NB: This post was directly inspired by Lydia's OPW here
Sometimes the important moments of your life can happen when you're not even there.
It's true. I wasn't there when the decision that would alter my school career significantly was made. It was just a small thing: a tiny act of rebellion in an otherwise undistinguished time. Whilst I was away for a week on a Geography excursion (I know: how rock and roll am I?) my two friends decided that hanging around the playground for an hour waiting to be attacked wasn't so much fun and began sneaking out for long walks around the country roads that lay behind the school.
Strictly speaking this was against the rules, but for the final two to three years of my school days we would go for extended walks, sometimes having to run to get back to class in time.
I guess it was this, in line with an act of sleepiness, that eventually led to our combined decision to bunk off the final day of school. None of us fancied the idea of being thrown in the school pond, or covered with eggs and flour (where most schools now have expensive balls that make parents lock their wallets firmly away in boxes marked "not until your wedding", we had our own traditions for rites of passage) and had no one particularly that we wanted to sign their names across our shirts - so it was pretty much a given that the final Friday of that week would see us anywhere on earth other than at school.
And then, on the Wednesday of that week, two things happened.
Firstly I did that thing that you sometimes do in the morning - where you're not fully concentrating, and you get dressed in a hurry - and I got into my weekend clothes instead of my uniform. The fact that no one noticed until the second lesson of the day should tell you something about how much care and attention my teachers put into my education and well being.
Secondly, and before the Cordoroy Trousers Incident, we were all called into a final Assembly and told that the final day of school would not, as advertised, be Friday - but had been brought forward to Thursday...presumably in a misguided attempt to avoid the aforementioned dunking in the pond/egg and flour experiences.
And so at lunchtime that day myself and one of my two friends (I really should ask the other one where he was that day) decided just to go home. His parents were both at work, so we just spent the afternoon playing Connect 4.
And that, aside from a few exams, was that.
The next day we had decided to go swimming at the local baths - skiving out of school for only the second time in my entire stay - but when we arrived we were in for a shock.
The whole pull was bursting at the seams with kids: all ducking out of their various lessons, intent on returning home in one piece, sans eggs and flour. It was quite impossible to swim, so we caught the next bus home and watched in relative safety from the window as a series of eggy, floury kids made their way home.
And there again those walks changed my life - for without them i might not have said to my friend "Hey, lets meet up on Saturdays and go for walks in the morning". Without that skive, and without that shared history of those walks (sometimes running into quick runs) we may have simply lost touch - faded out of each others lives in the same way we faded out of school
As it is many, many, many (and a few more manys to boot) we still go for those walks