Wednesday 24 April 2013
This is a school photo from summer 1976 (old secondary school 1st year = new year 7, except in my day it was UIII alpha). I was twelve, I guess. Which one am I?* I'll tell you at the end ...
Why am I posting this? Because over recent months, the past seems to be hitting me from all sides. On facebook recently, there's been a group set up for my old school and it's been fascinating poring over old pictures that I've never seen before. Who knew that there were air-raid shelters under the garden? Apparently everybody else did but I don't remember it at all. There are even photos from the 1950s and 1960s. Is it strange that my memory focusses in more on the strange man caught in the girls' cloakroom one summer's afternoon?
School-days weren't the best days of my life. I was quite bright as a kid and won a scholarship to a private school. In retrospect, it wasn't the best move I ever made - I suspect I'd have been far happier at the grammar school with my primary school friends, but there you go. What's odd though is that while I've made contact with quite a few people I knew from school, virtually none of my actual peer group has made an appearance - the girls I was closest to, who I partied with and socialised with out of school. I'd love to know where they are now and what they are doing.
And there are other people I've caught up with lately. People from university days; friends and boyfriends - people who haven't changed in my mind since the last day I saw or spoke to them and are now older (and probably greyer like me), with families and lives. It's fascinating to catch up with them again, and scary as I realise how much we all change and grow older.
At what point in life do you start looking backwards more often than you look forwards? Is that turning point the moment when you become "old"? I'll be fifty next year and that seems like a milestone of sorts. I don't feel old and people tell me I don't look my age. But there comes a point in your life when you realise that there are things you'll never do - from a world of possibilities as a teenager, I now know I'm never going to be an astronaut, become prime minister or marry into royalty. I'll never be a dancer on Top of The Pops or be a famous scientist/engineer/whatever. Not that I necessarily wanted any of those things, but they were possibilities that no longer exist for me.
That all sounds sad and yet it isn't at all. The world narrows as you grow up and yet it's also richer - where would I be without my wonderful husband and utterly gorgeously talented sixteen year-old daughter? It's something I tell her constantly - that you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything,so long as you are prepared to work hard for it. There are still things to dream of, things to aim for - in my life and hers.
* I'm the one in the yellow dress. Even then, I liked to be different...