A while back, I was contacted via Facebook and invited to the reunion being held for those pupils who left the school I taught at for so long in 1994. This year group has special significance for me: It, along with the earlier 1989 and 1991 leavers, contained many of my favourite-ever bods and boddesses.
To be specific, the 1991 and 1994 lovelies included my two best-ever tutor groups (AX and AR), both of which I took from year nine through year eleven. I have many happy memories of these young people (now men and women in, respectively, their early forties and late thirties) and they gave me much of inestimable value.
I am looking forward enormously to meeting some of AR (and the rest of the year group) again at the reunion, and to finding out what their life journeys have been like since we last met when they were sixteen and I thirty-six.
The odd, and lovely, thing is this: I often bump into ex-pupils – and it is always a joy. I’ll give you two recent examples: On Tuesday, I had my first physiotherapy session (to sort out the thoracic spine pain I have been in for many months) and the physiotherapist, instantly recognisable, was a man I last saw when I taught him thirty years ago! Fabulous to see him again. He said I hasn’t changed at all, bless him!
Only yesterday, having managed to drop the car boot door on my head, and having nipped to a local surgery (not my usual one) to ensure my brain was not oscillating like a bra in a washing machine, I ended up sitting next to a young woman who took one look at me and said, ‘Are you still calling pupils bodlings?’ and there, lo and behold, was a girl I recall from ten-plus years back, with news and photos of her two siblings as well.
The other strange thing is this: Because I got married in 1997, half of my former students know me as Miss Browning, and the other half as Mrs Taylor – so I get hailed by both names. I like that, actually, because it represents the continuum of who I was as an English teacher.
Now, I am under no illusions: I am sure that some of the kids I taught loathed me, and would cross streets to avoid me (I was both strict and, at times, undiplomatic) – but a surprising number approach me with great fondness and friendliness, and that always touches me hugely.
So, thank you to those lovely people – aged between eighteen and fifty – who have come out of the woodwork of sensible adulthood to make contact with this ancient red-headed English teacher turned novelist! You have brightened up my life greatly between you!