As I feel the loss my dear friend Aitch has undergone this week, I have found myself thinking back to school days.
I came in late to Claydon Secondary Modern (now known as Claydon High) School. My junior years were served out at Whitton, which was within walking/cycling distance of our home on Norwich Road, Ipswich. I didn't start there...but more on that another post.
At 11 I had qualified for Grammar School streaming, but for reasons I am not entirely clear about, mother favoured the more technically focused Thurlstane High (now also renamed rather grandiosely as Ormiston Endeavour Academy). At the time father was a weekend dad due to his rising through the ranks of engineering and needing to be on site.
It was this same rise which resulted in a home move to the more rural Henley village. A large detached home with big garden. It is still looking good. Took this drive-by when visiting with Aitch after Christmas last year.
There are a lot more cars than the street ever had in my memory - two car families? Stay at home kids with vehicles? ...
It was a two mile cycle ride to the new school. There was a bus and in winter we sometimes took that. Occasionally mum would drive us.
This move took place on the third term of my first year at high school. I had just turned 12 years. It could have been difficult, but in all honestly I had not enjoyed my sojourn at Thurlstane. Whitton had been fun and my reports showed promise. The high school, though, was in a tough area and I just didn't make friends.
Claydon had a policy of 'buddying' newcomers and my pal was EC. By the end of that term Aitch, Our Friend and the Kook had become part of our group and bonds were made.
As it turned out, whilst all were good mates, Aitch became the 'best'. We do that don't we? Somehow we find folk as close as any family to us. Like sisters, we have not always seen eye-to-eye, but have always been accepting and caring of each other. It is due to Aitch and the gang that I had a pretty good time at Claydon - and even the Bully Girl couldn't spoil it all. We won't mention the bike shed incident. Or the art room attack. Not here anyway.
I have been blessed indeed with very good friends in life and Aitch is certainly the oldest of those. Even when there have been months or years without word, we just pick up where we left off. It is a solid friendship of the kind that must be treasured and acknowledged.
Especially at this time.