Hammering rain and grey scudding cloud make a less than inspiring backdrop to our departure from the auld country. Budget airlines compound the misery and relieve us of a further £60 for our additional 10kg of baggage – that’s in addition to the £350 or so already paid for additional baggage booked online.
This return to our chosen land is a far cry from that distant yet all too vivid memory of the termly return to Ston. In later life on the rare times when I ever talked about anything meaningful with my old mum (requiescat in pace), she would never have it that I was reluctant to return to school. “Oh Christopher! You ran off, happy as a sandboy, as soon as you set eyes on your friends!”
Ah Memory! What a temperamental and fickle mistress you are! One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory (Rita Mae Brown). Such start of term dramas as I described in an earlier post, registered not in the maternal cerebrum.
In fact as a young child I hated and dreaded the beginning of term (didn’t all boarding school boys in the 1960s) at least until my later teens when boarding school became a chafing constraint rather than a misery. Although, as in most things, there was a hierarchy. Winter terms were the worst: the end of the long summer holidays, the evenings closing in and the long winter term in prospect combined in a perfect storm of melancholy. The start of the summer term was, by contrast, far more bearable with the prospect of cricket every day and school fixtures on a Wednesday and Saturday if you were lucky. Swimming too and the outdoor pool (of course it was not heated! Have you learned nothing?) would be cleaned and the lapping green water turn sparkling blue.
I remember too that I learned how to dive in the Easter holidays of my eleventh year. I was so pleased with myself that I was actively looking forward to showing off to my friends when I did return to school (NB this is not the same as actively looking forward to returning to school). The reason this somewhat random event is fixed in my recall is because it was juxtaposed in my memory with another more dramatic event. I was sitting in the sitting room at home with the television on, idly dreaming of diving from the springboard to the adulation of my masonic peers when my mother came into the room and blocked my view of the screen.
Because, I am sure, I understood the word to mean the same as “basket” and to convey a rhetorical force that was no greater, I requested that she “Move out of the way you bastard!”. The result was electric and way beyond that required or expected. “Don’t you ever dare use that word to me again. If I ever… etc.”. My lame explanations did not completely extricate me. My Partner in Life had a similar fate when, aged nine, she asked, at tea with family at the Bath residence of her ferocious Granma “What lies on its back with its prick in the air? A drawing pin! Hee hee.”
A steely silence was followed by something close to Collapse of Stout Party and her – genuine – defence of not understanding what the joke meant, just that it sounded funny, failed miserably to clear the air.
Meantime I am glad that this return in 2011 is to the blue skies, warm seas and warmer welcome of Mediterranean Turkey rather than the cold comfort and grey porridge of The Masonic School Bushey in the 1960s.