Last night I had a trip down Memory Lane.
Every year, there is a reunion in a small pub in Heaton Mersey in Stockport. It is a reunion of old work colleagues and a couple of my mates attend every year. It usually occurs on the Friday before Christmas.
I have been invited but am usually unable to attend because it coincides with another event that is also annual and traditional – my workplace’s Christmas pub crawl around Didsbury – which usually takes place the day before, on the last Thursday before Christmas.
As much as I love beer, it usually too much for me to take in both events – there is only so much beer you can drink at my age, so I attend the Didsbury crawl – and have done for the last ten or so years.
This year, however, the Didsbury crawl will take place next Thursday and I was delighted to hear that the Heaton Mersey reunion would be a week earlier. In fact, it took place yesterday afternoon – and I went.
The pub is about fifteen minutes’ walk away from my house, and as I braved the snow and rain, I started thinking about who might be there. One of my mates jokingly refers to it as “The Old Farts’ Reunion” because at the age of 54, he is one of the younger people there.
I walked into the pub and it seemed empty, but then I heard some raucous laughter from a room at the back. I walked in and was astounded to see around twenty guys that I have not seen for years – some of whom I last clapped eyes on about twenty years ago.
I was slightly overwhelmed and blurted out:
“Bloody Hell – I haven’t seen some of you old buggers for YEARS!”.
This exclamation was greeted with laughter. It was four thirty in the afternoon and some of them had been there since three o’clock; most were slightly inebriated.
I was the youngest there – at the age of 49 – and some of these guys remembered me as a spotty faced little idiot joining their project team way back in September 1984. I was still a youngster to most of them.
The conversation flowed, with lots of names popping up that I had not heard for years. My very first software team leader was there as was my first supervisor, who greeted me with the following words:
“How are you, lad?”
I liked that – “Lad” – as if I were still a pasty-faced 21 year old filled with innocence.
We chatted for a few hours and over several pints, reminiscing about how life had changed.
I was reminded of a three way bet involving football that apparently was still in place. I foolishly pitted my team, Walsall – a shit little club languishing in League One, against Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers, the teams supported by the other two guys. The supporter of the team that finished lowest of the three in their respective divisions would have to buy a pint for the other two.
I support a team that is (and let’s be kind here) – absolutely pathetic and I have lost every year almost for the past twenty or so years.
“You owe us about twenty pints,” I was told. “Get your money out.”
Another guy who last saw me when I was married was astounded to find out that I had divorced. Another guy who had seen me just after the divorce said,
“How many women have you had since then, Dave?”
What followed was a very amusing character assassination and my claims that Mrs PM was and is the only woman I have been involved with since the divorce were hurled aside in favour of banter with me as their target.
"It was thirteen years ago," I said but my claims fell on deaf ears.
And it was hilarious – I thoroughly enjoyed being savaged by these guys.
Another guy said “How old are you then?”
“I’m 50 next year,” I said.
“Farkin’ hell – you MUST use cream on your skin. You haven’t even got any grey hair. I’ll bet you’ve been using products for twenty years.”
More raucous laughter followed by more piss taking at my expense.
It was sad to hear about people I knew as a young man who had died – a melancholy diversion from Memory Lane – but overall it was brilliant to see some of these guys again. As the evening drifted on, Mrs PM’s words echoed in my head:
“Don’t get shit-faced. It’s my Christmas party tomorrow and you are coming whether or not you are hungover.”
So reluctantly I had to go, leaving behind a handful of die-hards sipping more beer and chatting about age, work and the past. I thoroughly enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane and promised that I would do my best to come back next year.
And as I wobbled back home in the snow and rain, the one clear thought that shone through the alcoholic haze was this:
I will keep that promise.