Coleman / Remember the daze of the old schoolyard?

With a school reunion looming, CHRIS COLEMAN wonders: “How do you handle the people you didn’t get on with 30 years ago? The ones you have genuinely avoided for those three decades?”

“SCHOOL. Where you make the friends you’ll have for the rest of your life.” Ever hear that line? Or use it yourself?

Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman.

How true is it? A quick survey around my workplace exposed it as a lie. The highest was “a dozen at best” but the most common response was a low, single-figure number. Even in these days where the definition of friend has changed courtesy of Facebook, the uniformly small number surprised me. For me, it would be four at best.

So what do you do when school-reunion time rolls around? In a couple of weeks, my high-school class of 1987 will gather in Canberra to remember the days of the old schoolyard. I know it’ll be a good time; the reunion 10 years back was great fun. It was well-organised; we had dinner, had a few drinks, all said “we must keep in touch” and then went our separate ways. For a decade.

This time there’s been a lot of talk about getting together. A date was reached – several months ago – by consensus on social media, but since then nobody’s actually done anything and, with just a couple of weeks to go, it’s time to act. I’m one of a seeming handful of the guys who are in Canberra at present, so it seems logical that those still in town should do the legwork. But how much legwork is the right amount?

I’m torn. As I said, the 20-year event was a great night. It was put together by a group with a long lead time and it worked well. Now? Well the clock is ticking. Is it enough to pick a venue, get a rough idea of numbers and say: “See you there”?

And how do you handle the people you didn’t get on with 30 years ago? The ones you have genuinely avoided for those three decades? It may sound harsh, but be honest, in any group of more than a hundred people put together by nothing more than birth dates, there are going to be some people you don’t like.

Ten years ago it was a fairly easy matter. It was a big gathering and there wasn’t enough time to speak to everyone. This time it’ll be a much smaller group. I guess it’ll make working the room more interesting.

Regardless, I’m sure it’ll be an interesting night. I’m in a good place in my life at the moment. I’m one of the few who’s (still) doing what he wanted to for a living, indeed to tweak the Billy Joel song “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant”:

Things are okay with me these days. Got a good job. Got a good office. Got a good wife. Got a good life. And the family’s fine.

I really do hope it’s the same for the rest of the class. Or at least those who are still with us, because that’s the other certainty; sadly, some of our classmates have left the room far too soon.


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