Just the other day, Diamond Geezer noted how Friends Reunited has sort of faded into a nothingness, in stark contrast to its heyday about five years back. As I caught up with his posts today, I had to nod in agreement. Long gone are the times where I might check the site once a fortnight or so, as slowly but steadily the amount of new people signing up or those already present updating their details reduced to a trickle. And that said, when anyone new did sign up, invariably I’d never heard of them, and when anyone did update they usually weren’t the schoolmates I wanted to hear about. As I finished the post, I thought about taking a visit to the site for the first time in about 4 months, but decided it would be pointless. I wondered if it's a culture thing: across the pond, sites like Facebook have flourished in the past 3 years or so, whereas here there seems to be a prevailing attitude of "Look, if I wasn't that fussed about staying in touch back then, I'm hardly going to now". Or perhaps it's the rather basic interactive (and not free) element to Friends Reunited, in comparison to, say, Facebook's dynamic and accessible layout.
About an hour later, an email arrived in my inbox. The title certainly caught my eye.
Subject: Is it really Huw who I held hands with in the playground at [Hometown] infants?
Hullooo, It's Rachel [Lastname] here, I had a wonderful friend called Huw at infants school in [Hometown] when I lived on [Such And Such] Road and he lived very close to the school as I remember. I remember kids taking the piss but we didn't care, they said we loved each other but we knew we were just good mates, we were too young for love and all that. Was it you???
Of course, the email had made it's way to me, in a roundabout fashion, via Friends Reunited. It was a little poetic for my tastes perhaps, but nice all the same. Except that I can't remember any Rachel, and certainly not one I endured ridicule for. Admittedly, this is potentially 20 years ago now, but I like to think I remember every girl whose hand I've ever held. I vaguely remember a humiliating moment when I was about 6 when my friend Richard and I were told in no uncertain terms that playing with a skipping rope made us the most detestable form of bum-loving gayers, and we were deservedly put in headlocks and had knuckles scrapped across our scalps by some upstanding older children as a punishment, but I don't remember any mockery arising from any Rachel (and I am sure that, by the logic of the playground, any holding hands with girls would have outed me as gay, so I'd have been sure to avoid it so as to save my scalp). I am also at the disadvantage of having gone to a school largely attended by the children of members of the army, and they tended to move on every year or so, meaning every 6 months in my class of thirty I'd see eight kids depart and eight new faces replace them: it plays havoc with the memory, hand holding or not.
I have to sheepishly reply to Rachel, and admit I can't remember having ever squeezed her palm in mine. I feel awfully guilty, and consider that perhaps this is why no-one has any time for Friends Reunited anymore.
5 weeks ago