Sunday 23 October 2022

When Barry Met Johnny

I've never done a school reunion in my life. It's not my thing. What happened in the 70s says in the 70s; or words to that effect. However - there's always a however - when two school friends find themselves following each other on Twitter and one of them says 'You fancy meeting up sometime?' then that's different. Of course it is. Barry and I go way back. As way back as 1972 if both of our (fading) memories are anything to go by. But we hadn't seen each other since Christmas Eve 1982. And save for a solitary phone call in 1991 when one of us heard the other on national radio, that's pretty much been it communication wise. Until, as I said, Twitter Reunited. 

Our first stab at this back in August didn't end well: I'd been on the Birmingham train a mere 15 minutes when a frantic text alerted me to the fact that Barry (or Baz as I - and nobody else - call him) would not be meeting me at New Street after all - he was in Emergency Ward 10 (well, A&E) attending to a real life emergency.
When I got home I posted Baz the gift I'd been planning on giving to him in person. A copy of Stevie Wonder's He's Misstra Know it All c/w with an inscription we both knew by heart; an in-joke that had stood the test of time and, like any in-joke, meaningless to anyone outside our circle. Oh, and I put it in this bag.
A couple of days later I received a beautiful reply. (It began 'Dear Johnny...' - he's the only person I know still calls me Johnny - if it'd been a letter I'd have pressed it and kept it in a secret drawer. That's bromance for ya. 

So yesterday the planets aligned and as you can see from the photo at the top (taken yesterday morning), we met up in Nottingham and had a brilliant breakfast and catch-up at the Warsaw Diner - the best breakfast in Nottingham. Don't just take my word - Baz is something of a  hospitality guru and he gave it a double thumbs up. High praise indeed.
So how did we compress 40 years into three hours? Quite easily, actually. What did we talk about? Everything. Did we laugh? Of course. Did we promise to do it again in another 40 years? Definitely. (But ahead of what would be, let's face it, a miraculous 2062 event, we're already lining up a couple of gigs for a future hook up a wee bit bit before that. Cheers, Baz!


Baz told me about John 'Hair on Fire' Wilson who sadly passed recently (the first of our Class of '77 to go). Rest easy, John.


  1. Lovely post, John. I, too, have always been of the mind that I don't want to meet up with old school friends.

    I've communicated with several online over the years, but I always wanted those golden memories to stay golden and not to be proved to have been unreliable, or ruined by someone having turned into a person I no longer identify with.

    The nadir in this regard was learning through cyber-stalking that someone who was part of my gig-going gang in the sixth form (c. 1983/84) had stated online, 'You'll be pleased to know that I've ditched the heavy metal'. Beyond the pale! He'd also become the editor of a PR magazine, writing vacuous bullshit. He'd evidently sold out. Gone over to the other side - that of 'The Man'.

    So... not for me, but I'm pleased that it worked for you in this instance.

    PS: My own favourite Nottingham all-day breakfast joint at this point in time is the Bentinck Hotel. Check it out...

    1. Thanks, TW. I would hardly call my schooldays golden, but I take your point.
      Ah, the Bentinck! It's where you'll find me on a Saturday morning if I'm not in the Warsaw.

  2. Ah, lovely, heartwarming stuff.
    Looking at the top photo, I can just imagine you two as cheeky schoolboys in your uniforms, getting up to... well, whatever you got up to! I bet you've barely changed.

    1. Thanks, C! We had a great day, as you can tell. Lots of stories, lots of laughs.

  3. I once allowed myself to be talked into attending a school reunion some time in the mid-1990s - never again. It was an awkward, uncomfortable evening for most involved, made only slightly more bearable by the consumption of alcohol. As a great man once said '...a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of other stuff too...' What made it worse was that I couldn't even make my excuses and scarper early, as I had to wait for a pre-arranged lift later in the evening. These days I'm still in contact with just one or two of the old faces from my youth, each of whom were good pals back in the playground.
    The story of Baz and Johnny's reunion warms the cockles. Under sad circumstances though it is, I'd be fascinated to hear the background to your mutual chum John 'Hair on Fire' Wilson's unwieldy nickname - I assume it's as literal as it sounds?

  4. Another meet-up that went really well for you then and thanks for sharing it with us. You certainly both must have found the elixir of youth as neither of you look as if you would have been heading off to Play Inn in 1972. I'm guessing you had a good inkling it would have gone well after the chat on Twitter - Going in cold with people you haven't touched base with for 40 years could have been a different matter.

    I keep telling people that I find myself really lucky to have made so many new friends at this stage in life via blogging. Likewise, it's lovely to find ones from the past via social media who had slipped through the net. May you have many more meet-ups and all-day breakfasts (but not too many of the latter I suppose as you should both be looking after your cholesterol - said the 12-year-old Johnny to Barry NEVER).

    1. 'Going in cold' - I love that! No, we didn't go in cold, we were both at room temperature. Yes, I'm looking forward greatly to our next all day brekka; bugger the cholesterol.