in learning, so I’d only been at Mayfield for a month or two. I was the youngest in our form, and Richard the second youngest.
Like all the boarders at school, we were in the cadets. Another of my fellow pupils, who was the Company Sergeant Major, told me a few years ago that I was the worst cadet he’d ever seen, but that didn’t stop me making the rank of corporal. Richard (deservedly) made sergeant.
When we left school, we lost touch, but through a couple of coincidences, we managed to get back in contact a few years ago, and we’ve been to some school reunions. We live about three hundred miles apart, so we don’t see much of each other, but I (and my girlfriend) had a lovely lunch with him (and his wife) last week, when he was on holiday in Cornwall.
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton sang a song called “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” but they’re wrong. All you have to do is make new friends, and then wait.