My favourite bit of Christmas is when all my school friends return to their parents and we all meet up at the pub. It’s always the same pub, the one that’s local to our school, even though by definition, when we were at school we weren’t old enough to go there.
A few are married, most have babies, there’s always someone pregnant. Two are now doctors (one of physics, one of psychology), one has just been promoted in his job at the bank, I’m an accountant and two have lost so much hair they could pass for forty-five despite us being the 29-30 year group. We’re proper grown-ups now.
Much wine is drunk, much gossiping and giggling occurs and this year, we ran into another group from school – not friends of ours but we knew them – who were doing exactly the same thing. We sat pointing and whispering “What’s his name? The one with the blue jumper? What about the one with the beard? Does anyone recognise him? I recognise Rob but can anyone remember his surname? Steve’s better-looking than he used to be” etc etc while they totally ignored us. I was starting to wonder if they’d even recognised us. They had and two came over at last. They recognised the other two girls, one particularly pretty, the other particularly popular. No one really remembers me because I was one of these silent kids who doesn’t make an impression on anyone other than close friends. Those who remember me tend not to recognise me. The blonde hair, fringe and air of terror have gone.
I had a good night. Tom is one of my particularly good friends, who genuinely enjoys my company, genuinely thinks I’m hilarious (in a good way – he said I’d make a fantastic stand-up comedian. I understand and appreciate comedy better than he does and I know he’s wrong) and genuinely loves me and I’m both delighted and astonished by that. We’re going out on Saturday looking for hag stones because “people like me” are sacred in some pagan religions and therefore I’m allowed to take part in this ritual. I said I’d never been called sacred before so he tried to explain. I didn’t understand but he used the word special, which I’ve been called many a time. I’m not regarding this as a religious ritual. This is me and my school friend going to the beach to pick up stones.
Happy Christmas, happy holidays, enjoy whatever you’re up to for the next few days.