After a half term break I find myself back at the keyboard and thinking about days gone by with some trepidation. Facebook has thrown up the possibility of a school reunion back in not so sunny Stoke-on-Trent. I find myself torn by this. There is a strong part of me that thinks there is a very good reason why I haven't seen these people for the last twenty odd years. Added to this though, there is an underlying curiosity to see what has become of my classmates. I'm sure that most people have identical feelings.
However, because of the fact that it is Facebook there is little need to wonder what those people are like because I can sneak a peek at some of their profiles. Now who in the list of those that are going do I recognise? Well one name jumps out at me instantly. For legal reasons I will call him Tony Hay as I am about to disparage him to the max.
Good old Tony was in my history group for a while. His idea of fun was to lean forward and set fire to the hair of the person sitting at the desk ahead of him. What a hoot he was. That was, as I say, twenty odd years ago. Perhaps he has seen the light and changed his ways. Lets look at his profile. I find a good way of discerning aspects of personality, not perfect but okay, is to look at the groups a person has joined on Facebook. Tony has joined loads.
Some are to do with football and as a Stoke supporter they seem okay to me. Some are a bit random but possibly well intended giving tribute to children savaged by family dogs and encouraging you to remember the faces of paedophiles in case you happen to pass them in the street so you can give them a kicking. Some are supposed to be funny like "I don't need sex, the goverment fucks me every day!" Ah then we get "You're in England. Speak the fucking language!!!" Tony was in the remedial group for English as I remember. Oh and "No more immigrants England is full fuck of else where!!!" Did you note the use of three, not one, exclamation marks there?
I love the fact that I come from Stoke but am glad that I no longer live there. The people are great but there is a mindset in my home area that once you are away from it you realise how narrow it is. I would probably be decried as a liberal, gay loving xenophile by Tony and his mates who would wonder how I could bring myself to live in a city with as many black people as Birmingham has. I suspect that one would be too many.
Not all Stokies, or Potters as we call ourselves, are racist but its obvious that Tony is. Others on the list jump out as similarly dubious characters. None, as in zero, of my close friends of those days are there and this speaks volumes to me. I know that there are lots of socio-economic, demographic, historico-bullshit reasons why a social group can become antagonised. What do you do about it though? Stoke now has nine BNP councillors and their support doesn't seem to be waning.
Almost all of my friends from Stoke have left there. I think that I would however like to attend a reunion, not the one that is being planned though. There were and are some good people in Stoke and it would be good to get together again. Alas most of the pubs of my youth have either closed down or been demolished but there are still a couple going. I think that I will contact the four people I spent most of my latter teens with and see if they fancy getting together for a drink sometime. That would be a proper reunion.
Until next time....