Friends Reunited was a Social Media site launched in the UK in June 2000 aiming to reunite old school friends. I joined at a fairly early stage and soon became bored with the short descriptions that people were posting. I thought that I could do better and wanted to encourage others to follow suit. My entry, unedited and copied below dates from around 2002.
Hi everyone. Having checked out a few of the other messages and been bored by their simplicity I figured that there needs to be an antidote to all the brevity around. After all that’s what this site is all about. We all love to find out who’s doing what. And to whom.
I considered making up some story of how I’m a leading figure in the financial world, or a big Hollywood player or a tramp but in the end figured reality was what we all want. So here goes. Warts and all.
I can’t remember a lot about the Infants School and noticed that no-one else could. It’s not listed. The part now known as Shirley Warren Primary used to be the Junior school when we were there. I recall many things from here and visited the place during a weekend a couple of years back. Seeing the weeds growing up through the boy’s playground seemed rather sad. Is it used now, I wondered? I remember the place being quite noisy and vibrant. Usually with massive games of football using a tiny tennis ball. I was always the last to be picked, all say ahh!, sport not being my speciality.
I preferred playing with the girls. Not considered to be the correct thing in those days. I was always ahead of my time! I particularly recall a fondness for Jean Brewer and will embarrass her now by reminding her of that. How sweet. I noticed that she’s still around. Not that her message gives much away. Like so many others. Mind you she had to share her affections from me with Miss Osman, our teacher. I can almost hear the nods of approval from the other guys on reading the name.
I remember a few other names from my time at Shirley Warren but more are missing than are listed. I guess they never learnt to write! Some could barely communicate. It would be fun to find out what happened to everyone though. The two I would be most interested to hear about would be Kevin Jukes and Debra Wyatt . Many may not recall Kevin because he wasn’t there for long. He left to go to Leicester, I believe, after about a year in the Junior school. I can’t blame him for that. His parents moved and he was only about nine at the time. I am interested because he and I were ‘best friends’ for a short time. I mentioned Debra because I had a good deal of respect for her. If I were American I would have voted her as ‘the kid most likely to achieve.’ But I’m not. So I didn’t.
Being a bit of a school swot meant that I gained a place in King Edward VI Grammar School. Either that or the fact that my father was a labour councillor at the time and they wanted to stop the state funding of grammar schools. I wasn’t the only one in my year. I recall at least three others in this category! I changed a bit and concentrated on being a layabout and drifted gradually to the back row of the class. Until my eyesight started changing and I drifted to the front again, not realising that I needed glasses.
Not that being one of the lads made up for still being a kid at school. The best thing about the Junior school wasn’t at King Edwards. Girls. And no Miss Osman either, although I vaguely recall an attractive Biology teacher. The female one you numbnut. To this day I advocate that single sex schools with too much homework should be outlawed. Freud would have a heyday with the misconceptions I grew up with at the time. Women were either my sister, my mum or Valerie Singleton. I didn’t even have a chance to meet my mates’ girlfriends as they were also my sister, Hi Dawn. Why didn’t they have sisters? Or mums?
The other main trouble was location. I lived a few miles away from the school, which in turn was a few miles away from the guys I considered my friends at the time. But I had no push-bike, too little bus fare and hours of homework. So Ady and Mick, that’s why I never got to join the band. And the fact I couldn’t sing or play an instrument of course.
This new found slightly yobbo role meant not trying very hard at school so inevitably the mock exams suffered. I spent too much time dreaming about my girlfriends at the time. My first – Ruth Lugton, yes, I’ve still got the letters you sent, and Debbie Picano to whom I send deep apologies for Christmas, because I was an arse. So my dreams of becoming a vet had dissipated. Ady was right. I would never be a ‘ten thousand a year’ vet. Mind you, after six extensive weeks of knuckling down I nabbed ninety percent of my qualifications. And after all, who needs French?
But by then the future was forever changed. I figured I never had a chance to go to university and left school at sixteen. That’s why I’m listed in 1978 as opposed to most of my school mates in 1980. Best move I ever made. Except that in 1979 they allowed girls in.
Generally my time at King Edwards was tolerable rather than exceptional but I would be happy to join any reunion that was organised.
Anyway time had moved on and I was forced to make a career choice which would shape the work for the rest of my life. Not easy when your first 16 year’s dreams are smashed. I opted to do work involved with drawing and somehow ended up with an apprenticeship with a heating company. Three years out of the five later I resigned. You may remember the week. The government announced unemployment to be a million for the first time. Top move. But I had missed out on the gap year all my old school mates were having. And partying with my biker friends. Jeff Bull on his Yamaha Fizzy with sexy girlfriend Jackie. Dave Bareham on his Honda SS50, who was sadly killed later in his early twenties. Mark with his Strange Heath Robinson Machine. John Crook on another Honda SS50. Dave ‘Spike’ Reeves, strangely in his Dad’s big Vauxhall VX490. And me, on Mark’s Gilera. Brother Mark. No not a monk. My Brother. Not forgetting the girlfriends of course. Hi to Theresa, Sue, Inger, Fiona, Susan, Karen and Yvette. Busy days indeed.
I preferred anything to work and wanted to be a writer. So I left for Hollywood. Unfortunately I got to Boyatt Wood. I had met my wife, Lynda. Well, obviously she wasn’t my wife at the time, but you know what I mean. Before that we spent some good and bad times at Arthur Road, in Shirley. Outdoor fireworks indoors anyone? The place was a bit like the house in the young ones. A few guys from King Edwards were there. Keith Gunston was one. Tim was another new friend. He claimed to be prospecting for the Angels so we had a few colourful guests. Not to mention the rat. Which ate the mice. I also recall Lee, who I ask to say hello to Marion and Jackie for me, plus Heather. And burning the furniture. And servicing the bikes indoors. And the telly repossession. And the electrics, which started the fire which nearly poached Tim’s fish.
Anyway, Lynda steered me back on the straight and narrow. Technically, I still owe her fifty quid! I started work again. Temporary work led to a builder’s merchants which led back to the same heating company. Eight years seemed to pass quickly. Although we did move to our present house in Bishops Waltham. But eight years is a long time in one job, unless you are my wife when nothing short of 30 is a career. So I resigned. You may recall the week. Unemployment was announced again. Three million. Great move. Seriously. They went bust shortly afterwards. So I worked for a small time with a national services company then joined a Southampton plumbing outfit. One of the Directors invited me to start a Mechanical Services division. Things were going well at first but the other Director was scared by the changes. We parted company in 1997. They went bust in 1998.
I moved to a company in Fareham then resigned two years later, my timing slightly amiss. They were just going bust. Pattern of the industry I’m afraid. I became self employed.
Now I work mainly for a London based company, working all over the South, in London and wherever the work takes me. It’s a good life, always moving around with no time to get bored and contemplate resigning. My earliest school reports, and most of the subsequent ones, read me well. Can do anything – if only he bothered to concentrate. 8 out of 10 must try harder.
So what of the future? I guess when people read this there could be changes. In your own poor submissions if nothing else. Perhaps Debra will contact me then introduce me to Jean, with whom I’ll fulfil a life long ambition. Lynda will find out and kick me out. Thankfully Kevin will have contacted me and I’ll move to Leicester. Only he’ll be a drug dealer. And a woman since the change. In a landmark European Court rights case we’ll marry and have children. But it won’t work out because without Lynda I will have stopped working again. And I’ll end up on the streets. A tramp. With warts. C’est la vie.
Author: Vince Poynter
Originally posted on my Friends Reunited page around 2002 then republished recently within the Social Media section of my web site, vinceunlimited.co.uk/socialmedia.htm, as Version 5.288 on 5 Mar 2020
Friends Reunited was a UK based social media site launched in June 2000 aiming to reunite old school friends. FaceBook, a similar Social Media site was launched globally in 2004 and proved very popular which squeezed the more focussed and geographically independent nature of Friends Reunited which closed in February 2016