The Gathering

He thought to himself that today he would like to stroke the dog and watch the butterflies flutter in the dove-cooed morning sunshine, but sadly realised that it was the day of the reunion and he had to go to his old school and meet with people he hadn’t seen for 50 years and who, even 50 years ago, he hadn’t thought much of. Absentmindedly he stroked the dogs soft ears.!
!
He disliked the memory of the austerity, the big old pile of rocks, the rain, the mud, the roughness, the cruel things they said to each other, the fleeting ‘love’ under the damp trees or in crumbling temples which always left him with a longing that could never be satisfied. Temples dedicated to Greek gods and goddesses by 18th century english warriors who made too much money out of wars. Then he remembered a school dance when the girls from the next door school came over and teenage testosterone flowed freely, especially with Madeleine as they hid under the big holly tree on the south front. But even she, whom he imagined to be the most beautiful and wonderful girl in his 16 year old life had grown fat and floury at twenty when he met her again in London and she boldly told him she had become a witch.! ! He had been such a loner. Antisocial. Sport enabled him to be a hero and acknowledged him in the eyes of the others. Funnily enough, he thought, he liked team games, the rough and tumble. And chess. And the teachers and boys the others didn’t like. He remembered Colin Wilson’s book the outsider and felt he was ok in himself. ! ! His thoughts ran rampant. He had a bath and changed into something respectable, but not too respectable. He tried a tie and tore it off, the dog looking up at him wagged its tail. Always the rebel: leather jacket, blue shirt, jeans, trainers. He’d show them that he was still a rebel, they’d probably all be wearing suits and ties.! ! He packed the dog into the Morris, filled up with petrol and set off the odd 60 miles to Buckingham. Arriving later he got the dog out of the car, using a piece of binder twine rather than her lead, smiling to himself at this iconoclastic ritual. ! ! The room was as he remembered it. Oval shaped, 4 doors one in each quarter and red marble columns with golden tops and bottoms. Much cleaner and well preserved than he remembered. As he entered the room the people stopped talking and looked towards him and the dog. They cheered as he was ushered onto a podium in the middle of the room and the headmaster introduced him.! ! “As you know Malcolm Arnold attended our school in the 1950’s and we are so pleased to welcome him back to talk to us about his interesting, exciting and inspirational life”. He blushed inwardly, little did they know. The people clapped and the dog looked at him and whispered, ” shall I speak now or will you start?”! ! “Go on,” he replied, “sock it to them. They’ve never heard a talking dog”!

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